Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Galaxy of Terror (1981)

Long ago in a galaxy far, far away…..Roger Corman decided to make one of the more notorious sci-fi/horror films of the 80’s. I kind of remember seeing the T.V. spot for this when it came out but my memory is a bit fuzzy. I do remember the buzz surrounding it during its home video release and reading about it Fangoria magazine. By this time everyone and their grandma were releasing some kind of horror/sci-fi hybrid/Alien rip off flick. This one however actually goes a bit beyond the standard rip off storyline and presents a few interesting elements to set it apart from the other sleaze n cheese masterpieces of the time.
Galaxy of Terror opens with two mysterious figures playing some type of game. One is called “The Master” and he has a red glowing head. Obviously this guy is pretty important and his cohort is a rather hag looking woman who “interprets the signs”….whatever that means. The game is interrupted by Commander Ilvar (Bernard Behrens) who informs the master that one of their ships has crash landed on the planet Morganthus. It is decided that a handpicked crew is to investigate what has happened and rescue survivors if any.  The crew consists of several well-known actors, several who are still in the genre movie biz. The team is led by Baelon (Zalman King best known as a movie producer for such titles as 9 ½ Weeks and the series The Red Shoe Diaries) and consists of such genre greats as Robert Englund (Ranger), Sid Haig (Quuhod), Erin Moran (YES! Joanie from Happy Days)(Alluma) and Ray Walston (My Favorite Martian)(Kore). How Corman got these names on the cast is beyond me. He must have really sold the script well!

"Where's Cha Chi?"

After a harrowing take off from the base, panic inducing jump to hyper speed and a stomach dropping landing, the crew make it to the desolate planet Morganthus and thus our meat of the movie starts. The crew disembarks on a search for survivors of the crashed spaceship. After one of the crew members is killed by an insect-like alien and an autopsy performed on a corpse from the crashed spacecraft the crew sets off again onto the planet to see if they can find more survivors since several are missing. Their search brings them to a large pyramid which gives off a feeling of death and emptiness to Alluma who has psychic powers. 

"Soooo....this is the time share?"

 They enter the pyramid to investigate further and one by one each crew member meets a grisly death. The two remaining crew members Ranger and Cabren (Edward Albert) encounter Kore (Ray Walston), the ships cook and discover he is much more than what they thought. It turns out Kore is actually “The Master” and that the pyramid was actually a child’s toy that the ancients used to conquer and control their own fears. You see each crew member has died from one of their own fears. Some are obvious but several make your brain hurt trying to figure them out. Cabren then kills The Master for letting his friends die and because he learned to control his fear, becomes the new “Master”……and his head glows red. There ya have it! In a nutshell this is the movie. 

Oooey gooey luv.
A Pretty nifty storyline which sets it apart from other Alien clones of its time but what really drives this flick is the gore. There is mucho amounts of blood and nastiness to be had. Limbs are hacked, brains exposed, a body squeezed to death, an exploding head and of course the coupe de grace a nasty, gooey space maggot rape scene. Yes you read that correctly. One poor female crew member is raped by a giant space maggot because after all.....she hates worms. This one scene really put asses in the theater seats when the movie was released. It also propelled the movie to cult status and became a "must see" among genre fans.

Even Ray Walston is impressed with the sets.
Galaxy of Terror is a 70/30 split for me. On one hand you have a pretty solid storyline with a bit of a twist. The production values are actually pretty good considering the budget is low but hey it’s a Corman production and the man is a genius at squeezing blood from a rock. The set designs are the creation of James Cameron (Terminator, Aliens, Titanic, Avatar) of all people. A very early beginning in his career and he does an incredible job making the interiors believable. 

Giger eat your heart out!

The landscape of the planet is very H.R. Giger inspired which doesn’t surprise me at all being the nature of the cash in. However it is done very well. So now that I have this nice handful of goodness I now crap in the other. 

Moran does A LOT of this throughout the film.

The acting is appalling. I mean it is really bad and the dialogue is so stilted you are left gawking at the screen many times. The exceptions to this are Ray Walston, Edward Albert and Robert Englund. Walston knocks his performance out of the park which is expected. Albert and Englund carry their own very well but the others, the others should be ashamed. I figured at least Moran would have put in a good performance but she must have left her acting abilities on the set of Happy Days. Sid Haig, who is a good actor, is left hanging in the wind. He has one line…ONE LINE! “I live and die by the crystals”….thank you Sid. I think he might have fared better if he had more to say but either the writers had nothing for him, his character had a vow of silence written in the script that I missed or the dialogue was so bad he pulled a Christopher Lee and refused to utter them.  Usually the acting doesn’t bother me on low budget horror flicks, they are part of the charm, but wow it really bites on this one!

"All the acting went down the crapper....let's go find it!"

Galaxy of Terror was released on Embassy home video in the 1980’s and actually wasn’t released on DVD in the states until a few years ago. Shout Factory released the DVD in 2010 and it contains a ton of extras which really surprised me. I figured it would be a bare bones release. It features the brilliant original artwork as well. For me the poster art is worth the price of admission. I would have laid my cash down in a heartbeat in 1981….if I had been old enough to be admitted into an R rated film at the time. Lord knows Mom and Dad wouldn’t have taken me to this one! Roger Corman followed this gory space romp with another film called Forbidden World (1982). I am going to have to track this one down!

1 comment:

  1. Gotta watch out for those unexplained vows of silence...