Release Date: March 25th, 1964
Directed by: Will Zens
Written by: Will Zens
Music by: Stephen Paul
Cast: Robert Dornan, Richard Jordahl, Richard Masters
Will Zens Productions, Robert Patrick Productions, Riviera Productions, Pride Releasing Organization, 78 Minutes, 84 Minutes (original cut)
“Listen, I just got back from the Victorville Chamber of Commerce meeting, where I gave them my anti-communist speech… and I’m still fighting mad!” – Colonel Hunt
The Starfighters is considered to be one of the worst films ever made. Luckily, the only version of it that I have seen is the one that features riffing from the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I can’t imagine watching this without the added hilarity.
The problem with this film is that it seems like it was a propaganda recruiting movie made by the United States Air Force and then passed off as a legit picture. As far as I know, it wasn’t made by the USAF but I think that the only place that the movie might have been accepted was on Air Force bases in the mid-’60s.
That being said, this did not get a first run theatrical release because of its awfulness. It did make the drive-in circuit and probably got thrown into some budget theaters but this was really a lost film before it even saw the light of day.
I think that it is only remembered because it was lampooned on MST3K. And while a few hundred films can say the same thing, this picture did provide us with one of the best MST3K episodes of all-time, simply because a lot of the jokes became long running gags that were used in future episodes.
As far as the film itself goes, this is a boring dud full of wooden acting, wooden dialogue and what I can only assume was a director asleep at the wheel.
The story is about some pilots being trained on how to fly the high tech, futuristic Lockeed F-104 Starfighter jet. However, the movie puts more emphasis on mid-air refueling than it does on seeing the jets do anything remotely cool.
However, when we do see cool stuff, it’s pretty much stock footage material. But that’s actually the only neat thing about this movie.
A lot of this military footage is cool to see, especially years later, as the technology featured is outdated by half a century. I guess you’ll probably only find this interesting if you have a love of documentary style historical military movies. Seeing the refueling stuff was kind of fascinating but obviously, it doesn’t salvage the picture in any way.
I guess the weirdest thing about this film is the score. During the refueling scenes we are treated to very out of place, upbeat jazz music. It’s pretty strange but reference to it on MST3K led to one of the best in-jokes in the Mike Nelson era of the show.
This film is a total crapfest. I can’t recommend it but if you feel like you need to check it out, just watch the MST3K version.
Pairs well with: other MST3K fodder from the early Mike Nelson era.