Friday, September 8, 2017

Movie Review: Skypirates (1986) a.k.a Dakota Harris

Skypirates (1986) a.k.a Dakota Harris
John Lamond Motion Picture Enterprises, Australia, USA, 1986.

Apparently Erich von Däniken was right, and in the ancient times extraterrestrials visited Earth and constructed cool monuments. In 1886 stone tablet was found on Easter Island but it broke into three pieces. When combined, the table would give its owner unimaginable powers. And the Easter Islanders used the alien powers to erect gigantic stone heads? Seems legit to me.

In 1945 Aussie pilot Lt. Dakota Harris (John Hargreaves) gets a mission to fly a cargo plane to USA. Actually the first name Dakota comes from the German title of the movie, being a playful reference to C-47 airplane used in the movie and Indiana Jones. The cargo is important as it is disguised as whiskey shipment. And so it goes that the stone table that is hidden in the whiskey boxes gets drunk (obviously) and causes a storm in time. The time warp causes e.g. visions of modern fighter planes and flying stone heads. After the fun the plane crashes into sea killing most of the crew. 
John Hargreaves
Dakota Harris
Rev. Mitchell (Simon Chilvers) and Savage (Max Phipps)
The stranded survivors find a spooky graveyard of lost ships. The ship from the Philadelphia Experiment is there too. It is better to not stay there too long or they will get trapped in time. After spending days in lifeboat Harris, his superior Savage (Max Phipps) and  scientist Reverend Mitchell (Simon Chilvers) are saved. Somehow they are thousands of miles from where their airplane was lost. 
Savage tries to put the blame about the accident on Harris, but he daringly escapes before he is sent to jail. Reverend's daughter Melanie Mitchell (Meredith Phillips) asks Harris to find her missing dad. But a Savage killer is after her in a museum. Hey, Mel don't get trapped under a screaming mummy! Savage tries to kill Melanie dropping a hand grenade into Melanie's elevator, but luckily it only blows a hole in the floor, sending a poor cleaning lady into abyss. Can Harris save Mel before it is too late? But Melanie is not as helpless as it seems and she can be feisty when she wants to be. In bar fights he punches like a Manly Man being on par with hard-fisted Harris. In the air there is a sense of big adventure!
Meredith Phillips
Melanie Mitchell
Screaming mummy was quite random
The heroes fly around the Pacific to find missing dad and at the same time getting information about the lost stone tables. The trip is dangerous both on air and land, on air the threat comes from enemy fighters and on land there are bandits. There is also time for romance. The story climaxes on the Easter Island much like "Raiders of the Lost Ark"-lite.
Adventurer's normal day
The movie feels like a pastiche of Indiana Jones and adventure movies of Steven Spielberg, drawing inspiration from popularity of paranormal phenomena in the 1980s. Therefore it feels like pulpy B-movie version of its predecessors. Although it is not on the level of the originals, there is a fun adventure and plucky heroes, it even enjoys a small cult reputation in Germany. Random humour comes from some absurd situations. In one scene a girl pushes a fat man out of tavern. Then Harris gets information by playing Russian Roulette and quotes Dirty Harry. And in Australia there are always motorized desert gangs à la Mad Max. When Harris needs a plane, he buys it from always laughing funnyman Hayes (David Parker) for a roll of money and a bottle of beer. After a slowish start there is a lot of action in 85 minutes. It is in no means a masterpiece but weird enough 1980s adventure.
Time to go home, fatty!
Always cool Moai-statues
Music was composed by Brian May (not from Queen). As a curiosity there is also young Hugo Weaving in small role as thug.
Hugo Weaving
Hugo Weaving as Thug
But why was it called Sky Pirates? Umm, i don't know. There are airplanes but no no pirates.

Rating: Good

Starring: John Hargreaves, Meredith Phillips, Max Phipps, Bill Hunter, Simon Chilvers, Alex Scott, David Parker, Adrian Wright, Peter Cummins, Tommy Dysart, Arron Wayne Cull, Alex Menglet, Nigel Bradshaw, Chris Gregory, John Murphy, Victor Kazan, Clive Hearne, Bill Fozz, Hayes Gordon, Adam Joseph, Hugo Weaving
Director: Colin Eggleston


  1. Että oikein Dakota ja kaikki. Noh, voisi olla huonomminkin. Voisi nimittäin olla Etelä-Dakota. Miksei pohjoinenkin.


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