Space Mutiny

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
The poster doesn't get the title right, and the golf carts didn't fly, but everything else is disturbingly accurate, including the railing kills.

"Ahahah, good, good, back to the rusting septic system of this futuristic space ship!"

Space Mutiny (also known as Mutiny in Space) is a 1988 legendarily bad science-fiction action film starring Reb Brown about, surprisingly enough, a mutiny aboard the spaceship known as the Southern Sun.

The Southern Sun is a seedship, a spacefaring vessel full of colonists out to settle a new world. Its voyage has lasted generations, so many of its inhabitants have been born and will die without ever setting foot on solid ground. This does not please the antagonist, Elijah Kalgan (not be confused with Calgon), who conspires with the pirates infesting the nearby Corona Borealis system and the ship's Chief Engineer MacPhearson. Kalgan hatches a plot to disrupt the Southern Sun's navigation systems and use the Enforcers, the ship's police force, to hijack the ship and direct it towards this system. At this point, the inhabitants of the Southern Sun will have no choice but to accept his 'generosity'.

Kalgan sabotages the vessel's guidance system just as an important professor's shuttle is on a landing trajectory, causing it to crash (offscreen). The ship's pilot, Dave Ryder, is able to escape, but the professor dies in the explosion. This sabotage seals off the flight deck for a number of weeks, allowing Kalgan and the Enforcers to hold the entire population of the Southern Sun hostage. Commander Jansen and Captain Devers enlist Ryder's assistance, aided begrudgingly by Jansen's daughter Dr. Lea Jansen, to regain control of the ship.

Space Mutiny was filmed in South Africa during The Apartheid Era (a fact understandably not mentioned on the end credits - see also Prisoners of the Lost Universe, Golden Rendezvous, Hellgate etc), which some viewers think ties in to all the pseudo-fascistic goings-on (and explains the all-white cast, not that that was exactly unusual in Hollywood action movies of the time).

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.

Tropes used in Space Mutiny include:
  • Artistic License Astronomy: "Constellation" is used as a meaningful locational term.
  • A-Team Firing: Lea among others had poor aim. With both Kalgan and Ryder's "speeders" bearing down on her, she fires at Kalgan... and manages to hit Ryder's speeder, temporarily disabling it.
  • Back from the Dead: Due to poor editing, a woman who was murdered reappears (as an extra) in the very next scene.
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: Steve Codell says he'd rather jump to his doom than join Kalgan (or be put on ice). He's just climbing over the railing when Kalgan gives him a push.
  • Bridge Bunnies: Some of whom are dressed so scantily they may as well be Hugh Hefner Bunnies.
  • The Captain: Commander Jansen.
  • Chase Scene: Done with floor waxers.
  • The Chosen One: Ryder.
  • Cool Starship: The Galactica The Southern Sun.
  • Covers Always Lie: Sort of. The Agony Booth tells us that the VHS packaging claims the film features "breathtaking special effects from the team that brought you Star Wars." This is technically true, in the sense that the team that worked on Star Wars went on to do SFX for the original Battlestar Galactica series, Stock Footage from which was used for Space Mutiny. The rest of the film's special effects, on the other hand...
  • Creator Backlash: The credited director, David Winters (whose other major contribution to the world of cinema was choreographing the dance routines in The Star Wars Holiday Special) actually only directed a small portion of it, after which he quit due to family troubles. He wanted his credit changed to Alan Smithee, but found out the hard way that the Director's Guild doesn't really care about the credits on low-budget exploitation films.
    • For an encore, Neal Sundstrom, the director who was actually responsible for the bulk of the film, wasn't very happy with the finished product either, and elected to have a "co-director" title which was buried in the end credits.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: A Colony Ship that's old enough to have over a dozen generations of people on it can somehow take on three Space Pirate ships and win in a few seconds.
    • Any time Ryder fights, he wins.
  • Dawson Casting: Lea (very obviously), Ryder (less obviously, making the former example all the more glaring).
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: At first, Lea hates Ryder, blaming him for the death of her friend the professor. Of course, she falls for him the very next scene.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "We keep this TOP CLASSIFIED SECRET."
    • "And there wasn't time to go to the auxiliary backup system."
  • Die Hard On A Spaceship.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady (or is it Lady Looks Like A Dude?)

David Ryder: Listen lady!
Lea: Doctor!
Ryder: Doctor.

  • Join or Die: Variant. Kalgan offers a technician who discovers his evil plot to either join or be cyrogenically frozen. The technician chooses a third option of dying. Kalgan obliges.
  • Large Ham: Not only our hero Ryder, but Kalgan and his right-hand flunky MacPherson.

Kalgan: I'm surrounded by incompetence! I'm being undermined by my own disciples!

