Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Howard R. Cohen|
|Produced by||Roger Corman|
|Written by||Howard R. Cohen|
|Music by||James Horner|
|Edited by||R. J. Kizer|
|Distributed by||New World Pictures|
6 April 1984 (West Germany)
Space Raiders, also known as Star Child, is a 1983 space Western film written and directed by Howard R. Cohen and produced by Roger Corman. The film was made during the time when many studios were releasing space opera films following the success of Star Wars, however, the film was panned by critics, especially for its reuse of special effects footage and music (composed by James Horner) taken from Corman's 1980 film Battle Beyond the Stars.
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The story begins with Captain C.F. "Hawk" Hawkens (Vince Edwards) - a former Space Service Colonel turned pirate - who leads his crew on a mission to steal a freighter owned by an interstellar corporation simply referred to as "The Company". During the theft, a 10-year-old boy named Peter (David Mendenhall) slips aboard the freighter to hide and the pirates steal the ship unaware he is aboard. After the freighter rendezvouses with Hawk's ship, the crew fight to save the life of a comrade wounded during the shootout. Meanwhile, Peter comes out of hiding and asks to be taken home.
At first, Hawk considers ransoming the child, but during a skirmish with Company fighters, Hawk's feelings change when Peter courageously volunteers to squeeze into a tight compartment and fixes a damaged power conduit that allows them to escape. Hawk then promises to take Peter back to his home planet, Procyon III, with no strings attached. First however, Hawk's crew stop to rest at a space station owned by an alien crime lord named Zariatin (Ray Stewart).
On Procyon III, Peter's father meets with The Company's security director who decides to track the boy down with their advanced robot ship; a massive, fully automated battle cruiser that can home in on an identity tag Peter wears around his neck.
Back at Zariatin's station, a pair of bounty hunters spot Peter and realize he is a "company kid" worth a hefty ransom. When Peter wanders off, Flightplan (Thom Christopher), a psychic alien member of Hawk's crew, senses the boy is in danger. When Hawk finds him, Zariatin arrives and is furious a child is snooping around his station. Hawk promises the kid will not be a problem, but threatens to kill Zariatin if he tries to lay a hand on him.
While Hawk and crew relax in the bar, a bored Peter slips out of his cabin and the bounty hunters follow. Meanwhile, Zariatin calls Hawk to remind him that his service fees are long past due. Zeriatin then demands that Hawk steal four Company fuel ships from a depot on Regulus V, but as an incentive, the boy must remain at the station. Hawk refuses to leave Peter behind, but agrees to steal the ships. He orders his crew member Amanda (Patsy Pease) to take Peter home in one of ships once the job is pulled off.
Hawk returns to Peter's cabin, but finds the boy missing and races back to the bar. In the meantime, Peter spots the bounty hunters and escapes down a maintenance shaft. He makes it to a vent grating outside the tavern just as a barroom brawl ensues among belligerent spacers. Unfortunately, Hawk is unable to hear Peter's cries for help over the ruckus and the bounty hunters capture him. Thinking Zeriatin has taken Peter, Hawk confronts him, but just then, Zariatin is alerted that the bounty hunters are making an unauthorized departure which Hawk believes can only mean that they have the boy.
Hawk immediately give chase, but the hunters soon encounter the Company robot ship. Programmed for self-defense, the ship reacts to being fired upon and destroys the bounty hunter's ship. Peter manages to get away in an escape pod which is later picked up by Hawk once Flightplan senses he is still alive.
Back on course to Regulus V, Hawk teaches Peter how to fire the ship's lasers using asteroids as target practice. Once at the planet, Hawk's crew go after the tanker ships and Hawk says his goodbyes to Peter. After a battle with security robots, Hawk's crew succeeds in taking the ships, but nearby, the Company observes the theft with the robot ship and orders it to follow the convoy.
Meanwhile, Amanda breaks off to take Peter home, but her ship is ambushed by starfighters sent by Zeriatin and crashes on a nearby planet. Afterward, Amanda is killed by Zeriatin's thugs and Peter is captured. He is taken back to the station and brought before Zeriatin who tells him he will be ransomed back to his parents and his friends will be killed. Having returned to the station, Flightplan tells the others, to their disbelief, that he senses Peter is still somewhere aboard and goes looking for him. He finds and rescues the boy, but is shot by Zeriatin's guards as they try and flee. Peter gets away and finds Hawk in the bar with his two remaining crewmen.
The station now comes under alert as the robot ship closes in. The station launches several defense ships in response, but none can stop it. Peter and the remainder of Hawk's crew try to flee the station, but they are confronted by Zeriatin and his men. The last two of Hawk's crew are killed off, and Hawk manages to kill Zeriatin, but not before being shot himself. Peter then struggles to get Hawk back to his ship where they get away just moments before the station explodes.
The robot ship sets its sights on Hawk's ship next, but unable to outrun it, Hawk tells Peter to fire the lasers the moment the robot ship lowers its defenses, which it must do to fire its weapons. Hawk closes in and Peter takes the shot successfully destroying the enemy ship. Peter's victory is short lived however, and he tries to save Hawk's life who has passed out in the pilot seat. Hawk returns to consciousness and takes Peter home as promised. There, they say their final goodbyes and a sad and worried Peter disembarks the ship. Although severely wounded, Hawk flies off back into space.
Corman sold New World Pictures in January 1983 for $16.9 million. Under the terms of the contract, he agreed to stay on as consultant for two years and that New World would distribute any movies he made until February 1984. He agreed to provide the company with a minimum of five films they could release. He set up a new production company, Millennium - the title of which was taken from the name of a 1981 retrospective of Corman's work at the National Film Theatre of London. He announced plans to make films budgeted between $2-5 million using cash from his sale of New World to finance. He wanted to make less commercial films. Millennium's films included Space Raiders, Love Letters, Screwballs and Suburbia (which he acquired).
On September 2, 2014, Scorpion Releasing released Space Raiders on DVD as a standard release, and on Blu-ray as a 2,000 unit limited edition. The Special Features include the film's theatrical trailer and interviews with Roger Corman, star David Mendenhall, and postproduction supervisor Clark Henderson.As of February 19, 2016, the Blu-ray has not sold out and is still available for purchase at regular prices.