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“Invitation to Dance - It’s a Dance. And sometimes they turn the lights off in this ballroom. But we’ll dance anyway, you and I. Even in the Dark. Especially in the Dark. May I have the pleasure?” --- Stephen King ::::::::::: MY CRITERIA FOR DISCUSSION ENCOMPASSES THE HORROR GENRE AND BEYOND, SO I USE THE TERM "NIGHTMARE MOVIES". SPOILERS CAN OCCUR WITH OR WITHOUT WARNING. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Galaxy of Terror

December 9th 2010 22:50
Galaxy of Terror movie poster
The legendary producer Roger Corman had already made over 130 low-budget movies by the time he produced Galaxy of Terror (1981). The Alien (1979) and Forbidden Planet (1956) rip-off was no different, just another low-budget exploitation affair that used dodgy looking sets and bad actors, although Galaxy of Terror was a little different in that it sported a more elaborate production design and special effects than usual, and featured a young James Cameron as 2nd Unit director and co-production designer, as well as several familiar faces in the cast. It’s pure schlock-horror, but Galaxy of Terror possesses a certain je ne sais quoi.
Galaxy of Terror Edward Albert
Edward Albert as Cabren
Far in the future a hastily-assembled crew about the spaceship Quest heads into deep space on a rescue mission, dispatched to the dark, barren world of Morganthus by The Master. The spaceship Rebus lies stricken on the planet's desolate surface, pinned there by a powerful force-field which the crew discover is emanating from a vast alien pyramid. Strange and menacing things begin to occur. The rescue team finds the remains of the previous crew and is inexorably drawn toward, up and into the massive ancient monolithic structure. Their numbers begin to dwindle, as one by one they fall prey to nightmarish deaths. The survivors eventually succumb to the fulfillment of their destiny, and the awesome secret of the pyramid.
Galaxy of Terror Erin Moran
Erin Moran as Alluma
Originally titled MindWarp: An Infinity of Terror, a truly schlocky title if ever there was one, then Corman re-titled it Planet of Horrors (the best title), until finally, Galaxy of Terror (misleading, since the action takes place on a planet, not in space, and although fears are addressed, the movie deals more with visceral horror than anything else). Galaxy of Terror was Corman attempting to capitalize on the success (in fact his movies nearly always made a profit) of Battle Beyond the Stars, released the year before and one of his most expensive productions at $US2m. Galaxy of Terror apparently cost $700k (and more than likely would have re-couped all its costs fairly swiftly, despite the lambasting it got from critics).
Galaxy of Terror Robert Englund
Robert Englund as Ranger
Galaxy of Terror Grace Zabriskie
Grace Zabriskie as Trantor
Although Alien is itself a throwback to the 50s sci-fi monster movies, Galaxy of Terror borrows liberally from its premise and design; essentially a small motley crew responding to a distress call, landing on a dark, barren planet, a spy in their midst, trekking across the surface to a giant pyramid (which was in Alien’s original screenplay, but was dropped by Ridley Scott as too expensive to shoot), and being terrorised by alien creatures. Despite these comparisons, Galaxy of Terror is ultimately more like the UK production Inseminoid (1981), another low-budget sci-fi alien beastie shocker. Both movies feature an exploitative rape scene; in Inseminoid its rape by alien beastie, in Galaxy of Terror its rape by giant maggot (!)
Galaxy of Terror Robert Englund, Zalmon King, Edward Albert, Ray Walston, Erin Moran
Ranger, Baelon (Zalmon King), Cabren, Kore (Ray Walston) and Alluma on board the Quest
Galaxy of Terror Sid Haig
Sid Haig as Quuhod
The silly screenplay, by Marc Siegler and the director Bruce Clark (credited as B.D. Clark), has its characters quibbling with each other as they battle ferocious nasties, traverse weird architecture and landscape, and deal with probing psychological torment. The ending is a metaphysical loop which refers the audience back to its obscure opening scene featuring The Master. But enough with the intellectualising! Galaxy of Terror is deep trash floating amidst the cosmic debris.
Galaxy of Terror Jack Blessing
Jack Blessing as Cor
Because it takes place in the distant future the characters all have futuristic-ancient names (as you do); Cabren (Edward Albert), Alluma (Erin Moran, Joanie from Happy Days), Kore (Ray Waltson, from My Favourite Martian), Ilvar (Bernard Behrens), Baelon (Zalman King, director of Nine-and-a-half Weeks and Wild Orchid), Ranger (Robert Englund a.k.a. Freddy Krueger), Dameia (Taaffe O’Connell), Quuhod (Rob Zombie regular Sid Haig), Trantor (Grace Zabriskie), and Cor (Jack Blessing). Much of the dialogue will spark gaffaws; “I live and die by the crystals” (Quuhod’s only line), “I”d rather dance on top of this thing than squeeze on through it!” (Alluma’s dislike of the pyramid), and this doozy: “Aren’t you afraid?” “I’m too scared to be!”
Galaxy of Terror pyramid
The Quest crew discover the giant pyramid across a divide
Galaxy of Terror The Master
The Master's identity is maintained a secret (although his voice is a dead giveaway) until the end
Yes, the acting is uniformly terrible, but the dialogue does them no favours. With the cardboard, paper mache, and polysterene sets (the interior of the Quest used McDonald’s take-out cartons) the movie begins to look an episode of Doctor Who, especially once they edge along the narrow bridge inside the pyramid. Earlier inside the Quest characters appear to run along the same small stretch of corridor time and time again. No doubt it was only one set that doubled for endless lengths of corridor. The actor Bill Paxton began his movie career as a set dresser on Galaxy of Terror. No doubt he struck up a friendship with James Cameron. Word has it that director Bruce Clark was incompetent and thus Cameron directed a lot of the movie himself, although remains only credited with handling the 2nd unit. Cameron impressed producers with a sequence where he managed to keep a bunch of maggots crawling over a severed prosthetic arm by running an electric current through the prop. This special effects ingenuity lead to Cameron being given the director’s chair on Piranha II: Flying Killers (1981), and the rest is history …
Galaxy of Terror nightmare beast
One of the pyramid's nightmare beasts
Galaxy of Terror horror face
One of the Quest crew loses face
Galaxy of Terror is like a spectacular star, er, car crash; you just can’t help but keep watching. It’s so awful, yet it manages to mesmerise, in a very cheap, but effective fashion. Part of the cult appeal is the mélange of actors on screen, some who would go on to much bigger things, others that would slide into total obscurity, and others that lingered on the sidelines, capable of better work, but never actually rising to the occasion. And then there’s that notorious rape scene with that hideously huge slimy maggot, which has to be seen to be believed (poor Taaffe, apparently she was nearly crushed by the one tonne mechanical prop!)
Galaxy of Terror Taaffe O'Connell
Dameia (Taaffe O'Connell) is mortally violated by a giant maggot
In all honesty, the best thing about Galaxy of Terror is its fantastic poster art, even though the illustration depicts a scene completely invented for the poster. But still, with the movie having recently been released on DVD and Blu-ray (I only got to view a grainy and cropped old VHS copy), it would make for an entertaining end to the weekend, and no doubt an amusing conversation piece at the water cooler the next day.

