Reportedly on the shelf for five years, this lame space spoof might easily have stayed on hold forever had Los Angeles' Vagabond movie theater not staged an ambitious 3-D festival in 1990, complete with a traditional dual-projector system and programs ranging from KISS ME KATE and DIAL M
FOR MURDER to THE STEWARDESSES and HYPERSPACE, which had its "world premiere" at the Vagabond festival. However, whether intended or not, the biggest joke in HYPERSPACE is that there are virtually no scenes that take advantage of the film's Stereovision 3-D process, which uses polarized glasses
(rather than the red and blue lenses of 50s-vintage 3-D) to achieve its effect. Hence, HYPERSPACE's distinctions are two: Audiences get to see comedian Paula Poundstone in her underwear, and they have to wear funny glasses to do it.
A spoof aimed directly at STAR WARS--this in itself indicates how long the film has been languishing, probably in the garage of Southern fried B-movie mogul Earl Owensby, the film's producer--HYPERSPACE explains in a long, rolling crawl that it is, in fact, "Episode IV: The Last Resort." The bad
guys--black-hooded smurfs led by the Darth Vadar-ish Buckethead (Robert Bloodworth)--are in pursuit of Princess Serina, a rebel forces leader who has absconded with valuable radio transmissions. Using their hyperspace drive, they overshoot their destination and land in a sleepy redneck town on
Earth. There, one of the smurf-soldiers scares two kids and their parents before winding up locked in the truck of a pest exterminator (Alan Marx). Meanwhile, the helpful locals send Bloodworth and his crew to a local auto repair shop in their quest for the lost transmissions. It is there they
confront Poundstone and take her captive to interrogate her. Meanwhile, the smurf escapes the truck, with exterminator Marx in hot pursuit to retrieve his service schedule, which the smurf has stolen. The smurf leads the exterminator back to Bloodworth and brings him together with Poundstone.
Together, Marx and Poundstone escape from Bloodworth; meanwhile the town authorities have called in UFO scientist Chris Elliott to help them investigate the spacy invaders.
Owensby favors chase movies (his GONE IN 60 SECONDS boasts a 40-minute chase), and HYPERSPACE lumbers from one tedious pursuit to another in lieu of a plot. The most imaginative of these sequences, and the only one that exploits the 3-D format, involves flying shopping carts in a supermarket. But
the thrills are negated by the cheap special effects, which wind up looking even cheaper in 3-D. There is an endless rescue in which Marx rushes up and down hallways in the spaceship while Poundstone, in the aforementioned underwear, lies trussed up on a table while the smurfs poke and prod her,
conducting tests of the type reported in tabloid accounts of alien abduction. In the climactic showdown between the nefarious Bloodworth and the human race, the Earth army is led by Elliott, who rushes onto the field of battle to bluster at Bloodworth when his death ray sputters out and then
rushes cravenly back to the barricades when the weapon's power is restored. Marx eventually rescues Poundstone and the fed-up smurfs boot Bloodworth off the spaceship before taking off, allowing Bloodworth to menace Marx and Poundstone one last time before the "surprise" ending.
The surprise ending is nothing compared to the shock of seeing Elliott and Poundstone, both regulars on TV's utterly urban "Late Night with David Letterman," involved in a film that looks like it was otherwise cast from Owensby's relatives, friends, neighbors, and creditors, along with any other
good old boys who happened to be hanging around the set. Elliott and Poundstone both turn in credible enough performances under the circumstances, but neither is able to overcome the "Late Night" meets "Hee Haw" effect. In his Mark Hamill role, Marx is inoffensive but undistinguished--an
evaluation that can also be applied to HYPERSPACE as a whole. For what it's worth, writer-director Todd Durham has a sure sense of pacing and his script occasionally conveys the impression that HYPERSPACE is genuinely funny. That may be higher praise that it sounds, since no less than Mel Brooks
took on the same STAR WARS-spoof premise in SPACEBALLS with only slightly more entertaining results, despite a considerably higher production budget. But that doesn't mean HYPERSPACE is a good movie. A more likely conclusion is that spoofing STAR WARS is the kind of dumb idea that is all but
guaranteed to result in dumb movies.
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