While patrolling a section of the galaxy, a group of space explorers and scientists discover a derelict ship floating near an ominous black hole. Boarding the craft, they soon discover it is manned by a refined madman and his army of zombies and robots. After an exhausting round of never-ending laser gun battles, the crew takes a wild dunk into the black hole itself. And no, the Millennium Falcon and HAL 9000 are nowhere to be seen. But evil robot Maximilian is, and he’s pretty damn cool.
Yes folks, Disney joined the many when they ripped off STAR WARS (1977) and released their first PG rated movie in 1979. The list of rip-offs or films inspired by the George Lucas space epic was getting longer and longer near the end of the decade, with THE BLACK HOLE joining a whole slew of flashy space operas including STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (1979), ALIEN (1979), MOONRAKER (1979), theatrical releases of the television pilots for BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY (1979) and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (1978) and one our favorites here at Daily Grindhouse: STARCRASH (1978).
Being such a blatant rip-off, THE BLACK HOLE has unfairly accumulated a number of haters over the years, this fan not included. Sure it’s full of cheesy robots trying to win us over by acting cutesy a la R2-D2.
And yes, some of the acting is wooden, but who really cares in a film of this type (STAR WARS was full of wooden thespians as well), especially when it’s being delivered by genre favorites Robert Forster, Anthony Perkins, Ernest Borgnine, and Yvette Mimieux.
And tell me lead villain Maximilian Schell wouldn’t work as a Blofeld type villain in a James Bond film…well, at least in a Roger Moore vehicle.
Other pluses include the previously mentioned Maximilian (those whirling blades for hands…don’t get me started), John Barry’s score and some truly impressive special effects set-pieces, particularly a sequence involving a meteor shower.
So before you ditch this one and hope it gets lost in a black hole itself, check out the flick again with an open mind. Like most of the genre films we take a peek at, THE BLACK HOLE has its strengths, and I’m convinced it can win over a few more followers if given a chance.
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