Thursday, August 12, 2010

One A Week Reviews #36: Galaxy of Terror

Now THIS is a movie that starts out quick and dirty. A sci-fi mash-up of Battlestar Galactica, Forbidden Planet, and Alien, (and evidently a heavy influence on Event Horizon) Galaxy of Terror hits the ground running with a deadly prologue that rolls right into the launch of a mission to a strange planet. I assume it's ostensibly to check out what happened to the people who died in the prologue but frankly there's so little plot development you'll be damned if you can follow what's going on. It doesn't matter though. Our dispatched B-movie crew does some of the fastest space travel ever put to film before starting to drop like flies while facing a monster of the id channeling their nightmares. Not only will they die, they'll go mad while they do it.

I think Event Horizon lifted a lot from this film, and I'm gonna have to watch it again to compare. I do mean "drop like flies," too. I don't think I caught more than 2 character names through the whole she-bang. Character development? No thanks.

This is a Roger Corman quickie and it wrings fairly high production values out of a tiny budget. Deliciously good lighting, sometimes reminiscent of Italian grind-house fare (one shot of a slime-covered lass really reminds me of Lucio Fulci), and surprisingly good matte and miniature effects, it looks better than it has any right to. The cast features some real B-movie stalwarts, and they're all pros. Edward Albert and Erin Moran (as the Universe's least-empathetic psychic) get top billing, but you'll find Grace Zabriskie (playing what seems to be her current age), Ray Walston, Robert Englund, a slient-but-deadly Sid Haig (seriously, he makes frequent faces that look like he's passing serious gas), future soft-core porn auteur (and terrible actor) Zalman King, and Taaffe O'Connell, in an evidently notorious rape-by-giant-maggot-with-LOTS-of-goop scene. I say "evidently" because this is just now hitting DVD and has been out of print on VHS for years.  This one is also known for having pre-fame James Cameron and Bill Paxton working behind the scenes on effects. Beisdes the lighting and matte paintings, there are some great puppet creatures, terrific backpacks that seem to be made of car headlights, and supposedly old styrofoam clam-shell boxes for burgers lining the spaceship walls. One shot has some of the most seamless split-screen I've ever seen in a movie.

A neglected, VERY nasty 1981 Sci-Fi trash classic, and definitely worth a watch. Don't wait - go buy it, now, lovers of sci-fi sleaze!

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