Let me be honest from the beginning: Space Truckers (1996) is not a particularly good movie, but it’s nowhere near as bad as many reviewers would have you think. Sure, it has a 15% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it also has Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister on HBO’s Game of Thrones) revving up his chainsaw penis for a quickie with a space babe.
So, I don’t know, I think it’s worth the price of admission—which is currently free on Amazon Prime—and I think you may too. I mean, c’mon, Space Truckers has garish 90s costumes, square pigs, and George Wendt (Norm Peterson on Cheers) getting his intestines ripped out of his body through his butthole.
Who DOESN’T want to see that?
Space Truckers follows Dennis Hopper as—you guessed it—a space trucker who is hired to carry a mysterious cargo back to Earth. But things go sideways fast and, along with sidekicks Stephen Dorf and Debi Mazar, he quickly finds himself in a fight for the survival of all humanity.
Yeah, it’s your stereotypical B-movie action schlock, but it has a lot of heart. It’s an independent film poking fun at Hollywood blockbusters. Doesn’t pull it off 100%, but I like what they were shooting for.
Dennis Hopper played a lot of villains in the 80s and 90s. I think most movie aficionados can recall his bizarre and terrifying performance in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, but he was also the main villain in Super Mario Bros., Speed, and Waterworld. In Space Truckers, however, it’s fun to see him play against type and be the hero. Hopper looks like he’s having a good time.
Stephen Dorf who is probably best remembered as the angsty vampire villain in Blade, comes off as sweet and loveable here. It’s not a one-note performance. It has range.
And Debi Mazar—who had smaller roles in 90s films like Goodfellas, Little Man Tate, and Singles—is the type of no-nonsense, quick-witted heroine that modern day cinema can’t seem to put on film correctly. She’s got attitude. She’s got ideas. She’s got a character arch.
Oh, and then there’s Barbara Crampton making a third-act appearance out of nowhere. Who doesn’t LOVE Barbara Crampton?
And remember those square pigs I mentioned? Well, that’s actually a nifty sci-fi idea. They’re genetically altered so that they can stack for shipment. Believe me, they’re simultaneously cute and hella ugly in the movie, but have you ever seen a SQUARE PIG before? I didn’t think so.
The charm of this movie comes from the budgetary restrictions. They’re trying to do a campy version of Star Wars without the money. It’s quaint, charming, and great to throw on the TV in the background.
You may know director Stuart Gordon from cult horror films like Re-Animator, Bride of Re-Animator, From Beyond, and Castle Freak, but few have seen his mid-90s space-faring outing, Space Truckers. I’d argue that Space Truckers has the same comedic sense and overall weirdness of those other films, so if you’re a Gordon fan, I definitely recommend checking it out.