in Shocktober

Shocktober: Day 16

Galaxy of Terror (1981)

Were taking a trip back to Roger Corman’s film school with this one. Known as the King of B-movies, Roger Corman has directed and produced countless B-movies (good and bad) on shoestring budgets for many years and has also trained some of Hollywood’s best along the way. Everyone from Francis Ford Coppola to Martin Scorsese started out working for Corman and today’s film is no exception as features the talents of who else but Jame Cameron. Yes, James Cameron worked on Galaxy of Terror as both a production designer and second unit director, but even with all his technical prowess not even he could save this film forever lost in space.

Cameron’s clearly done his part here as the film looks great with some cheesy but amusing effects, the problem here is the story or lack thereof. I think it’s pretty clear that this film is just a ripoff of Ridley Scott’s Alien and while they did a good job of putting together some atmospheric sets they should of put more of that effort into crafting an interesting and unique story, ya know something that doesn’t suck. The cast is made up of all sorts of cult b-movie stars including; Sid Haig, Robert Englund in a rare non villain role, and Taaffe O’Connell in her career defining role as a technical officer who gets raped by a giant space worm. Additional cast includes Edward Albert (son of Eddie Albert from Green Acres) and Ray Walston (My Favorite Martian, Fast Times at Ridgemont High). All these actors and a few more makeup the members of a spaceship crew who “accidentally” crash land on the gritty planet Morganthus.

What kind of shit goes down on Morganthus? Mostly a bunch of wandering around to moody synth music. This I don’t mind too much, it does build suspense but it always seems to fizzle out when the film tries to show off it’s underwhelming alien antagonists. The poster shows some kind of Skeleton-faced dragon thing but I don’t recall anything like that in the film. I thought I might of once but for the most part you never really get a very good look at any of the alien puppets. The only ones we do get a good look at are these shitty little worm puppets that make really stupid cartoon noises. Oh yeah and some of the aliens can shape shift into various things like people and um glass, hmm. These aliens are far from the worst I’ve seen in a b-movie but when everything else looks so good it really takes me out of the movie.

So crew members get picked off one by one until we finally discover (Spoiler) that Ray Walston is this guy called “The Master” with a glowing red head and that this planet (specifically this one magic pyramid on the planet) is a training ground to test and control fear, which is totally stupid. So Edward Albert (sporting a very Burt Reynolds mustache) shoots him with lasers but then he becomes “The Master”? Wow this is so dumb, they couldn’t of just made it a straightforward sci-fi with a competent plot?

Another thing I have to address before finishing up is the “Alien Worm Rape Scene” which is perhaps the most controversial part of this movie. It’s basically exactly what it sounds like but I don’t see what makes it so taboo. I’ve definitely seen much worse on camera, in a sick twisted kind of way the scene is even humorous, has mankind just become more desensitized? As silly as all this is, it’s still probably one of the better films I saw for this list. It’s definitely (at least in my mind) one of the more forgettable Corman produced flicks but it still has a sliver of worth. This is the kind of movie you watch with all your friends at 2:00am, crack jokes, sit back, and have really dumb fun.

And here we have the memorable death of Sid Haig’s character, awesome?