Saturday, May 28, 2011

Galaxy of Terror (Erin Moran has Crazy Eyes!)

I was motivated last night and finally got to watch Galaxy of Terror, which I had taped about a month ago off of the delightful Turner Classic Movies station. As a Corman fan, the movie sounded familiar to me, but honestly I probably wouldn't have been so excited for it had I not read this review by the amazing Vicar of VHS. Read his site. Do it. Now that my Friday nights are freed up from Supernatural, I have brought this back as my next Friday Night Fright viewing. Which is a just a goofy name I give to watching horror movies while my wife is at work.

Anyhow, on to the movie.

Galaxy of Terror is an ambitious little B movie that has us following the exploits of a spaceship crew sent to rescue some comrades who have fallen to an unknown fate on a distant planet. Well, unknown to them. We know that they're all dead, killed by something or other. The team is made up of such genre luminaries as Sid Haig, Robert Englund and Zalman King, with a side of Edward Albert and Erin "Joanie" Moran, as well as some other folks I don't quite recognize. Oh, and Ray Walston, who has always seemed like he was 70 years old.

Slowly, the team gets picked off in a variety of ways. Space leeches. Shadow Monster. Insect thing. Rape Worm. And more! The worm is one of the more controversial, I guess, scenes in the movie, where a buxom blond who hates worms gets killed by a maggot that is blown up to amazing proportions. Though, where everyone else gets killed in gruesome ways, she gets covered in slime and makes noises like she was being sexed to death. It fits with the things you find out at the end of the movie and is rather tame, really, compared to the tree rape in Evil Dead but still rubbed people the wrong way. Regardless, the team gets whittled down and soon they will come face to face with whatever has been killing them--but will the survive it?

This movie reminds me of why I loved 80s sci-fi, even the bad stuff. It's because that even when the budget is low, they really seemed like they were trying. Here we get some great set design for the ships that actually looks functional and more than just a slab of silver with a button on it. The backdrops are nice too, giving the wide shots a better depth and realism than if they had done the green screen that is commonplace now. Galaxy of Terror also reminded me of Aliens in the way a lot of the scenes were shot, especially the outside scenes with the miniatures and backdrops. Wiki-ing it, I found out that is because James Cameron was an assistant director on it. The more you know. It also says that Galaxy of Terror inspired Aliens, which I think is a bit of a stretch. I would say it owes more to Starship Troopers, but different strokes and all that.

Good acting, good gore and a decent plot help raise this movie up from the depths of others of its ilk. Joanie's crazy eyes alone make it worth it. Seriously. All whites, all the time. Scary stuff. Robert Englund turns out a more heroic role than we're used to from him now, save for the turn in V. And Sid Haig is a quiet thug with crystal ninja stars and foreshadowing. Check it out.

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