That Time A '70s Cult Scifi Movie Got An Oscar (For A Different Movie)

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The movie Starcrash, is remembered mostly as a lesson in how not to do space opera. What most people don't remember it as is Oscar-winning. But it was. Except, the award was given seven years after its release and was issued in the name of a different movie. How did it happen? Here's the story.

In response to this post on unintentionally-delightful movie scenes, commenter lightninglouie shared this story with us about how some of John Barry's 1985 Oscar-winning score for Out of Africa, actually appeared seven years earlier (to considerably less critical fanfare) in the 1978 B-movie, Starcrash:


Fun fact: The score for Star Crash was by the great John Barry, who also composed the James Bond theme. Barry was hired under the impression that Star Crash was a big-budget epic, and not a Z-grade cheapie. Years later he would recycle the "love theme" from Star Crash, heard playing in this clip, as the main theme for Out of Africa, for which he would win an Academy Award. It's against Academy rules to nominate film scores that incorporate older material, but I guess he figured nobody would remember a seven-year-old Italian sci-fi flick. And he was right! (Jonny Greenwood was not so lucky.)

(Skip ahead to 1:45 and it's like Christopher Plummer is right there in the veldt!)

David Alexander McDonald

John Barry was one of those composers who tended to go back to certain themes and tones all the time — you can hear chunks of his Thunderball score in Midnight Cowboy, for example. James Horner, though, may be the master of recycling.


All Khan, all the time.

David Alexander McDonald

Yep. When I first saw ST II: The Wrath Of Khaaaaaaaaan! I was amazed — he basically took his score for Battle Beyond The Stars and had it orchestrated for a slightly larger orchestra. Oh, sure, some of the cues are a little different, but, hey, editing.

Danny Elfman's been recycling Batman since 1989, and it's always a shock to hear something from him that happens to be free of references.

And how many scores has Hans Zimmer used that bass drone and the orchestral pads in now?


Do you have a favorite example of a recycled bit — whether musical or otherwise — that got more recognition the second (or third, or...) time it appeared on film? Tell us about it in the comments now.