Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983)

PG | 90 mins | Science fiction | 20 May 1983

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HISTORY

The 24 Aug 1982 DV announced that principal photography for Adventures in the Creep Zone was scheduled to begin on 27 Sep 1982 in Alberta, Canada. However, the production was relocated to Vancouver, British Columbia, as reported in the 6 Oct 1982 Var. Producer Don Carmody attributed the decision to pressure from the Calgary, Alberta, chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) to hire local union personnel while filming in nearby Drumheller, and to rent the union’s equipment. Drumheller Alderman Gaye Ross bemoaned her city’s loss of the estimated $800,000 in revenues, but was unable to assign blame to either party. Carmody stated that he would be “reluctant” to consider Alberta for location filming, and planned to discourage others from doing the same.
       A news item in the 3 Nov 1982 DV announced the firing of director Jean Lafleur, and the hiring of his replacement, Lamont Johnson. Location photography would resume in Moab, UT, with interiors in Vancouver. The Apr-May 1983 Cinefantastique explained that Lafleur, who co-wrote the original screenplay, was dismissed two weeks into production for delivering “no usable footage.” Lamont Johnson commissioned screenwriters Len Bloom and Dan and Ilona Goldberg to “streamline the action and tone down elements he considered excessively vulgar.” Changes were made in costume and makeup design, the character, Niki, was “considerably softened,” a subplot concerning slave trading was abandoned, and villain “King Creep” was transformed into “Overdog.” Ilona Goldberg was not credited onscreen. The May 1983 Marquee noted that Johnson was hired with only seven days to ... More Less

The 24 Aug 1982 DV announced that principal photography for Adventures in the Creep Zone was scheduled to begin on 27 Sep 1982 in Alberta, Canada. However, the production was relocated to Vancouver, British Columbia, as reported in the 6 Oct 1982 Var. Producer Don Carmody attributed the decision to pressure from the Calgary, Alberta, chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) to hire local union personnel while filming in nearby Drumheller, and to rent the union’s equipment. Drumheller Alderman Gaye Ross bemoaned her city’s loss of the estimated $800,000 in revenues, but was unable to assign blame to either party. Carmody stated that he would be “reluctant” to consider Alberta for location filming, and planned to discourage others from doing the same.
       A news item in the 3 Nov 1982 DV announced the firing of director Jean Lafleur, and the hiring of his replacement, Lamont Johnson. Location photography would resume in Moab, UT, with interiors in Vancouver. The Apr-May 1983 Cinefantastique explained that Lafleur, who co-wrote the original screenplay, was dismissed two weeks into production for delivering “no usable footage.” Lamont Johnson commissioned screenwriters Len Bloom and Dan and Ilona Goldberg to “streamline the action and tone down elements he considered excessively vulgar.” Changes were made in costume and makeup design, the character, Niki, was “considerably softened,” a subplot concerning slave trading was abandoned, and villain “King Creep” was transformed into “Overdog.” Ilona Goldberg was not credited onscreen. The May 1983 Marquee noted that Johnson was hired with only seven days to prepare before filming resumed.
       During the hiatus, Carmody and executive producer Ivan Reitman decided to film in 3-D, and ordered a two-camera system from Ernest McNabb, who designed a similar system for the EPCOT Center in Florida. Reitman claimed to have decided on 3-D in twenty-four hours, believing the added expense would enhance the picture. He also believed it would attract a larger audience than other recent 3-D releases, which were generally modestly budgeted horror films. Distributor Columbia Pictures invested an additional $2 million in “specialty lenses” to insure proper projection in theatres. Because 3-D projection requires a silver screen, drive-in theaters equipped with white screens would receive two-dimensional prints. Seventy millimeter prints would be available to theaters in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Seattle, WA, and New York City. The picture was scheduled to open in 1,100 to 1,200 theaters nationwide.
       A documentary titled The Making of Spacehunter was in postproduction, according to the 5 Apr 1983 HR. As stated in a studio press release dated 25 Apr 1983, the twenty-three-minute film was “made available” to over 1,000 commercial, public, and cable television stations.
