It’s the thirty-first anniversary of the release of George Lucas’s Star Wars. That means it’s the thirtieth anniversary of the so-called “Star Wars Clones”—cheapie knockoffs made to cash in on the Star Wars hype. These films knew no borders, stemming from around the globe and often crossing generic lines.
While Star Wars isn’t the most original film itself—based heavily on Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress and John Ford’s The Searchers—it tapped into the Jungian collective unconscious and tread ground defined in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. From there, the film became something of a cinematic sandbox from which elements were openly pilfered by filmmakers far and wide. The open desert, the kidnapped princess, the masked villain, the larger-than-life creature, the cute sidekick, the bar full of “strange creatures”; all of these archetypes were reworked by Lucas and subsequently reappeared in over a half dozen rip-off films (and a few parodies, such as Mel Brooks’s Space Balls, Ernie Fosselius’s Hardware Wars and the “Family Guy” special, Blue Harvest).
For the next seven days, I’ll be examining some of the more notable Star Wars rip-offs (and a few films that have been unfairly saddled with this label).