Galaxy of Terror

Premature Amputation!
★★
☆☆☆
Released: 
1981
Director: 
Bruce D. Clark
Starring: 
Edward Albert, Erin Moran, Ray Walston. Zalman King, Grace Zabriskie
The Setup: 
Who knows wtf is happening, but it's happening in space.
Discussion: 

This Roger Corman film from the early 80s has an all-star cast of a certain type: Erin Moran, Grace Zabriskie, Sid Haig, Ray Walston... It concerns ye olde ragtag group of space renegades, on loan from Alien, who explore some distant planet and encounter all sorts of mysterious evils. Watch out for horny maggots.

This was recommended by a reader, as well as its same-era companion piece, Forbidden World, also by Roger Corman, and both from the 80s, which means it has bad effects, but if you grew up during a certain era, they are charmingly familiar, akin to cheap space effects from Buck Rogers or the original Battlestar Galactica. This also has an all-star cast of a certain type, including Zalman King, Ray Walston (from My Favorite Martian), Robert Englund, Sid Haig, Grace Zabriskie, who you loved on Twin Peaks, and the topper: Erin Fucking Moran! That's right--Joanie from Happy Days is here, trying her meager best. I suggest the liberal application of whatever substance you need to open your mind to the point where you can accept what you're about to witness here.

So as the credits play, we survey the ruins of a destroyed civilization. We notice the wildly over-active synth score that does not match the action in the least. This is the planet Xerxes, and we soon join this old hag who is sort of an oracle and pronounces the future. Now, I watched this maybe a week ago, and certain details have fallen out of my already-uncertain memory, so I'll just have to trust what little I can read of my notes when I say that the oracle "counsels master glow-face." Oh right--now I remember! There is some sort of mystical being with a glowing energy instead of a face, who is the master of the universe or some shit. I still don't know what it has to do with anything.

So we note the presence of that dude from House Where Evil Dwells and Sid Haig, lookin' hot with a shaved head and beard. There are numerous computer screens that display moving geometric shapes that are supposed to signify "calculating." Soon we realize that we have ye olde ragtag crew, pretty much exactly from Alien, and a hard-bitten female captain who does crazy stunts like make reckless jumps to hyperdrive. She then turns oddly reflective, making her seem more than a tad crazy. The hyperdrive special effects are particularly unimpressive. Meanwhile Erin Moran is delivering her best Pat Benatar imitation. Amazingly, there was just a story the other day that Erin Moran now has no money and is living in a trailer park.

SPOILERS > > >
So they go explore the planet, and find a massive pyramid. They meet some stop-motion-animated aliens, who kill one of them. Then one of them goes down into a big hole inside, and gets eaten. If all of this sounds like Alien, well, it looks like it too. We see that the captain is extremely prone to emotional spells. Moran turns out to be a Troi-esque psychic. What I mean by Troi-esque is that she never comes out with any useful information. Haig is extremely intense, and barely has any lines. He has a very, very emotional moment which causes him to stare at his gun intensely. He wields these crystal throwing stars that he whips into a door as it's closing. They shatter, then come back together, and one of them whips into Haig's arm. The point breaks off, and we see it traveling upward under his skin. So he does what any of us might, and chops his whole arm off! Premature amputation! But the danger is not over, as the severed arm throws one of the stars at him and he dies.

Meanwhile, one of the comely women is confronted with some maggots. Real maggots WERE harmed in the making of this film. One of the maggots grows to massive size and comes after her. She falls under it and--whoosh, suddenly all her clothes are gone. Yup, it just happens like that. Then the maggot rapes her. You'd think that could be a little discreet, but no, it goes on for a while and we see all sorts of slimy tentacles all over her breast and making unmistakable fucking motions between her legs.

Now, are you detecting any consistent plot here? Because I'm not. In fact, I made it all the way to the end of the movie without ever really discerning why any of this is happening or why the characters are doing what they are. But why should we judge a movie based on that? Anyway, the captain his gone completely bonkers and has repaired to the Nintendo station to play video games which she thinks are real. It was this late into the movie that WHAM it hit me--the captain is Grace Zabriskie! Oh, the poor woman. Soon after, the entire crew slide down a big hole, for some reason. Now I have written in my notes: "I've been falling asleep, but when I wake up, nothing has happened."

By this time one notes that Moran's character seems to think it helpful to scream "I hate it! I hate it!" regarding the trip, the ship, the aliens, the mission. I guess self-expression is important. Anyway, soon Englund is fighting a double of himself, and Moran gets constricted to death, her head crushed. And now--are you ready for the shocking revelation? Turns out Walston is the glow-face! And he's been making all of the crew face (and be killed by) their deepest fears. That would imply that Haig's deepest fear is being killed by his own severed arm, and the other woman has a deep-seated fear of being raped by a giant maggot. I guess we all have our irrational terrors. Anyway, the last remaining dude does an awesome flip right over the giant maggot, and finally kills glow-face, then becoming glow-face himself. Thanks so much for joining us!
< < < SPOILERS END

Well, if you want a bad sci-fi movie, here it is. It was quite amusing, and filled with lots to laugh at, but... I don't know, there's just a tiny something missing. I think because it seems to have been intended to be quite bad, with outrageous scenes, and a d-grade cast, and bad effects, that somehow it's just not the same as a movie that is trying to be good, and ended up being bad. I would watch this ONLY if you have already seen Laserblast, Megaforce and Starcrash. In the meantime I have indeed watched Forbidden World, AKA Mutant. I have to write a review of that one now, and really, I'm not sure how I'll be able to tell them apart.

Should you watch it: 

If you need a bad sci-fi movie, and have already seen the best ones.