Starship Invasions is a 1977 Canadian science-fiction film with a horrific sub-theme written, produced and directed by Ed Hunt (Halloween Hell; The Brain; Bloody Birthday). It was re-released in the United Kingdom as Project Genocide. The movie stars Christopher Lee and Robert Vaughn (Buried Alive; Killing Birds; Teenage Caveman). The notable soundtrack score is by Gil Melle (Blood Beach).
Once, during an interview, distinguished British actor Christopher Lee was asked to name the worst film in which he had appeared.
Being a very busy actor who appeared in well over two hundred films, Lee paused for a minute to give it some thought and then eventually said that, in 1977, he had appeared in a Canadian science fiction film in which he played a mute alien who was using a suicide ray to conquer Earth. Though he wasn’t quite sure what the title had been, that was his pick for the worst movie in which he had ever appeared.
Now, considering some of the films in which Lee appeared, that’s a bold statement. Was Lee correct? Was that film — Starship Invasions — the worst film in which he ever appeared?
Well …. maybe. It’s certainly not one of his best. Lee plays Captain Ramses, who is the leader of the Legion of the Winged Serpents. The legion’s home planet is about to be destroyed by a supernova so he has taken it upon himself to find a new planet to colonize. Earth looks pretty good to him!
Christopher Lee remembered Ramses as being mute. Actually, he communicates through telepathy. We hear his words but his lips never move. The same is true of every alien that appears in the film. And yes, this could be an example of how different and more advanced the aliens are when compared to the humans but a more likely explanation is that it was cheaper to film the outer space scenes without sound and then just dub in the character’s “thoughts” later.
For reasons that are never quite clear, the Legion of the Winged Serpent abducts several Earthlings before then unleashing their suicide ray. Professor Allan Duncan (Robert Vaughn) is the UFO expert who investigates the abductions before eventually getting abducted himself by a race of good, grey aliens. The grey aliens are determined to save the Earth from the Legion. It’s never really explained why.
Meanwhile, the suicide ray is causing chaos on Earth as people all over are driven to kill themselves and others. And the ray has just been aimed at Duncan’s wife (played by Helen Shaver) so Allan and the good aliens better hurry up and defeat Ramses and the bad aliens!
Is Starship Invasions really that bad? Well, it’s certainly not …. great. Christopher Lee is properly imposing as Ramses but even he occasionally has a “What have I gotten myself into?” look on his face. Most of all, Starship Invasions is very much a product of the 1970s. When Ramses visits a space station, it looks a lot like an incredibly tacky mix of a fitness centre and a cocktail lounge.
The fashion of both the Earthlings and the aliens is very much of the era. Robert Vaughn wears a turtleneck that just screams “community college history teacher.” The special effects are rather cheap and the plot never makes much sense. The scenes with the suicide ray, however, are surprisingly effective and the film does have a certain campy charm to it, especially if you’re into low-budget 70s sci-fi. Starship Invasions is probably not Christopher Lee’s worst film. It’s just one of his cheapest.
Lisa Marie Bowman, guest reviewer via Horror Critic
“Although it is relatively painless to watch, Starship Invasions takes itself a little to seriously to really be successful. It’s obvious that Hunt is fascinated with UFOlogy, having made no less than three films which delve into the subject. Unfortunately, his attempt to marry the more “scientific” UFO lore found in dusty library books to “space opera” concepts such as underwater pyramids and Durbal, the ill-conceived robot, was doomed to fail from the beginning.” Canuxploitation!
“Star Wars used up all of the special effects, Christopher Lee doesn’t get to move his mouth at any point during the film, and we’re pretty sure the million dollars mostly went toward the staggering quantities of meth Ed Hunt et al must have consumed to make this movie.” Something Awful
“This film is chock full of 1960s and 1970s clichés that Star Wars more or less abolished, including the UFO abduction thing, space battle sequences that look cheesy rather than cool, and aliens saying things like “oh yeah, we built the pyramids,” and “You humans use only 1 per cent of your brains.” Sigh.” i09
“Half the time it’s silly and laughable like those Italian Star Odyssey knock-offs. But the rest of this Canadian made picture is eerie and strange, an apparent attempt to take UFOs seriously. As I write this in 2010, many viewers posting on YouTube or the IMDb recall being frightened by it children. Distorted sound effects and blatant suicide sequences can still unnerve adults 30+ years after initial release.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers
Cast and characters:
Robert Vaughn … Prof. Allan Duncan
Christopher Lee … Capt. Rameses
Daniel Pilon … Anaxi
Tiiu Leek … Phi
Helen Shaver … Betty Duncan
Henry Ramer … Malcolm
Victoria Johnson … Gazeth
Doreen Lipson … Dorothy
Kate Parr … Diane Duncan
Sherri Ross … Sagnac
Linda Rennhofer … Joan
Richard Fitzpatrick … Joe
Ted Turner … Zhender
Sean McCann … Carl
Bob Warner … Air Force General
Aspect ratio: 1.33: 1