Wednesday, July 29, 2009

GALAXY OF TERROR (1981)


Okay before anyone starts groaning. I want you to look at this film with fresh eyes. I want you to see it in your mind like I saw it originally. In a theater with no idea of what was going to appear on the screen. It was 1981 so that put me at the ripe old age of eighteen. I had already seen things like Alien and its ilk so, what was this going to offer me? Simply the trippiest, fly by the seat of your pants, sci fi horror film that has no equal.
Don't believe me?
Fine, let's start with a little list, shall we?
Edward Albert
Ray Walston
Erin Moran
Robert Englund
Zalman King
Grace Zabriskie
Roger Corman
William Stout
Bill Paxton
James Cameron

Did you see those names? Sure, some are better than the rest and Bill Paxton actually worked behind the camera for this one, but look at the list! This is epic B-Movie making at it's finest.

Let's do a quick plot rundown, shall we? Seems that a ship landed on this spooky planet and this one guy is running for his life. Yeah, he don;t make it.
We fast forward to a guy called The Master who has a glow in the dark head. Seems this planet is something that he has been searching for all his life. Now, it's time to assemble a team to get to the new planet. The Master tells them it's to try and rescue any survivors from the original mission, but we know better.

This is a team of misfits. People with sever emotional baggage that they wear proudly on their sleeves. With the aid of hyper drive they are at the planet in no time and something is using their own fears to prey upon them and start the slaughter. But what is it?
GALAXY OF TERROR deserves so much more than it gets. At a brief 81 minutes, this film flies by. There are no long scenes of exposition. Things are inferred and not spoon fed to you. This requires you to think, use your brain to figure out what is going on. Sure, some of it is obvious, but not all of it. The characters are given to us as if we already are acquainted with them. The movie takes off like a shot and never slows down until the credits roll.

Sure, Erin Moran's acting is horrible and she only seems capable of one expression throughout the film, but it is fun to watch Joanie from Happy Days get slaughtered so there's that. Edward Albert reminds us of what a great character actor he was and that we lost someone very special waaay too soon in his career. Robert Englund actually acts without mugging Freddy style for the camera. A welcome performance. The special effects team gives us a huge, mystical pyramid and a ravaged planet scape that looks so damn good. You can see where James Cameron stole some of this for ALIENS.

And then there's the giant worm rape scene. This was just bizarre. Probably one of the oddest scenes in Cinema history. Thankfully a statuesque blond covered in clear slime is pretty good to look at. It's a shame the giant worm thingie killed her when it was done.
GALAXY OF TERROR is a film worth revisiting with fresh eyes. Or to discover it for the first time as a film that rose above its budgetary restrictions and gave us something unique.

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