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GALAXY OF TERROR (1981)

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GALAXY OF TERROR (1981)

Sunday, 25 August 2013 04:00

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Written by 

The Buzz:

     A ship on a rescue mission to a strange stormy planet uncovers a dark secret about their destination. The fate of the crew is grim as they struggle to understand what happened to the previous crew who crashed here and survive the horrors that lurk around every corner. This cult classic sci-fi thriller produced by B-Movie legend Roger Corman is a strange amalgamation of things that, while not working as well as one would like, doesn't stray too far off the mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life of the Party:

 

     This is not going to be one of my shorter to the point reviews. There's a lot to say about this film. There is a good reason it's become a cult classic! First let's discuss the cast and the fact that largely, despite some dodgy writing, this picture has some great acting by a star studded cast. This is Robert Englund's (best known for being Freddy Kreuger for the last 30 years) second ever film! Even early on you can see why this guy became a legend; his acting chops are great. Did you know a few years prior he was considered to play Han Solo? Yeah, mother fucker. That's how great this man is. Next you have the also legendary Sid Haig. Younger audiences probably know him as Professor Spalding from Rob Zombie's movies (House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects), but older readers may also know him from 70's blacksploitation films like Foxy Brown. He was a staple actor of that film's director, Jack Hill, as well as Roger Corman. Next up is Erin Moran; yes… that's right… lovable Joanie Cunningham from Happy Days. The last big name I was to bring up is Ray Walston. This dude. I know you know this guy. He's been in everything from episodes of Star Trek to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and was one of the stars of the 60's era TV show My Favorite Martian. He never had huge parts in films, but always stole the screen no matter what he played. He was one of those faces you were always like "YEA! THAT GUY!" He sadly died in 2001 and I miss seeing him pop up everywhere… The cast has a number of people who all had decent careers other than these such as Zalman King (yeah… you know. As In Zalman King's Red Shoe Diaries.). I recommend going on wikipedia and reading through the cast's bios. Pretty interesting stuff!

 

     Side note: This is James Cameron's second film he ever worked on as well. He got his start with Roger Corman and it was his ingenuity on the set as a Production Assistant that got him a leg up in the industry. Pretty fucking cool. Without this we wouldn't have Terminator 2 or Aliens. Then again… we wouldn't have Avatar either, so I'm not sure exactly how thrilled I am anymore.

 

     As for the film itself it feels VERY much like it's trying to be Alien that came out 2 years prior. The ship and corridors and planet itself all feel very much like I'm back on the Nostromo and LV-426. Which isn't a bad thing, per se, but it doesn't have the suspense or effects of that film so you're occasionally torn between feeling elated at the visual queues and let down that it's not quite living up to what you want it to be. That being said, the suspense and effects aren't bad. Comparing them to Alien and then saying it doesn't match it's predecessor is like looking at a half a pizza and then being mad it's not a whole pizza. As a fat kid I'm all too familiar with that pain, but the answer is the same here as it is there: "Shut up and take what you can get, stomach. I'm sure there's twinkles in the cupboard if you're still hungry after." This film is much more cerebral than Alien, which is what sets it apart. Honestly in that way it reminds me much more of another film, one that didn't come for 16 years later;  Event Horizon. Now Event Horizon is still one of the most mind fuck scary films I've ever seen. This isn't scary to that level, but it plays with the character's heads in a similar way and makes you get to see what makes each one of them tick. 

 

     Another side note: This film is relatively famous also for a death scene that occurs through the rape of a woman by a giant slimy worm. Yep. If that doesn't have you running for your Netflix Instant Watch, I don't know what will. But what's interesting to me is how similar it (and actually another scene where Erin Moran is strapped down) is to the tree rape scene in Evil Dead (shameless plug to my review of that film's recent remake!). Evil Dead technically released the same year as Galaxy of Terror, however was shot 3 years prior in 1978. It would not surprise me if Corman had seen it before working on this film.

 

Hey guys... help lower me into this giant anus.