       According to the 3 Dec 1982 DV, filming began 8 Nov 1982 in Moab, and the picture was retitled Space Hunter. The planned four weeks of production were extended to six, due primarily to inclement weather, and secondarily to script changes.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files described production designer Jackson DeGovia’s vision of the planet “Terra Eleven” as a “junk world” where inhabitants are in a constant struggle for survival. He and his art directors purchased truckloads of airplane parts from an “aircraft graveyard” near Tucson, AZ. Some were fashioned into structures in the desert terrain of Moab, while others comprised “Graveyard City,” constructed at Dominion Bridge Works, a trestle factory in Vancouver. The building was large enough to house numerous interior sets, and contained offices, a cafeteria, and enough electrical power to accommodate a film crew. The “Barracuda Swamp,” another Vancouver set, was designed as a flooded electrical plant guarded by the “Barracuda Women” and their man-eating sea serpent. The metal pipes dominating the set were supplied by Ecco Plumbing and Heating. The walls of the pool were eighteen inches high, filled with only twelve inches of water. One section, however, included an eight-foot-deep automotive repair pit housing the mechanical sea serpent, which was operated by a team of SCUBA divers. The Barracuda Women were played by female bodybuilders from the Vancouver area. The “mutant children” of Terra Eleven were portrayed by adult “little people,” held in place at the edge of a cliff with steel cables attached to their costumes.
       Custom vehicles for the picture were built in Los Angeles, CA, under DeGovia’s supervision, including the “Scrambler” and the “Ramrod,” both constructed on Dodge pickup truck chassis. Another machine, called the “Roadox,” was a converted Canadian snowcat. A news item in the 25 Jan 1983 DV reported that the sets would be donated to Variety Clubs for auction upon completion of photography, which the 5 May 1983 HR reported as 29 Jan 1983.
       The 14 Mar 1983 Newsweek announced the picture’s 20 May 1983 release under its official title, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. An article in the 28 Mar 1983 DV estimated the budget at $12 million, approximately double the cost intended by the producers. Ivan Reitman described the film as “a space adventure with a sense of humor.”
       The 27 Apr 1983 DV reported that Hercules Films Limited, which produced Forbidden Zone (1980, see entry) “obtained a temporary restraining order” prohibiting the release of Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone pending a title change. A hearing was scheduled for 28 Apr 1983. However, the 25 Apr 1983 HR noted that the California Court of Appeals had already overturned the restraining order. Hercules Films sought a preliminary injunction against Columbia, according to the 4 May 1983 Var, but was denied by the Los Angeles Superior Court.
       The 5 May 1983 HR incorrectly touted the film as the first “nonexploitative” 3-D release by a major studio. The original 3 Jun 1983 release date was changed to 20 May, ensuring the picture would be in release ahead of Universal Pictures’ Jaws 3-D (1983, see entry), due to open in Jul 1983. Five days later, the 10 May 1983 HR corrected the announcement, citing several non-exploitation films released in 3-D by major studios in the 1950s.
       Preview screenings were held 7 May and 12 May 1983 at the Directors Guild of America in West Hollywood, CA, and on 19 May 1983 at the Village Theatre in Los Angeles. Although Spacehunter opened to negative reviews, the 24 May 1983 LAHExam noted that it was the highest grossing film in current release. Actor Peter Strauss agreed with critics, saying, “It isn’t the picture I thought I was making.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Cinefantastique
Apr-May 1983
p. 9.
Daily Variety
24 Aug 1982
p. 1, 10.
Daily Variety
3 Nov 1982.
---
Daily Variety
3 Dec 1982.
---
Daily Variety
25 Jan 1983.
---
Daily Variety
28 Mar 1983
p. 1, 31.
Daily Variety
27 Apr 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Apr 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 May 1983
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 May 1983
p. 3, 13.
LAHExam
24 May 1983.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 May 1983
p. 1.
Marquee
May 1983.
---
New York Times
21 May 1983
p. 29.
Newsweek
14 Mar 1983
p. 47.
Variety
6 Oct 1982
p. 4, 28.
