Galaxy of Terror

  • Reviewed by: Dr Adam Jahnke
  • Review Date: Aug 04, 2010
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
  • Bookmark and Share

Director

Bruce D. Clark

Release Date(s)

1981 (July 20, 2010)

Studio(s)

New World (Shout! Factory)

Review

Very often, low-budget B-movies will stick in your memory long after their expected shelf date has expired simply on the strength of one sequence.  You might not remember anything else about the picture or even its title.  But there’s that one bit you’ll never forget, the thing you’d never seen before and haven’t seen since, the moment you couldn’t have possibly seen coming in a million years.  Galaxy of Terror is one such movie.  Yes friends and neighbors, this is the movie where the chick gets raped to death by the giant maggot.  And now, thanks to Shout! Factory’s ongoing line of Roger Corman’s Cult Classics, it has arrived on DVD and Blu-ray for the very first time.

Following the success of Battle Beyond the Stars, Corman’s 1980 Star Wars rip-off, the producer looked around for another sci-fi hit to emulate.  He hired director Bruce D. Clark and screenwriter Marc Siegler to come up with an Alien-inspired project with a psychological twist.  This time, the monsters would come from the victims’ own subconscious fears.  Another talented newcomer on Corman’s payroll named James Cameron was put in charge of production design and second unit direction.  A few years later, Cameron would replicate some of his work on this picture in Aliens, the sequel to the movie he was currently mimicking.  No, seriously... watch Galaxy of Terror and Aliens back-to-back and you’ll see some remarkable similarities.

Even by Corman standards, the cast of Galaxy of Terror is an amazing hodge-podge of familiar and soon-to-be familiar faces.  Topping the credits list are Edward Albert (a Golden Globe winner for Butterflies Are Free), Erin Moran from Happy Days, and Hollywood veteran Ray Waltson.  They’re joined by future Red Shoe Diaries producer Zalman King, Sid Haig (already a cult icon thanks to his numerous appearances in exploitation flicks throughout the 70s), David Lynch favorite Grace Zabriskie and Robert Englund, still a few years away from V, much less taking up residence on Elm Street.

So with this much talent on board, why is it that the one thing everyone remembers about Galaxy of Terror is the big maggot rape scene?  Well for one thing, interspecies sexual assault does tend to upstage everything else.  For another, the movie has been extremely difficult to see over the last couple decades.  Revisiting it today, it’s impressive how well Galaxy holds up.  The movie looks terrific.  Actually, if you take the miniscule budget into consideration, it looks downright amazing.  There were some very creative people on this set and Corman got more than his money’s worth out of them.  The story itself doesn’t make a whole lot of sense... if you can make it through the entire 80 minutes without saying, “Wait, what?” you’re a better man than I... but the atmosphere, effects and creatures more than compensate.

I continue to be impressed by Shout! Factory’s efforts with the Corman line.  I had no idea what to expect from this movie in high-def but it looks really, really good.  It looks like you’re watching a pristine 35 mm film print, which is exactly how it should be.  The audio is less effective, with dialogue occasionally getting lost or muddied in the mix.  As for extras, the disc is packed with ‘em.  There’s an engaging hour-long documentary (divided into six featurettes), called Tales from the Lumber Yard featuring all-new interviews with Corman, Marc Siegler, Bruce D. Clark, Robert Englund, Sid Haig, Grace Zabriskie and many, many others.  It’s candid, informative, funny and full of fantastic anecdotes.  Audio commentary duties are handled by actress Taaffe O’Connell (the ill-fated object of the giant maggot’s advances), makeup effects artists Alec Gillis and Allan Apone, and David DeCoteau, now a prolific low-budget filmmaker in his own right but then just starting out as a production assistant.  It’s a solid track with virtually no pauses, thanks in part to DeCoteau acting as moderator.  The disc also includes a trivia track, photo galleries with dozens of posters, sketches and designs, trailers for this and other Corman flicks, the screenplay in PDF format, and a 12-page booklet with an excellent essay/appreciation by former Rue Morgue editor-in-chief Jovanka Vuckovic.  The disc even comes with reversible artwork, so if you originally saw the movie under the title Mindwarp: An Infinity of Terror, you can simply flip the sleeve and keep your memories intact.

After so many years in limbo, it’s a pleasure to welcome Galaxy of Terror back into circulation.  Sure, the movie has some problems but it’s got an energetic, go-for-broke aura to it that simply can’t be faked.  This is a movie made by a smart, talented crew eager to show what they were capable of doing.  That’s the Roger Corman spirit through and through and this disc captures every slimy, blood-covered second of it.

- Dr. Adam Jahnke

 

Important Information

Bits Latest Tweets

Jahnke's Latest Tweets

Adam Jahnke

In 50 years or so, the @Criterion edition of The Interview will make a nice bookend with The Great Dictator.

by Adam Jahnke