13 Star Trek Stars' Most Embarassing Horror Movies
Article By: Tony Timpone
On Saturday, March 22, Star Trek superstar William Shatner celebrates his 83rd birthday and his 60th year in show business. The guy remains an unescapable media presence; from Priceline’s indefatigable pitchman to raunchy repartee on Howard Stern to TV show appearances and even occasional movie work, Shatner’s the hardest working octogenarian in Hollywood. But things weren’t always so rosy for the Montreal-born performer. Following Captain James T. Kirk’s premature pink slip in 1969 and a messy divorce, Shatner admits he’d take any job—even cutting the ribbon at supermarket openings—to prevent sleeping in his car.
Today, in honor of big Bill’s natal day, Chiller takes a look at some of the less-than-stellar work of Shatner, his co-stars and those who followed in his Star Trek footprints.
1. William Shatner (Star Trek)
During a chance meeting at a Miami airport, a desperate Shatner let schlock director William (Death Curse of Tartu) Grefe talk him into starring in Impulse as a leisure-suit-wearing gigolo who murders rich ladies and ogles underage girls. Years later, an embarrassed Shatner confessed that he only made Impulse (and other drive-in stinkers like The Devil’s Rain and Big Bad Mama) to pay the bills. But that doesn’t explain 2002’s dreadful American Psycho II: All American Girl, where he played a serial killer expert stalked by the title lunatic (Mila Kunis!).
2. Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek)
A 21-year-old Leonard Nimoy first earned his acting stripes playing a Martian in the hopelessly inane 1952 Republic serial Zombies of the Stratosphere (a.k.a. Satan’s Satellites). Wearing bizarre makeup (including pre-Spock raised eyebrows) and sporting the Vulcan-like name Narab, Nimoy eventually saves Earth during the cliffhanger’s finale and prevents dastardly aliens from knocking Earth off its orbit and replacing it with Mars. Two years later, Nimoy played a soldier in the gi-ant classic Them.
3. DeForest Kelley (Star Trek)
Make no “Bones” about it, everyone whoever worked with the late Deforest Kelley always described the actor as a class act. His one career misstep occurred in 1972 when the good doctor (“McCoy”) took part in the ridiculous Night of the Lepus, undoubtedly the worst movie ever made about colossal killer rabbits rampaging across the Arizona dessert. Real-life animal lover Kelley plays a local school administrator flummoxed by the beastly bunnies, which multiply quicker than the more docile Tribbles.
4. James Doohan & George Takei (Star Trek)
Another nature amok movie about big mutant critters, 1998’s inept Bug Buster managed to corral Oscar nominee/current scofflaw Randy Quaid, that friendly doctor from Love Boat, star-to-be Katherine Heigl (!) and two—yes two!—Star Trek veterans. In this jumbo cockroach movie, James (“Scotty”) Doohan plays the land-grabbing town sheriff, while George (“Sulu”) Takei dons spectacles to make a spectacle of himself as a goofy scientist who gets eaten by one of the supersized roaches. “Oh, my!”
5. Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek) & LeVar Burton (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Another twofer! In The Supernaturals, a low-budget zombie stiff released in 1986 before the walking dead became the coolest thing since slice bread, Nichelle (“Uhura”) Nichols stars as a tough-as-nails drill sergeant in charge of a group of green recruits. While on a backwoods training exercise, the platoon experiences some true “southern discomfort” when a unit of Confederate soldiers rises from their unmarked graves. The ghouls seek to exact revenge on the Yankees for a Civil War atrocity, and before long, the old sore losers gain the upper hand on the inexperienced soldiers. A mustachioed Levar (“Geordi La Forge”) Burton co-stars as one of the unlucky combat boys. What ultimately sinks The Supernaturals is its deadly pace; the movie moves slower than a quadriplegic zombie. Watch for the Maurice Gibb cameo!
6. Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Two years before he took the bridge of the Enterprise as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Patrick Stewart experienced a case of star dreck in the chaotic sci-fi horror flick Lifeforce. When a trio of space vampires invades London, government officials take one of the suspected aliens to the asylum run by Stewart’s Dr. Armstrong. But within minutes, Armstrong becomes possessed by the spirit of nubile space babe Mathilda May, begins talking like her, then freaks out and man-kisses manic astronaut Steve Railsback! Despite the rampant silliness around him, Shakespearean thespian Stewart took his Lifeforce gig seriously, an otherworldly experience that may have prepared him for the outer space adventures to come.
