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Escape from Galaxy 3 (1981)

Directed by Ben Norman aka Bitto Albertini
Prism Entertainment VHS

In Starcrash (1978), an intergalactic minx named Stella Star fights an evil overlord who wants to conquer the universe. The film stars an android with a luscious white bro-fro, a young David Hasselhoff, and a middle-aged Christopher Plummer who brings class to a movie where no one asked for it. This movie’s budget was mostly spent on special effects—there are explosions, lasers, stop-motion animations, and painstakingly detailed spaceships that zoom through a galaxy of glimmering stars. The set pieces are almost as impressive as the rampant abuse of guyliner.

In Escape from Galaxy 3, an intergalactic minx named Belle Star fights an evil overlord who wants to conquer the universe. This film, too, stars a guy with a beast-level fro. And while this movie lacks Hasselhoff and Plummer, we get something much, much better: a guy with a bedazzled beard. Like Starcrash, Escape from Galaxy 3 also contains impressive set pieces, explosions, lasers, stop-motion animations, and detailed miniatures that zip across a glittering galaxy. Many of the special effects look the same because they are the same; the film unapologetically reuses footage. This is because special effects director Armando Valcauda worked on both movies. Basically, he plagiarized himself. I see no problems here. I only see genius. Twice.

In a distant galaxy, an anxious king wanders around his planet’s command center, swishing his pink cloak. The evil overlord Oraclon, armed with advanced weapons and a sparkly beard, has come to take over the planet.

“Time to initiate the Epsilon Plan!”

I have no idea what this is, exactly, but it entails sending away Lithan, a trusted officer, and the king’s daughter Belle Star (Sherry Buchanan of Zombie Holocaust). She wears a sparkling leotard that reveals one boob, which is tastefully covered by a star-shaped pasty. He wears a bright blue tights and a matching striped leotard. Together they leave their planet and seek safety in another part of the universe.

They happen upon a peculiar planet. “It’s completely unlike any planet I’ve ever seen! What strange colors!” It’s Earth, a place most of you are familiar with. And it appears to be Ancient Rome, only an alternate version where the dudes are woefully outnumbered by scantily clad, sexually liberated honeys. There are no chariot races or gladiator battles here, only coordinated modern dances set to disco. And no one—and I mean no one—wears pants. Pants tend to get in the way of love-making.

Soon the locals teach Belle Star and Lithan their customs, which include drinking wine, feeding grapes to each other, and walking on a balance beam over a fire pit. The ancient Romans also teach our heroes how to make out and have sex–something they’ve never done before because they’re immortal. (Hey, it’s fiction, don’t over think it.)

“It made me tremble…made me feel so very strange…made me want to feel again, the touch of love.” I am assuming that “The Touch of Love” is a Phil Collins song, and you can’t convince me otherwise.

In exchange for sexing lessons, Belle Star and Lithian move large rocks. I’d say it’s an equal cultural exchange.

The charm in this movie comes from the misunderstandings about all things Earth. Belle Star gets confused by a waterfall. She gets confused by trees. And air. Lithian gets confused by a water buffalo, which, to his credit, is weird. It’s like a cow with Shemp Howard’s haircut. They both get confused by echoes (my dog, who was cute but incredibly stupid, was also confused by echoes). Boobs and penis at first confuse them, and then excite them, but then confuse them again. Earth is a magical place! But soon the peaceful, sexy way of life on Earth is threatened as the evil overlord and his army close in on Belle Star and Lithan.

Escape from Galaxy 3 combines gentle sci-fi, even gentler comedy, erotic drama, and elaborate costumes. There’s glitter, molded foam helmets, lightning bolt appliqués, statement belts, giant shoulder pads, and leotards. And that’s just on the dudes. The ladies wear significantly less. And at some point you ask yourself, “Wait, is that a romper made entirely of fringe?” and “Is he wearing donuts on his arms?”

The miniature spacecraft and the cross-galactic chase scenes are truly impressive, and just when the novelty wears thin, the heroes land on Earth and engage in some sexy times. Unlike Starcrash, this film changes it up enough to prevent anything from getting too stale. The layers added on top of sci-fi are fun and zesty and move the plot forward. This movie is entertaining without being overly goofy, and it’s erotic without being repetitive. It’s also got a long dance sequence that involves a hip thrusting. Director Bitto Albertini (Black Emanuelle) no doubt puts his erotic fingerprints on this film, though this one is perhaps more tasteful than others—nether bits are always strategically covered.

But in the end, this movie is about the unifying power of love. And if that’s not enough for you, the VHS cover promises “the same action-packed, intergalactic punch as Def-Con and 2001: A Space Odyssey!”