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Galaxy of Terror

AKA: Mindwarp: An Infinity of Terror, Planet of Horrors, Quest

Director: 
Bruce D. Clark

Writers:
Marc Siegler, Bruce D. Clark, William Stout

Cast:
Edward Albert – Cabren
Erin Moran – Alluma
Ray Walston – Kore
Bernard Behrens – Commander Ilvar
Zalman King – Baelon
Robert Englund – Ranger
Taaffe O’Connell – Dameia

Country: USA

Language: English

Release Date: October 1981 (USA)

Ratings:
USA: R
Australia: M
France: 16
Iceland: (Banned)
UK: 18
West Germany: 16
Flickchart Global Ranking: 9655
IMDb: 4.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 36% (Rotten)
Netflix: 2.7/5

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Standing: Zalman King. L-R: Robert Englund, Edward Albert, Ray Walston, Erin Moran.

Ah yes, this time I get to sink my critical teeth into a movie from the vast oeuvre of Roger Corman. Corman – from his days at American International Pictures and then his own studio, New World Pictures – has the reputation of a schlockmeister, but a dearly beloved one. He turned out movies on the cheap, exploited current trends (bikers, psychedelia, sci-fi, and horror), and aimed them at the eyeballs of teens. Perhaps most importantly, he hired talented people at bargain basement prices and gave them their first shot at Hollywood.

In 1979, a little movie called Alien arrived on the heels of Star Wars and scared the poop out of us. Instead of the bright shiny Star Wars universe where good conquers evil and there is a benevolent Force to guide you, Alien offered a darker vision where you were alone in a cold universe with a perfectly evil organism, and no one can hear you scream. Corman and his merry band quickly retooled their factory and switched from ripping off Star Wars and came out with two Alien ripoffs in the early 80s.

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The good news (or bad, depending on whether you like to read bad reviews) is that, as Corman movies go, Galaxy of Terror is actually pretty good. It’s better than Corman’s other Alien ripoff, Forbidden World, and it’s way better than some of those gad awful biker movies he made in the 60s.

From the first frame you can tell you’re watching an Alien ripoff, or let’s be generous and call it an homage. Over the opening credits we see what appears to be a graveyard of abandoned spaceships, apparently all of them sent on the same doomed mission to this planet. We then cut to the inside of one of the ships where we briefly see the crew meeting their bloody end.

Then we’re off to the planet where this ship apparently came from. It’s a weird planet run by a “Master” whose face we never see because his head glows too much [insert bald joke here]. The Master plays games apparently but also sends out rescue crews into space, he immediately dispatches a crew to the planet, which is called Morganthus.

The crew consists of the following stock characters:

  • The Leader (with a chip on his shoulder that you could land jets on)
  • The Stud with a Porn Mustache (who everybody looks up to, hence the chip on The Leader’s shoulder)
  • The Girl with Something Extra (she’s psi-sensitive)
  • The Tough Guy Who Never Talks
  • The Rookie Who Is Very Nervous and Throws Up a Lot (aka Dead Meat)
  • The Over the Hill Commander Who Should Have Retired Before This Mission
  • The Blonde With Big…um…Ambitions
  • The Guy That We Think Might Be a Spy

We’ve been through this, we know that these characters are all going to be picked off one by one, but instead of one monster there seems to be a bunch of different ones (but interestingly enough, none that are anything like those pictured in the poster).

I’m not giving away too much, but just in case, be warned that the next bit might be considered a spoiler.

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Turns out that the creatures the crew encounters are actually manifestations of their own fears. For example, let’s say you happen to be The Blonde and you mention that you don’t like worms. Big mistake. You’re pretty much going to be raped by a big space worm.

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Yeah. The infamous worm rape scene. So that happened. For better or worse, it’s what the movie has become known for. Which is kind of messed up. What really threw censors for a loop was that poor Dameia seemed to be sort of enjoying it towards the end. Like I said…messed up.

Actually, Taaffe O’Connell, the actress pictured above being savaged by a large non-arthropod invertebrate, is a pretty good sport about the whole thing. She’s on the DVD commentary pointing out which shots are her body and which ones are the double, she also says that she negotiated the amount of skin that she would bare. Apparently they also wanted Joanie Cunningham to do some nudity too, but Chachi wouldn’t allow it, so they planned some very painful things to happen to her character. Roger doesn’t play, he wants to see titties.

Aside from Ms. O’Connell, there’s Erin Moran who was still on Happy Days at the time, and Edward Albert who had a Golden Globe. Then there’s a guy who used to be a Martian, a guy who would go on to become an undead child molester, and a guy who would later make his name in soft porn.

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Like I said earlier. GOT is a pretty good movie. The acting and the screenplay are a mixed bag, some of the effects are cheesy even by 1981 standards, and it’s clearly an Alien ripoff, but it owns the fact that it’s an Alien ripoff. In fact, it so owns that fact that they screened Alien on the set in case anyone needed a refresher course. Also, one of the key crew members was a young man named James Cameron who went on to play in the Alien universe for reals. He also made a couple other movies that you may be familiar with.

The Misplaced Boy MST3K Scale:

Go in with low expectations, steel yourself for a possible worm invasion, and you’ll have a good time.

cambot

Cambot

Closing Love Theme

In honor of the infamous worm scene I bring you Bette Midler and The Mills Brothers singing about a more friendly type of worm that has love on his mind:

A MISPLACED BOY WILL RETURN

in

“EVAN ALMIGHTY”

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