Spaceballs, a hilarious lampoon of the original Star Wars Trilogy, may very well be the most beloved parody movie of all time; a masterpiece from the parody king in writer/director Mel Brooks. Appropriately, one of the 1987 film’s most famous pieces – the Darth Vader-esque helmet worn by Rick Moranis’s menacingly milquetoast villain Dark Helmet – is fetching quite a price on the online auction block.
While we never did get to see the touted sequel Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money, that, indeed, is what the original film’s legacy is currently generating for someone on the auction site Invaluable, which has listed the coveted hero version of the eponymous “Dark Helmet” worn by the now-retired Rick Moranis in 1987’s Spaceballs as the air-stealing, doll-playing, downside Schwartz-wielding film fiend. At the time of this writing, the bidding – having started at $8,000 – has been ratcheted to $9,000, still within the $12,000-capped estimate. The auction site describes the item’s condition as such:
“20 in. round by 14 in. tall cartoonish “Darth Vader”-stylized helmet constructed of heavy vacuum formed plastic component shell affixed to internal construction worker’s hard-hat liner to fit the actor. With screw-hinged movable faceplate section featuring vents, metalized shower drain mouth piece and triangular embedded tinted see-through lenses. Exhibiting only minor production wear and age. In vintage very good to fine condition.”
The comically-scaled, phallically-compensatory nature of the piece arguably renders it the most recognizable prop from the film, in which Moranis served as the antagonist and “father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate” to Bill Pullman’s Luke Skywalker/Han Solo heroic hybrid Lone Starr. Of course, within the helmet’s still-menacing exterior, was the nerdy, spectacled countenance of Moranis; a reveal that served as one of the film’s funniest moments. It was also a continual source of humor throughout the film, protecting Helmet from one comedic catastrophe after another.
In describing what it was like to work in the colossally cumbersome Dark Helmet-helmet, Moranis, in an interview with THR a few years ago, stated that, “It wasn’t uncomfortable at all — it was actually very light.” However, he may have simply been grateful that he wasn’t subjected to its originally conceived design for which, as he explained, “the whole costume was one big helmet, but it got scaled back.”
In addition to the Dark Helmet prop, Invaluable is also listing another unmistakable piece of Spaceballs memorabilia in a miniature model of Captain Lone Starr’s proverbial Millennium Falcon, the space-truckin’ Winnebago known as the Eagle 5. The detail-teeming miniature – a filming model from the movie – has been assigned an opening bid that even dwarfs size of Dark Helmet’s helmet at $20,000.
Spaceballs, which turns 30 on June 26, clearly defied the rather inauspicious atmosphere in which it was initially released. By conventional standards, the film was a box office dud, generating a paltry $38.1 million domestic gross off a $22.7 million budget, contemporaneously panned by critics and dismissed as a parody that missed the Star Wars boat by four years. However, as evidenced by these high-priced auctions, the film’s staying power superseded its initial reception and it remains a heavily-quoted staple for which fans still eagerly await a sequel of some kind.