7. Denise Crosby (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Unhappy with the size of her role on Next Generation, actress Denise Crosby asked the show’s scribes to write her character off the series during the first season. So Crosby’s Lieutenant Tasha Yar unceremoniously gets killed in the unmemorable “Skin of Evil” episode by an extraterrestrial oil slick. But graduating to movies like 1991’s Dolly Dearest did Crosby’s career no favors either. In this rip-off of the Child’s Play movies, Crosby plays Mom to a little girl whose doll (a distaff Chucky) goes on a killing spree. Crosby catches on quickly that there’s trouble in toyland, and she really goes off her rocker when she sees a rocking chair rocking all by itself. Things really take a turn for the worse when the “Sanzia Devil Child” spirit also possesses Crosby’s daughter. Similarly, the actress must have been possessed to accept roles like this one.
8. Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Prior to venturing Stateside, London-born Marina (“Deanna Troi”) Sirtis turned up as revenge fodder in the abysmal Death Wish 3 (not a horror film, but certainly horrible!). As neighborhood Chiquita Maria, Sirtis sports a Jennifer Beals hairdo (and someone else’s dubbed voice) and pals around with tired vigilante Charles Bronson in a crime-riddled rotten Big Apple (played unconvincingly by a London suburb). After being attacked, gang raped and left for dead by vicious street punks (including Alex Winter of the Bill & Ted films!), Bronson reloads for another round of street justice. Two years later, Sirtis won career justice by moving to LA and winning her Star Trek audition.
9. Nana Visitor (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
In her assorted roles, Nana Visitor (DS9’s Major Kira Nerys) has experienced both sides of the Brooklyn real estate boom! In 1977’s The Sentinel, the young actress (billed as Nana Tucker) appears alongside newcomer Tom Berenger as a couple hunting for new digs in pricey hell-hiding Brooklyn Heights. Decades later, in 2011’s run-of-the-mill The Resident, Visitor plays a real estate agent who rents out an apartment harboring a psycho to poor Hilary Swank. The actress also lost her head (literally) as Mama Voorhees in the recent Friday the 13th remake and appeared as another mother in the terrorized teen picture Babysitter Wanted.
10. Terry Farrell (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
The creators of Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth made the unwise decision to pull the demonic Cenobites out of hell and plop them down in the streets of North Carolina (?) for a round of slasher-style bloodletting. Pinhead’s unlikely human nemesis appears in the form of a hotshot news reporter portrayed by Deep Space Nine’s Terry (“Jadzia Dax”) Farrell, here saddled with the awkward name of Joanne “Joey” Summerskill. Résumé-wise, Farrell fared much better mixing it up with Star Trek’s crafty Cardassians and Becker’s horny Ted Danson than Hellraiser III’s goofy looking CD-Head and Barbie Cenobites.
11. Ethan Phillips (Star Trek: Voyager)
Uncle Sam wants to build the ultimate human weapons by cloning the world’s greatest mass murderers in Dahmer vs. Gacy, a no budget movie with no taste. With the titular notorious maniacs on the loose again, the only one who can stop them is super-serial killer X-13 (Ethan Phillips, Voyager’s cockatoo-headed Neelix). Phillips survived this cheapie stint (which fortunately doesn’t take itself too seriously) to currently star alongside Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston in Broadway’s All the Way.
12. Jolene Blalock (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Enterprise fans might not mind seeing sexy Joleen Blalock (the series’ token Vulcan T’Pol) running around in underwear for 90 minutes, but all others will be bored stiff by the 2007 sci-fi horror hodgepodge Shadow Puppets. Blalock and seven other briefs-only strangers (including Worf’s brother Tony Todd and Buffy/Angel’s James Marsters) wake up in a mysterious prison with no memories and people-eating shadows lurking around the corners. But if the shadows don’t kill you, the movie’s endless talk will. Summing up Shadow Puppets’ confused storyline, Blalock’s T’Pol just might say, “Illogical.”
13. Chris Pine (Star Trek)
Not even the cast of Star Trek’s much-ballyhooed big-screen reboot could escape those early dues-paying assignments. Prior to taking over as Captain Kirk in the 2009 Star Trek prequel, Chris Pine toplined the little-seen sci-fi thriller Carriers. The movie follows four friends traveling a postapocalyptic western landscape after some kind of pandemic has wiped out most of the world’s civilization and society has broken down. Alpha male Pine tries to keep order among the group and prevent infection, while the tedious movie rolls along like the dry tumbleweeds we see on the roadside. Carriers’ setup resembles a zombie movie, except somebody forgot to invite the zombies.
Space might be the final frontier, but for the cast of the various Star Trek variations, work goes on. Set your phasers on stun and trek on over to our Facebook page or go on Twitter using #Friday13 to let us know whether we hit warp drive with our latest edition of the Friday 13.
FANGORIA editor emeritus Tony Timpone hosted New York City screenings of the films The Bag Man, Almost Human and The Raid 2.