Variety
4 May 1983.
---
Variety
11 May 1983.
---
Variety
18 May 1983
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Columbia Pictures Presents
An Ivan Reitman Production
Of a Lamont Johnson Film
From Columbia - Delphi Productions
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
Prod mgr, Vancouver
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
&
Scr
and
Scr
&
Scr
Based on a story by
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
3-D consultant
Cam op
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Best boy
Key grip
Best boy
Dolly grip
Set up grip
Cam car
Crane op
Still photog
2d unit cam, 1st asst
2d unit cam, 2d asst
2d unit cam, 2d asst
Lighting tech, Utah
Elec
Elec
Asst key grip
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir
Art dept asst
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Ed asst (Vancouver)
Ed asst (Vancouver)
Ed room asst
Ed room asst
SET DECORATORS
Const coord
Spec props' const
Welder foreman
Metal sculptor
Metal sculptor
Metal sculptor
Metal sculptor
Topologist
Sculptor
Const foreman
Const foreman
Stand-by painter
Paint foreman
Paint foreman
Chief set dec
Set dec
Leadman
Leadman
Prop master
Asst props
Asst props
Prop buyer
Prop builder
Prop builder
Prop builder
Prop builder
Prop builder
Prop builder
Prop builder
Prop builder
Prop builder
Prop builder
Draftsman
Const personnel
Const personnel
Const personnel
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter helper
Carpenter helper
Carpenter helper
Painter
Painter
Painter
Painter
Painter asst
Set dec
Set dec
Asst set dec
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst ward
Asst ward
Asst ward
Asst ward
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Cutter-fitter
MUSIC
Mus ed
SOUND
Loc sd rec
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd processor
Sd re-rec
Sd re-rec
Sd re-rec
Sd facilities
Cableman
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Graphics
Opt coord
Spec visual eff prod by
Art dir, Fantasy II Film Effects
Spec eff supv, Fantasy II Film Effects
Spec eff supv, Fantasy II Film Effects
Prod supv, Fantasy II Film Effects
Model shop supv, Fantasy II Film Effects
Model maker, Fantasy II Film Effects
Model maker, Fantasy II Film Effects
Model maker, Fantasy II Film Effects
Model maker, Fantasy II Film Effects
Model maker, Fantasy II Film Effects
Model maker, Fantasy II Film Effects
Model maker, Fantasy II Film Effects
Miniature painter, Fantasy II Film Effects
Pyrotechnics, Fantasy II Film Effects
Cam op, Fantasy II Film Effects
Scenic consultant, Fantasy II Film Effects
Scenic consultant, Fantasy II Film Effects
Prod asst, Fantasy II Film Effects
Prod asst, Fantasy II Film Effects
Prod asst, Fantasy II Film Effects
Prod asst, Fantasy II Film Effects
Spec opt eff
Opt photog, Image 3
Opt photog, Image 3
Opt photog, Image 3
Lineup, Image 3
Matte paintings, Image 3
Eff anim, Image 3
Eff anim, Image 3
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff makeup
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Spec makeup eff by
Head hairstylist
Hairdresser
Hairdresser
Head makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Wig maker
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Loc mgr
Scr supv
Asst to Don Carmody
Supv prod auditor
Casting
Prod coord
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst prod coord
Casting asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod accountant (Moab)
Prod accountant (Vancouver)
Post-prod 3-D advisor
Post-prod asst
Transportation coord
Transportation coord
Driver capt
Shipping coord
Craftservice
Craftservice
Addl casting (Vancouver)
Unit pub
Motion picture equip
Motion picture equip
Prod accountant, Vancouver
Generator op
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Honeywagon driver
Welfare worker/Teacher
Shipping coord
Nurse, Utah
Nurse, Utah
Nurse, Vancouver
Projectionist, Utah
Typist
Caterer, Utah
Catering, Vancouver
Extra casting, Utah
Casting, Vancouver
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Asst stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Hang glider supv
Hang glider pilot
Hang glider pilot
Hang glider pilot
Hang glider pilot
Stunts
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Road Gangs
Adventures in the Creep Zone
Space Hunter
Spacehunter
Release Date:
20 May 1983
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 20 May 1983
Production Date:
8 November 1982--29 January 1983
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Dolby Stereo™® in selected theatres
Color
Widescreen/ratio
3-D
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Metrocolor®
Duration(in mins):
90
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27967
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the year 2136, three women, Meagan, Reena, and Nova, escape the wreck of a starship and are transported by space shuttle to Terra Eleven, the nearest inhabitable planet. Upon landing, they are rescued from hostile natives by Grandman Patterson, and taken aboard his “sail train,” a ship that travels on railroad tracks. Meanwhile, Wolff, a galactic adventurer, learns of the three survivors and of the 3,000-megacredit reward for their return to Earth. Wolff and Chalmers, his female android mechanic, recount the history of Terra Eleven, beginning with its colonization in 2013, followed by a nuclear war, then the plague of 2121. Patterson and McNab, the leaders of the 2122 medical expedition, formed rival factions. McNab is now known as the dictator “Overdog,” who replaced much of his aging body with robotic devices. Wolff and Chalmers land on Terra Eleven and search for the three women in their armored truck, called a “scrambler.” As Grandman Patterson’s sail train approaches, Overdog’s troops attack and abduct the three women. Patterson is wounded and two of his followers, brothers Jarrett and Duster, swear to kill Overdog. Wolff returns to the scrambler to find Chalmers damaged beyond repair. He sets out for “Graveyard City,” a shantytown constructed from scrap metal, and the capital of Overdog’s dominion, known as the “Zone.” During a brief stop, Wolff meets an orphaned girl named Niki, who offers to guide him to Graveyard City in exchange for food and clothing. When they camp for the night, Wolff becomes annoyed with the girl’s stench and forces her to bathe in a pond. An armored vehicle appears, ... +


