Retro Review: Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone

The film, which stars Peter Strause, Molly Ringwald and a pre-Ghostbuster's Ernie Hudson was one of many straight to video sci-fi releases, which cashed in on the success of things like Mad Max and Star Wars back in the day.

Synopsis: A bounty hunter (Peter Strause) teams up with an orphan (Molly Ringwald) to rescue three women kidnapped by the rule of a plague-infected planet.

Review: While searching through the Free science fiction movies available to view on Amazon Prime I came across Spacehunter, which is a film I remember my late mother renting for me back in 1984 while I was off school sick. So given that I was feeling nostalgic. I figured why not.

The film, which stars Peter Strause, Molly Ringwald and a pre-Ghostbuster’s Ernie Hudson was one of many straight to video sci-fi releases, which cashed in on the success of things like Mad Max and Star Wars back in the day. It’s fair to say that most of these movies went for the more sillier side of things.

The Story

While drifting through space monitoring transmissions. Bounty Hunter Wolf comes across a distress call from a downed cruise ship, which has landed three survivors on a plague-infested planet.

Tempted by the high reward for rescuing the three women. Wolf sets out on a mission to rescue the three young women and take the reward for himself, but things don’t work out that way.  Along the way, Wolf bumps into a young orphan girl who is barely out of her teens and an old friend back from his military days.

Together they set about rescuing the three young women from the evil Overdog who is played by a barely recognizable Michael Ironside.

The Acting

The acting is perhaps this movie saving grace. Peter Strause oozes sarcasm as the bounty hunter Wolf, who is obviously somewhat inspired by Han Solo, but this is a Han Solo without his Chewbacca. Molly Ringwald is fantastic fun as the troublesome teenager who acts as a guide for Wolf, but more often than not guides him into more trouble. While Ernie Hudson provides some levity to things as Wolf’s old friend from his military days who is also after the money.

Michael Ironside is great value as the villain, but barely recognizable given the amount of make-up he is in. Which looks like something that could well have been rejected from a clive barker movie.

Visual Effects & Models

Made in 1983. This film was very much in the day of practical effects and it is done very much on the cheap, which means that the actors have to work so much harder.

While the model work for the spaceships and the land vehicles is good and very interesting to look at. The make-up on the various alien monsters that wolf encounters is not that great. There is a sequence midway through the film where Wolf and Niki run away from a group of monsters, which are obviously actors in heavily made-up fat suits. I thought for a moment that Russell T. Davies may have got inspiration from this film for the dreadful Slitheen from Doctor Who. But no. These monsters were worse than that.

It’s quite sad really. Because many of the poor make-up effects undermine the film. Which has a fairly decent music store and some pretty decent actors.

It is worth noting that Peter Strause prior to this was probably best known for the TV mini-series ‘Rich man Poor Man’ while Molly Ringwald and Ernie Hudson were just starting their careers.


This is a film that is probably best watched with low expectations. While the acting is generally pretty solid. It is undermined by not so great effects. It would be interesting to see how they’d go about making this film with modern visual effects. In short when judged by today’s standards. This film doesn’t hold up particularly well.

Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Visual Effects
  • Incidental Music

Ian Cullen is the founder of and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: When he is not writing for Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of You can contact ian at: [email protected]
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