Battle Beyond the Stars - 1980
A pastiche of The Magnificent Seven in space. Shad, a young farmer, assembles a band of diverse mercenaries in outer space to defend his peaceful planet from the evil tyrant Sador and his armada of aggressors.
Among the mercenaries are Space Cowboy, a spacegoing truck driver from Earth; Gelt, a wealthy but experienced assassin looking for a place to hide; and Saint-Exmin, a Valkyrie warrior looking to prove herself in battle.
BraveStarr: The Movie - 1988
BraveStarr: The Movie is an animated Space Western released on March 18, 1988 by Taurus Entertainment. The film was based on Filmation's television series and Mattel's action figure of the same name, and was also among the first animated features to use computer graphics.
The film tells the story of the original discovery of Kerium (a fictional ore that serves as the main plot element of the TV series), and how the Galactic Marshall Bravestarr came to battle Tex Hex (a wanted outlaw) and his master Stampede (an evil spirit in the form of a bull skull) on the planet of New Texas.
It also introduces his allies: J.B. (a female judge), Thirty/Thirty (his talking horse, who can become bipedal and fight on his own), Deputy Fuzz (one of the Prairie People, the original indigenous people of New Texas), and the Shaman (BraveStarr's mentor who helps him discover his animal-based powers).
Galaxina is a low-budget American comedy/science fiction film, best remembered for its lead actress, Playboy Playmate of the Year for 1980 Dorothy Stratten, who was murdered shortly after the movie's release. Besides its parodies of science fiction mainstays like Star Wars, this film also pokes fun at western movies.
An IMDB reviewer describes this cellar dwellar space western the best: If you ever wondered what a porn movie would look like if you took out the sex and just left in the bad dialog, cheap sets and bad acting, you would have Galaxina.
This film came out when the Original Star Wars proved there was a market for Science Fiction. This in turn lead to some gems such as Alien. Unfortunately, it also led to some bad movies, and this was one of them.
Here's the underlying problem. Dorothy Stratton couldn't act, so for most of the movie, they didn't even let her try. I understand her tragic death has given this film an undeserved cult status, but for the life of me I can't understand why.
Outland - 1981
Marshal W.T. O'Niel is assigned to a mining colony on Io, one of Jupiter's moons. During his tenure miners are dying - usually violently. When the marshal investigates he discovers the one thing all the deaths have in common is a lethal amphetamine-type drug, which allows the miners to work continuously for days at a time until they become "burned out" and expire.
O'Niel follows the trail of the dealers, which leads to the man overseeing the colony. Now O'Niel must watch his back at every turn, as those who seek to protect their income begin targeting him.
Here's another film where the plot employs both sub-genres, Western Sci-fi and Time Travel. Lyle Swann is a well-known dirt bike motorcycle racer who is in the desert competing in the Baja 1000, a multiclass vehicle cross-country race.
Swann has a reputation for being a great rider but is plagued by technical problems from the high-tech gadgetry he incorporates into his C and J framed XT500 Yamaha.
When Swann accidentally goes far off course, he stumbles across a time travel experiment that utilizes "maser velocity acceleration" to send objects (in this case, a simian subject by the name of Ester G) back in time.
Swann rides through the field and gets sent back to November 5, 1877. The scientists in charge of the experiment soon realize what has happened, but Swann rides off, unaware of what has happened to him, before he can be returned to the present.
While taking a swim break in a local spring, he runs into a gang of outlaws led by Porter Reese. Reese becomes obsessed with stealing Swann's motorcycle, and the outlaws pursue Swann into the small village of San Marcos.
But his red suit and dirt bike scare the local Mexicans, who think he is the Devil or 'El Diablo' as the villagers scream which means 'Devil' in Spanish. There, he meets a beautiful woman, Claire Cygne, who gives him a safe place to hide.
As our referenced quote states in SFMZ's Sci-Fi Subgenres A to Z feature, WESTERN SCI-FI has elements of science fiction in a Western setting. It is the inverse of the Space Western. A science fiction Western occurs in the past, or in a world resembling the past (Westworld), in which modern or future technology exists. This sub-genre often overlaps with Steampunk.
SPACE WESTERN transposes themes of American Western books and film (e.g., cowboys) to a backdrop of futuristic space frontiers; it is the complement of the science fiction Western.
A similar sub-genre, FRONTIER SCI-FI centers on stories of people conquering new frontiers, leaving our world to colonize a preferable one. Similar to hardscrabble miners, crafty independent spacemen ply the asteroid belt in search of resources to send back to civilization.
Cowboys and Aliens 2011
Plot & Screenshots
In 1873, Arizona Territory, an unnamed loner (Daniel Craig) awakens in the desert injured, with no memory, and a strange metal band shackled to his wrist. He wanders into the small town of Absolution, where the local preacher, Meacham (Clancy Brown), treats his wound. After the stranger subdues Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano), who has been terrorizing the populace, Sheriff Taggart (Keith Carradine) recognizes him as Jake Lonergan, a wanted outlaw, and tries to arrest him. Jake nearly escapes, but a mysterious woman named Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde) knocks him out.
Percy's father, Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), a rich and influential cattleman, arrives with his men and demands that Percy be released to him. He also wants Jake, who stole Dolarhyde's gold. During the standoff, alien spaceships begin attacking the town, and Percy, the sheriff, and many townsfolk are abducted. Jake shoots down one ship with a device concealed in his wrist band, ending the attack.
Dolarhyde, Ella, and some townsfolk form a posse to track an alien that may have ejected from the downed ship. Jake, meanwhile, travels to an abandoned cabin, and in a flashback, recalls returning there with the gold just before he and a woman, Alice, were abducted by the aliens. Jake returns to join the posse. During the night, the alien they were tracking appears and kills Meacham, who sacrifices himself to save Emmett, Taggart's grandson.
By the next morning, most of the posse has deserted, and the others are attacked by Jake's former gang. Jake, who stole the gang's loot after their last heist, attempts to retake control, but fails. As he and the others flee, the aliens begin attacking again and Ella is seized. Jake jumps aboard the ship and attacks the alien pilot, causing the ship to crash, but Ella is mortally wounded.
Chiricahua Apaches capture the posse, blaming them for the alien attacks. As Ella's body is dumped on a fire, she is fully resurrected. Ella is actually an alien who traveled to Earth to help humans resist the invaders after they destroyed her homeworld. The aliens, who have been abducting humans to perform experiments on, are also mining gold to power their machines.
Ella claims Jake holds the secret to the aliens' whereabouts and says they must stop them before they exterminate all life on the planet. After taking Mescaline offered by the Indians, Jake recalls that Alice died in an alien experiment, but he escaped, inadvertently stealing the alien weapon. He can also remember the aliens' hidden location. They are not invulnerable, however: Jake's gauntlet weapon can kill them, as well as stabbing and shooting, though the creatures are far stronger and more durable than humans and have superior weapons.
Armed with this knowledge, the group, now led by Colonel Dolarhyde, prepares to attack the aliens' grounded mothership. Jake returns to his old gang and persuades them to join the fight. In a sneak attack, the humans breach the spaceship, forcing the aliens into a ground battle. Jake and Ella board the ship and free the captives, but Jake is captured. Dolarhyde rescues him and both men escape the ship after killing the alien leader.
As the remaining aliens are taking off in their damaged craft, Ella sacrifices herself, destroying the ship using Jake's gauntlet. Jake's memory partially returns, and some abducted townsfolk can recall their past. Still a wanted man, Jake decides to leave; the sheriff and Dolarhyde say they will claim that he was killed. The citizens intend to rebuild the town with the expectation that the newly discovered gold mine will soon bring many new settlers.