The peace-loving inhabitants of the small planet Akir are threatened by a genetically deficient and vicious band of marauders led by the evil Sador (John Saxon), who is armed with his Stellar Converter – a weapon which turns a planet into a star.
An old man named Zed (Jeff Corey) gives Shad (Richard Thomas, formerly John Boy of The Waltons) his ship – the Nell – to go looking for help.
Shad first tries Dr Hephaestus (Sam Jaffe), who lives in a space station with his daughter, Nanelia (Darlane Fluegel), and a bunch of androids.
The doctor decides Shad would make a good mate for his daughter but Shad manages to escape, with Nanelia following in her own ship.
Shad eventually assembles a rag-tag assortment of space mercenaries, including an outer space trucker known as Space Cowboy (George Peppard), a crew of five aliens called Nestor who all share the same mind, a lizard-man named Cayman (Morgan Woodward) who has his own crew of unusual aliens, Saint Exmin (the incredibly sexy Sybil Danning) a woman from a warrior race whose clothing has a hard time containing her, and Gelt (Robert Vaughn) a long-time assassin with a price on his head looking to hide.
As the seven ships arrive at Akir, they encounter one of Sador’s ships and engage it in battle, quickly destroying the enemy ship. The mercenaries are welcomed by the citizens of Akir and Cowboy begins to train them in the use of weapons.
Full-scale war breaks out when Sador returns and few of our heroes survive. It’s up to Shad to save the day (and the planet).
In cameos that only required a day or two of work by each, the stars say their few lines and make faces for close-ups at the controls of various spacecraft, that could later be intercut with special effects.
One of the more successful of the Star Wars ripoffs, Battle Beyond the Stars sees Producer Roger Corman back in typical form – making a commercial product with a barely disguised contempt for his audience, in this case almost exclusively small children.
For all Corman’s boasting that this is his most expensive production, it looks horribly cheap and tacky. There’s a randomness to the cutting and a deadening sameness to the outer-space effects shots.
Ronald C. Ross
Jimmy T. Murakami