A lot of bad Sci-Fi movies came out in the 80’s. After studios saw that movies like Star Wars and Alien could make a lot of money, they thought that it would be easy enough to make mediocre films that could cash in on the masses’ newfound interest in movies about galaxies far, far away. Galaxy Of Terror (1981) has to be one of those movies, except in this case, it isn’t really mediocre… No, no… It aspires to be mediocre, that’s how bad it really is.
A ship that is exploring a distant planet loses all of it’s crew by some mysterious circumstances. A being known only as “The Master” decides to handpick a crew to send to investigate and rescue any crew that is still clinging to life. The master sets “the game” in motion, and you basically forget everything they talked about until it is thrown in at the end to wrap everything up. The crew that is sent only suspects that this is a rescue mission, but as they being to each be sniped off one by one, they realize that their worst fears are coming to life.
If you were to just look at the credits, you would probably be under the impression that director Bruce D. Clark‘s Galaxy of Terror has a lot going for it. Let’s just examine the cast for a second, shall we? First off, you have Edward Albert (the son of Green Acres star Eddie Albert) playing Cabren, Erin Moran (Joanie from Jonie Loves Chachi and Happy Days) playing some sort of psychic who can sense other life forms, Ray Walston (Mr. Hand from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”) – the cook, Sid Haig (Captain Spaulding from House of 1000 Corpses) and Robert Englund, amongst several others. Believe me, I could go on about who’s in this movie, most people recognize about 80% of the main cast. James Cameron even did some second unit work on this production, so it’s not like this film is full of a bunch of has beens and never will bes… Oh, and I have to mention that Zalman King – the guy that produces all of those Red Shoe Diary soft core porn things on Showtime also acts in this one… I didn’t even know that he was a real person, I thought they just pasted his name up to make it sound like classy porn instead of just the regular smut.
Of course, after looking at those credits, and then watching the movie, you’d realize that your first impressions are totally wrong. Make no bones about it, this movie is pretty goddamned bad. It’s a total rip off of Alien, with the crew going to investigate a derelict vessel, and finding a bunch of bad shit that they really didn’t sign up for. There are way too many crew members and I had to make a flow chart so I could figure out who was who. There is no character development besides the first words that come out of their mouth. From first sight of these characters, I determined everything about them, and each played a basic Sci-Fi stereo type -the psychic, the tough guy, the leader, the nerdy tech, etc. This movie does redeem itself though because of it’s shittiness.
The set design is a mixed bag. While the interiors look like painted styrofoam and waterslides, the outside of the planet is decent and obviously inspired by H.R. Giger’s work on Alien. The monster(s) in one word – classic! Each person gets dispatched by their worst fears, or at least that’s what they tell you. One of the crew only uses these crystal throwing stars as weapons, he can’t use guns for some reason and if he picks up a gun, he cries… I’m not making this up. Well, when he dies, one of his stars breaks off in his arm and he chops off his arm. His disembodied arm then throws another huge crystal star, hitting him in the chest and killing him. I don’t know how that could be his worst fear, but whatever.
This leads us to the special effects. They’re a little touch and go too. Sometimes they’re bad, like “Wow, that looks like a rubber hose with some weird nozzle on the end of it” to “Hey, that burnt up body looks pretty decent” up to “HOLY SHIT! THAT EXPLODING HEAD LOOKED SO REAL!” (which you can coincidentally see at the end of this review) This can be experienced in one particular stretch where after the guy gets his arm cut off (see above paragraph) there are maggots crawling on it shortly thereafter. The maggots look great, they’re squirming around, looking like maggots look, doing a good maggoty job. Then, suddenly one of the maggots start growing and you lose all that maggoty goodness and just think “man… that looks really shitty” all in a matter of minutes!
I have to mention this next part and there’s really no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to lay it on the table… A woman gets raped by a giant maggot in this movie.
That’s right… let me say it again. A woman gets raped by a giant maggot… in this movie. What the fuck? I have to admit that this scene alone boosted my rating by 2 stars. I don’t know if that makes me a sick fuck or not, but it’s not every day you get to see that in a film! Plus, the chick that it happens to has nice cans so you don’t feel so bad about seeing her naked. I mean at first you can tell she’s really not happy about it, but by the time it’s over and right before she dies she kinda likes it, so that’s redeeming, right?
One other thing I have to mention is about the fucking backpacks they lug around in the entire movie. All the crew members have these packs that they carry around when they leave the ship. They never open the packs, they don’t need them to breathe because the atmosphere on the planet can sustain them, and they provide no life support whatsoever. This would lead me to believe that they use the packs as a light source, since it has two shoulder mounted lights. The only problem with that theory is that when the lights are on, they don’t work further than 6 inches away. There’s one scene where one of the crew is being attacked by something, and it’s literally right in front of his face, but he can’t see it even though the lights are on. Basically they’re carrying around these heavy packs for nothing, it would seem.
The thing about this movie is that it’s truly so bad that it’s good. I’m was really torn on giving this a good rating or a bad one, it’s one of those films. As you can see above, I gave it a good rating, but honestly it could really go in a totally different direction. Believe me when you read these next few words: this is a movie that you MUST see. Do whatever it takes, but be sure to get drunk or high or whatever before you see it because it will make it that much better!
You should SERIOUSLY click the link below and check out some more pics and an awesome clip from GALAXY OF TERROR!