In the year 2136, three women, Meagan, Reena, and Nova, escape the wreck of a starship and are transported by space shuttle to Terra Eleven, the nearest inhabitable planet. Upon landing, they are rescued from hostile natives by Grandman Patterson, and taken aboard his “sail train,” a ship that travels on railroad tracks. Meanwhile, Wolff, a galactic adventurer, learns of the three survivors and of the 3,000-megacredit reward for their return to Earth. Wolff and Chalmers, his female android mechanic, recount the history of Terra Eleven, beginning with its colonization in 2013, followed by a nuclear war, then the plague of 2121. Patterson and McNab, the leaders of the 2122 medical expedition, formed rival factions. McNab is now known as the dictator “Overdog,” who replaced much of his aging body with robotic devices. Wolff and Chalmers land on Terra Eleven and search for the three women in their armored truck, called a “scrambler.” As Grandman Patterson’s sail train approaches, Overdog’s troops attack and abduct the three women. Patterson is wounded and two of his followers, brothers Jarrett and Duster, swear to kill Overdog. Wolff returns to the scrambler to find Chalmers damaged beyond repair. He sets out for “Graveyard City,” a shantytown constructed from scrap metal, and the capital of Overdog’s dominion, known as the “Zone.” During a brief stop, Wolff meets an orphaned girl named Niki, who offers to guide him to Graveyard City in exchange for food and clothing. When they camp for the night, Wolff becomes annoyed with the girl’s stench and forces her to bathe in a pond. An armored vehicle appears, and Wolff, believing the occupants hostile, climbs aboard and blocks the driver’s vision, causing it to crash into a hillside. Sector Chief Washington emerges from the wreck and recognizes Wolff from their days together in the military. Washington informs Wolff that he has been assigned to rescue the three women and tries to discourage outside interference. However, because he is now without transportation, he offers Wolff 750 megacredits for a ride to the Graveyard. Wolff declines and leaves him stranded. That night, Wolff and Niki take refuge in a seemingly abandoned grain silo, but are awakened by its occupants, the corpulent “bat people,” who live in cocoons suspended from the ceiling. After the bat people chase the intruders from the silo, Wolff and Niki wade through the flooded basement of a former power plant. Its residents, the barracuda women, catch them in a net as food for their monstrous sea serpent. Wolff shoots the serpent to death, then he and Niki escape to the surface on foot. They wander the surrounding salt flats, hoping to reenter the plant and retrieve the scrambler, until Niki faints from exhaustion. Washington appears in his repaired vehicle, and informs them that he towed the scrambler back to the surface. He increases his offer to Wolff, explaining that his spacecraft is disabled and he is stranded on Terra Eleven. Wolff agrees to assist the sector chief, but demands half the reward money. Niki speculates on how she will spend the reward, until Wolff reminds her that he only agreed to share food and clothing, and has no interest in being her guardian. Jarrett and Duster join Wolff, Washington and Niki as they camp for the night. A band of mutant children gather on the hills above and drop firebombs, but the group escapes injury. As Jarrett and Duster speed away on their motorcycles, Washington worries they will inadvertently alert the Zone guards to the rescue team’s arrival. Upon reaching Graveyard City, Wolff orders Niki to remain in the vehicle for her safety. He and Washington subdue a pair of guards, steal their clothes, and join the crowd inside as a prisoner is killed in an obstacle course known as the “Death Maze.” Wolff and Washington join Jarrett and Duster in their effort to free prisoners from the slave pens. Meanwhile, Niki defies Wolff and enters the city, where she is captured and brought before Overdog, who promises to free her if she survives the Death Maze. However, when Niki reaches the finish line, Overdog breaks his promise and has his soldiers take her to his inner sanctum. She is chained to a machine that drains her life force to energize the dictator. Wolff comes to Niki’s rescue, dispatching soldiers along the way. He electrocutes Overdog with a broken power line, and the resulting explosion causes a chain reaction that collapses the city. Washington gathers Wolff, Niki, Jarrett, Duster, and the three women into his vehicle, and they escape as Graveyard City implodes. When Wolff returns to his spaceship, he offers to become Niki’s guardian. She accepts, expressing her certainty that they were destined to be partners. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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