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Fusing Snark and SciFi: 'Starcrash' at the Scottish Rite

Collingswood Community Theatre staged a benefit with a fun twist, involving beer, running commentary, and a little bit of David Hasselhoff.

Fusing Snark and SciFi: 'Starcrash' at the Scottish Rite

"It wasn't nearly as horrible as I'd hoped it would be."

That's pretty much the most complicated one-sentence review I've ever seen.

The lights came up, and that's what Thomas Coombs of Collingswood turned to me and said.

in the ballroom at the .

The 1978 science fiction film is a clear attempt to cash in on the success of Star Wars, and is both a) a blatant rip-off and b) gloriously, professionally, deliberately awful.

Characters fall in and out of accents, the female lead traipses around in a bikini and heels for no discernible reason, and there are all sorts of awkward pauses and terrible editing choices. It also features some terrible hair, David Hasselhoff as the romantic male lead, and Christopher Plummer in a small role in which he actively looks embarrassed to be on screen.

It would be a fun movie to grab a few beers with some friends and tear apart.

This event took that idea one step further, with a scripted lampooning of the film as read by four actors in the style of the beloved cult classic TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000. For a $20 ticket, patrons got the movie, some popcorn to snack on, an open bar, and the performance—which, all in all, was a pretty fantastic deal.

"It was awesome," said Kelli Olmstead of Haddon Heights. "The script was better than the TV show because it kept moving the whole time."

The pop-culture heavy parody mercilessly lashed into the film, with mostly raucous results. I'm going to have to have leave this at "you had to be there," but there's a lot of charm in taking a robot with an inexplicable Texas accent and adding a bunch of even more ridiculous dialogue to the mix.

The team of five writers, under the direction of CJ Kish, did an admirable job, and the audience, happily primed with a little beer and wine, was ready for a good time. I'd wager that Collingswood is ready for a more regular version of this event, in a setting that's perhaps a little more relaxed. The ballroom at the Scottish Rite is an ample size, but it presents a bit of austerity that's at odds with the goofy, irreverent charm at the core of this sort of production.

All of that said, the audience clearly was hooked on both the awful film and the timely performance.

"I was really hoping the film would be as bad as I'd heard," said Coombs, further explaining his disappointment at the lack of a truly abysmal film experience.

"This was hilarious," said Kristin Craner of Haddon Heights. "It's funny—my friends and I say stuff like this at home in front of the TV all the time."

With this successful inaugural production, there's definitely a hope for more in the future.

"That would be awesome," said Olmstead.

"If it happens again, we're here. We're coming back, and we're bringing friends."

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