Awfully Good: Galaxy of Terror
Galaxy of Terror (1981)
Director: Bruce D. Clark
Stars: Edward Albert, Robert Englund, Sid Haig
Is there a plot?
A rescue crew sent to investigate a crashed spaceship on an alien planet soon discovers that they're being attacked by their own biggest fears. Apparently they're all afraid of tentacles.
What's the damage?
Though not a hit commercially or critically, GALAXY OF TERROR is fondly remembered for its impressive pedigree behind and in front of the camera. B-movie legend Roger Corman (recently seen in SyFy channel stuff SHARKTOPUS and DINOSHARK) was tasked with
ripping off capitalizing on the success of Ridley Scott's ALIEN. While the result is nowhere near the realm of that sci-fi classic, GALAXY OF TERROR did ironically launch the careers of two people who would be responsible for its sequel—James Cameron and Bill Paxton. Cameron worked as a production designer and second unit director, hiring the young "Game over, man!" thespian as his set dresser. The film also features a young, still creepy Robert Englund, future softcore porn czar Zalman King, "Happy Days" star and object of Scott Baio's affection Erin Moran, and Rob Zombie regular Sid Haig as a mute named Quhaad who uses crystal throwing stars as his weapon of choice. (Predictably, this later comes to bite him in the ass.
A Robert Englund remake of THE PARENT TRAP? Yes, please!
Okay, enough with the history lesson—how's the movie? Well, GALAXY OF TERROR is also famous for its most memorable and controversial scene, where Taffe O'Conell's character Dameia is graphically raped to death by a giant space worm. That's right, I said "raped," not "attacked." In a sequence that surely warmed the hearts and pants of Japanese men everywhere, Dameia's fear of worms manifests itself in the worst way possible—a giant horny tentacled monster. I'm honestly not even sure how the sheer mechanics of it works, in terms of compatible sexual organs, bodily fluids or mating styles; all I know is the thing manages to rip off her clothes and go to town, at least judging by all the disturbing squishy sound effects. (Allegedly the original cut of the film alluded to the fact that Dameia actually enjoyed the encounter, but any evidence of that has been excised from the final cut. Sorry, pervs.)
J. Walter Weatherman teaches a lesson about always being careful with throwing stars.
For what it is, GALAXY OF TERROR otherwise really isn't that bad. Its low budget and 80s-style cheese helps it fit in this column, but its production design and special effects, though obviously cheap, are actually well-executed. In terms of serious science fiction, however, the movie is fairly horrible. The story is a lame retread of plenty of stories that came before it and the ideas and concepts are frustratingly vague and don't make much sense. (How come nobody wears a helmet or needs oxygen outside on an alien planet? And why doesn't the team ever listen to their psychic soldier when she warns of danger?) Some of it unfortunately reminded me of ZARDOS, with inexplicable philosophical weirdness, talk of Planet Masters and Games Masters, and some guy whose head glows red for no reason.
"At least we're big in Japan!"
[SPOILERS] In the end, the hero (by default, as he's the only one left alive), a guy that looks like Peter Gallagher mixed with Tom Skerrit (another ALIEN homage!), meets The Master (glowy red dude), who admits that the alien pyramid/planet that killed everyone is actually a "toy" that was used by a dead extraterrestrial race to test their fears. That means that all the innocent people were murdered by their own living nightmares as part of a game in order to teach them they have nothing to fear but fear itself. Even FDR wouldn't stand for that.
Not many know Freddy Krueger's only weakness: cuddling.
He got the second part right, at least.
1) The famous worm rape scene. (NSFW)
2) Three of the best alien attacks.
3) Before there was Freddy vs. Jason, there was…Robert Englund vs. Robert Englund?
Poor Taaffe O'Connell gives it her all, but it's not a pretty sight.
Play Along at Home!
Take a shot or drink every time:
- Sid Haig throws a crystal
- A tentacle attacks
- Someone jumps kung-fu style
Double shot if:
- Sid Haig speaks
Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email and give him an excuse to drink.