Message from Space (1978)

On the far off planet of Jillucia, a brutal invasion from the Gavanas Empire is underway. In a last ditch effort, Liabe Seeds are launched into deep space to find noble heroes who can liberate the Jillucians. Unfortunately, they find a gang of young punks and a burnt out soldier who seem unable to help themselves, never mind an alien civilization. Princess Emeralida, and her companion the grizelled warrior Urocco appeal to the greater nature of the seeds chosen heroes as the Gavanas Empire moves toward their next conquest, the planet Earth.

With a budget of $6 million, Message from Space was the most expensive movie of its kind. Regarded as the Japanese answer to Star Wars, the movie stars Sonny Chiba and B-movie star Vic Morrow (before his untimely death in the making of Twilight Zone: The Movie in 1982) as a hard-drinking ex-soldier Garuda whose robot Beba-2 which is a cross between Tweekie and a wet bar.

Eventually, those chosen by the Liabe Seeds are shown to have great potential for good and get their act together long enough to defeat the evil Gavanas Imperial leader and his witch-like mother who roams about like Davros’ mother-in-law. It’s all very bizarre and it seems like once Garuda decides to sober up and fight the good fight he spends more time appealing to the evil aliens than he does fighting them. Also, our heroes do more damage to their own space ship than any of their enemies.

Regarded as an international bomb (despite an excessive amount of money spent in American distribution), Message from Space is chock full of spaceships, explosions and functions as a kind of live action Space Battleship Yamato blended drunkenly with Fugitive Alien. There’s a massive retro chic appeal to this movie and it is a lot of fun to watch with friends on a cold winter’s night with a plate of nachos and a few cold beverages.


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