Here’s the teaser trailer:

“Crash into fear!” And here’s the trailer when it was originally titled MindWarp:


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7 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by RocketJSquirrel

December 10th 2010 22:52
I should really get hunting for this one. I do enjoy many a Roger Corman flick... but more than that, I'm sure I've seen this one, just it's one of those movies that's haunted my early adult life trying to find some way to figure out what it was, with only flashes of certain scenes to go by.

Here's to you, Bryn, for putting to rest one of those things that just bugged me for years.

Comment by nightlydvdreview

December 11th 2010 04:05
Great site. Love what you've done with it. Loved that movie as a kid.

Comment by nighly-dvd-review

December 11th 2010 04:07
Really like your site. Did a good job on it. Enjoyed several of those movies here.

Comment by somnus

December 12th 2010 05:52
Schlocky scifi/horror & a cotroversial Maggot Rape!!! My. . . My. . . My, Bryn, that's just horrible!!! IF you see a guy in the checkout line with this movie- IT"S NOT ME- I SWEAR- i have standards you know.

Much Obliged

Comment by Bryn

December 13th 2010 00:21
Cheers guys! Great comments!

Comment by Matt Shea

December 13th 2010 09:46
Ah Bryn. The lengths you go to to keep us entertained. This looks fantastic, in an absolutely terrible way.

Released on Blu-ray you say? I'm there!

Comment by Bryn

December 13th 2010 21:57
Matt, I try my best! You'll have a hoot-and-a-half with this one, grab a mate, some beers, etc. And yes, on Blu-ray as part of the Corman Cult Classics releases.

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