 

Potential Hangovers:

 

     There's a number of hangovers that go along with the really great things about this picture. It's a really dark movie. And by that I don't mean that it's macabre. Or a comment on it's ethnicity. Because there isn't one damn person of color in the whole film. I guess the exception is maybe Sid Haig, but he's Armenian and I'm not sure how they characterize themselves. That's not being prejudice, I just legitimately don't know any Armenians and am totally ignorant on such things. I'm sorry, Sid. I still love you. Anyways, I mean the lighting is atrocious. I'm not sure if the budget was so low that Corman couldn't pay for lights or if this was all done on purpose, but if this movie got any darker I'd wonder if it was a pint of Guinness. I get that the dark can be scary to people because we fill that void with all of our worst nightmares and imagination. But when there's something on scene we should be watching… the darkness stops being atmosphere and starts being the thing that stops us from screaming out at the REAL horror you're proposing was there all along. 

 

     Another thing about this film that I'll discuss here, though is sort of a double edged sword, is the setting. The whole movie I feel like I've been dropped into a vast and interesting universe to watch one event… and provided no context by which to understand half the things I'm seeing. Imagine watching Return of the Jedi, but never seeing any other Star Wars thing EVER. Nothing. No knowledge at all. And expected to understand what the FUCK is going on. That's how it feels watching this. Why does Sid Haig love crystals so much?! What's that weird game they're playing in the beginning?! What significance does The Master have in the galaxy?! Did he acquire the power of The Glow from Sho-nuff?! What happened on Captain Trantor's last ship?! Why do they dress like Ghostbusters!? In an age where we can traverse the galaxy does it really require a BACKPACK SIZED BATTERY to fuel two flashlights?! What happened to Ranger at the end?! What kind of fucked up race submitted their children to a game like this?! NO WONDER THEY ARE EXTINCT! I honestly feel like there is a badass universe developed for this flick, but we only get one little glimpse and when the credits roll we're just left with more questions than anything else.

 

Does everyone have their Junior Ghostbuster outfits?

 

The Vibe: Casual Gathering, Big Party

 

     Alex is really the guy who should have reviewed this, I think. He is our resident Corman guru, however I saw this on Netflix and while I'd heard of it, I'd actually never seen it. So I figured I'd toss it on. I ended up watching it THREE TIMES before writing this just so I had a good idea what the fuck happened. And also.. because it was enjoyable enough to watch over again. It's dated and could have had a better budget, but ultimately this is a solid sci-fi thriller. If you and your friends are looking either for something you can throw on and laugh at while also getting a bit of a thrill ride, or just background noise with 80's special effects monsters and some amusing deaths, I highly recommend giving this a shot. 

 

Update: Alex has started a new web series that kicks off with an indepth look at this picture! Check it out!

 

Plus/Minus:

 

+ Star studded cast!

+ Decent attempt at following Alien

+ Worm Rape!

+/- Interesting universe we never get to know about.

- Darker than the darkest dark times infiniti

 

Drinking Games:

 

- Drink anytime you see a planet from space.

- Drink anytime someone attacks something that's not alive.

- Finish your drink when a crew member dies.

- Drink when someone makes a fist in front of some one else, or put their hand on someone's shoulder.

-HARDCORE MODE: Drink when it's dark as fuck.

Read 1916 times Last modified on Tuesday, 03 September 2013 02:36

About Us

Tanked Matinee is the place to go for good drinking movies. What do we mean by that? Simply speaking, we evaluate and recommend entertainment media based on how much fun it is to watch with friends on the sofa and a cold beer in hand.

Everyone knows "The Godfather" is a great movie, but is it as great to drink with as "Roadhouse?" We can appreciate "Citizen Kane" as a masterpiece of cinema, but is it as good a centerpiece for your party as "Santa Clause Conquers the Martians?"

Tanked Matinee appreciates film as art, but when you're kicking back on Friday night with a tall Rum & Coke, you're not looking for art, man, you want to be entertained. We're here to recommend the best movies for your night in, whether it's a big party, small get-together, or just a quiet night alone with a bottle of wine or three.

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