7 of the Worst ‘Star Wars’ Rip-Offs Ever Made

David Hasselhoff
Starcrash | Source: Nat and Patrick Wachsberger Productions

We look at the past through rose-colored glasses, even as we complain about the current state of the movie industry. Nowadays, one studio rips off another’s formula for success in order to churn out pale imitations. It’s easy to complain about the comic book movie boom today while forgetting about, say, the space opera boom of the ’70s and ’80s, when countless production companies sought to cash in on the unparalleled popularity of the original Star Wars trilogy. To mark the recent release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most laughable Star Wars rip-offs in the surprisingly long history of Star Wars rip-offs.

1. Starcrash

Roger Corman has become more or less a legend for the impressive string of low-budget B movies his New World Productions produced throughout the ’70s and ’80s. Starcrash, released in 1978, tried to cash in on the success of the original Star Wars, primarily by using a similar title and clogging the screen with bizarre casting choices, such as a young Christopher Plummer and David Hasselhoff.  The plot concerns a roguish space smuggler, an Imperial Space Police force, and an evil Emperor, but it’s hard to focus on any of that when you’re busy laughing at the absurd special effects.

2. The Man Who Saved the World

The Man Who Saved the World, aka Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam, aka Turkish Star Wars, is a baffling film that proves Star Wars rip-offs knew no national boundaries. The 1982 film goes so far as to outright steal footage from Lucas’s film, as well as from Soviet newsreel clips, to pad out its 91-minute runtime. The midnight madness favorite features a planetary shield created from human brain power (read: The Death Star), a slimy space bar (the Mos Eisley cantina), a desert planet (Tatooine), and space zombies.

3. Starchaser: The Legend of Orin

For anyone wondering what Star Wars might be like if the dialogue was significantly worse and the characters were animated like bad Saturday morning cartoons, this film is for you. Though it has the distinction of being one of the first animated films to use 3-D and to combine computer animation with traditional, nothing can quite distract from Starchaser’s blatant lifting of its style from Lucas’s far superior film.

4. Star Odyssey

Italian exploitation director Alfonso Brescia made not one, not two, but four movies in the late 1970s that aped Star Wars in hopes of piggy-backing on its unprecedented success. The title of the fourth, Star Odyssey, immediately gives its intentions away, even if the film actually contains some of the most perplexing sequences of any film on this list. The plot follows a human uprising to reclaim Earth from the clutches of the evil conqueror Kress and his cyborg army, but somehow Brescia found time for scenes like the above, wherein a boxing match between two low-budget robots plays out in full.

5. Battle Beyond the Stars

Another entry from B-movie maestro Roger Corman and his New World Pictures, Battle Beyond the Stars sold itself as The Magnificent Seven in space, though its plot is mostly secondary to its outer space antics, most of which come straight from Lucas’s films. Even though James Cameron directed the film’s special effects, he couldn’t elevate the low-budget marvel past its budgetary concerns and the silly parts of its conception, including a talking female spaceship with breasts. You read that right.

6. The Black Hole

Disney couldn’t let Star Wars steal their young viewers and merchandise viewers without some kind of fight. Unfortunately, the product was the dismal, confusing mess that is The Black Hole, a film trapped somewhere between kid-friendly family film and oddly dark space opera involving lobotomies, religious overtones and the evisceration of a major character. The cast is populated with plenty of vaguely familiar names from Anthony Perkins and Ernest Borgnine to a pair of silly droids voiced by Slim Pickens and Roddy McDowell.

7. Eragon

Coming out in 2006, Eragon was a little late to the party of Star Wars rip-offs, but that didn’t stop the filmmakers from shamelessly stealing the exact plot of the 1977 original while adorning it with fantasy rather than sci-fi elements, hoping to ride the wave of Harry Potter‘s success with an extremely loose adaptation of Christopher Paolini’s successful novel. A spunky princess captured by an evil dictator sends a mysterious stone away just before her capture. A teenage farm boy finds the stone and flees from his home with a mysterious old mentor after his uncle is killed by the villains. The titular character soon realizes his destiny as a spiritualist dragon rider. Any of this sound familiar yet?

 Follow Jeff on Twitter @jrindskopf