  • Laughably Evil: Kalgan
  • May-December Romance: The Bellarians giving a lapd-- ahem, imparting the truth to the captain.
  • Mickey Mousing: When MacPherson stabs a dissenting crew member.
  • Mooks: The Enforcers.
  • Moral Dissonance: Ryder's gruesome method of dispatching the helpless MacPherson.
  • Neutral Female: Lea's attempts to help out in a firefight are marginally effective at best. At worst, she does more damage to Ryder than to Kalgan, because she shoots Ryder's go-kart.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Averted, big time.
    • Mainly because the spaceship's sets were mostly a real-world factory.
  • The Omniscient Coven of Vagueness: Oh yes -- a group of gauze-clad Space Witches called Bellerians show up early in the film, and proceed to do nothing for the rest of the film except exposit Fauxlosophically about the plot and dance in gauze.
    • Note that they have exactly no impact on the plot. It's fairly obvious the part was added after everything else was shot, since except for the one brief scene with Santa no-one they interact with ever shows up in the main story even as mooks.
  • Parody Retcon: Assuming you don't take Mrs. Cameron's insistence that this was a Stealth Parody at face value, of course.
  • People Jars: Kalgan tends to freeze prisoners (or failure subordinates) in cryogenic suspension rather than kill them outright. This is actually a fairly canny move, as once he's taken over the ship he can thaw them out so they can still be useful to him. Unfortunately the movie didn't have a budget for a cryogenics lab so they just hung four or five guys wrapped in plastic up on a coat rack.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Not the actual pirates in the movie, who at least try to do something, but this trope does apply to Captain Devers.
  • Punch Clock Villain: The Mortuary Keeper is just there running the facility where failed Mooks are frozen until necessary. He may work for the villain, but when the heroes arrive he asks if they need help or would like a cup of tea. He also answers all their questions about the Big Bad's Evil Plan. He doesn't really seem evil at all.
    • You could arguably count Lobster Boy and the Enforcers as a whole, though they're at the very least openly mean-spirited.
  • Railing Kill: The Trope Namer, seeing as they appear in abundance. Hell, it even appears in the poster above.
  • Red Right Hand: MacPhearson's limp.
  • Relationship Reboot: Blast Hardcheese and Doctor Lady do this.
  • Romance on the Set: The awkward romance between Dave and Lea is a major contrast to real life - Reb Brown (Dave) and Cisse Cameron (Lea) fell in love during the Ted Knight Show back in 1979, and are still married today.
  • The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction. Lea on the doughy henchmen.
  • Screaming Warrior: What Ryder is supposed to sound like.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: After the final make-out session, the camera cuts to a shot of the whatever's engines flaring as it boosts upwards across the screen.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Ryder mentions an "auxiliary backup system."
  • Slasher Smile: For no readily apparent reason, Lea sports one of these while accidentally firing on Ryder's Enforcer kart... thus making her shooting at Ryder not appear accidental at all.
  • Space Clothes: An unfortunate double standard seems to be set: women often wear Space Leotards (though some do get to wear actual uniforms), the men mostly...don't. The captain wears a silvery muumuu.
  • Stealth Parody: Again, taking Cisse Cameron's word for it, this film was still perhaps too good at emulating the films it was trying to spoof.
    • If this is actually true, if this movie actually was intended to be a parody from the beginning, the simple fact that nobody buys that it was intentionally this bad is a testament to what an incredible job they did. This is a perfect storm of terrible, the entire cast is fascinatingly inept, mugging and stumbling and chewing the scenery over dialogue so awkwardly bad and yet so eminently quotable while the jaw-droppingly ridiculous special effects fight for screentime with laughable costuming and hilarious action scenes and impossible-to-ignore gaffs like a murder victim popping up as an extra in the foreground of the very next scene. Everything about this movie is at the exact perfect pitch of So Bad It's Good, to the point where it becomes So Bad Its Brilliant. In essence, if this actually is a Stealth Parody, the makers of this movie are unsung and forgotten geniuses of film, worthy of mention in the same sentence as the likes of Mel Brooks in his prime.
    • More of a parody of movie making itself than the sci-fi genre, though.
  • Stripperiffic: Female crewmembers besides Lt. Lamont all dress like American Gladiators.
  • Stock Footage: All the space footage was taken from Battlestar Galactica‍'‍s stock footage.
    • The Ship in this movie flies in the opposite direction from the original.
  • Stock Sound Effect: The movie used the same "red alert," sound effect used in Star Trek.
  • Strapped to An Operating Table: Kalgan's interrogation of Lea, which involves a whirring laser used to burn out her teeth. Lamest. Torture. Ever.
    • And the laser sounds exactly like a dentist's drill. And it works "not unlike ancient dental equipment. Not that you'd know anything about that."
  • Teleporters and Transporters: This is how Ryder "ejects" from his crashing ship. It's also how they enable Reb Brown to leave a "ship" that's stock footage from Battlestar Galactica.
  • This Is a Drill: Yet it's supposed to be a laser, despite the loud drill sounds.
  • Too Dumb to Live - Engineer Parsons. At first the faction of mutinous engineers led by MacPhearson aren't actually that bothered by Parsons' refusal to join in the mutiny... until he says these words which, unsurprisingly, proved to be his last:

"This is mutiny! This is treason! Which I warn you I must report!"

    • Also the engineers that MacPhearson kills in the big fight near the film's climax. Their response to a man shooting wildly in their direction is apparently to ignore him and hope he'll go away.
    • Lea makes a wall-banger of a decision to go nip out from the bridge, after she and Big McLargeHuge have discussed the fact that the mutiny is ongoing. This allows Lea to grab the Distress Ball and be held hostage for...about 10 minutes.
  • You Look Familiar: The actress playing Lt. Lamont appears as an extra on the bridge... in a scene that immediately follows Lamont's death. Whoops.
  • Younger Than They Look: Lea.
  • Zeerust: The future looks a lot like The Eighties.