Galaxy of Terror
Your countdown to Hell is about to begin!
Year of Release: 1981
Also Known As: Quest, Planet of Horrors, Mindwarp: An Infinity of Terror
Genre: Horror/Science Fiction
Running Time: 81 minutes (1:21)
Director: Bruce D. Clark
Edward Albert ... Cabren
Erin Moran ... Alluma
Ray Walston ... Kore
Bernard Behrens ... Commander Ilvar
Zalman King ... Baelon
Robert Englund ... Ranger
Taaffe O'Connell ... Dameia
Sid Haig ... Quuhod
Grace Zabriskie ... Captain Trantor
Jack Blessing ... Cos
Brian Wade ... Shadow monster (uncredited)
The innermost fears of the mind become reality for the crew members of the Quest when they land on the barren planet Morganthus hoping to find the missing crew members of the starship Remus: only to discover something deadly waiting for them. Each member of the rescuing team must come face to face with their darkest fears or perish.
Galaxy of Terror... ya know, it's been said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, but I'm thinkin' F.D.R. prolly never had his fear materialize into the the caterpillar from Godzilla vs. Mothra an start violatin' 'im worse'n the TSA workin' over a Middle Eastern guy wearin' size 17 Reeboks. An speakin' of guys with big fungus infested feet, these hippies from Seattle flew down here a coupla weeks ago to film a documentary about Bigfoot. You've prolly seen these things before, it's where a camera crew goes out in the woods at night so nobody can see anything so they can spend a few nights attributin' normal woodland noises to the Satch man. This was bound to happen eventually cause we've got the 3rd most Bigfoot sightins per capita of any county this side of Hamhock, Arkansas an considerin' we're the only town with more flea markets than college graduates in the Pacific Northwest, it's only natural that some granola bar eatin' sissy'd show up tryin' to get rich offa this nonsense sooner or later. Course it's always the tourists that report these sightins, cause everybody from these parts's known that there ain't no such thing as Bigfoot ever since Aesop Marlin suckered the Schwartzberg brothers who own Saul 'n Blaine's Bridal Boutique and Marriage Annulment Center, into fundin' an expedition that yeilded little more'n the "discovery" of the Tankersley clan who live out in the boonies an have Hypertrichosis. Pretty funny really, considerin' the patriarch, Silas Tankersley, has about 25 IQ points on Aesop an snuck up on 'im usin' an elk decoy to hide behind. Anyway what I'm tryin' to say is; these parasites're pawin' at the wrong trash can. So a coupla the guys an I thought it'd be funny to rig up a Bigfoot suit outta bear hide scraps from Cleave Furguson's taxidermy shop an put it on Billy Hilliard, since he's built like a refrigerator on steroids to begin with, an go mess with these pansy pickers.
Billy looked the part but somethin' was missin', so I went over to Skunky Hernadez' place an asked to borrow the tank top he's been wearin' since late February an stapled it to Billy's rear end so anybody within three miles'd notice, even though Skunky's tank top has been known to cause permanent damage of the nasal septum. So once it'd gotten good an dark an the townies'd scarfed down a coupla pans of pot brownies to enhance their paranoia for the benefit of the audience an begun stumblin' over stumps an the occasional salt lick, we headed for their base camp. Not surprisingly, Skunky's tank top worked like a sleazy come-on at last call, an once they got a good whiff of it an finished horkin' up their Bistro-to-Go takeout they got deathly serious an had the on-screen tool start tellin' the camera about how Bigfoot is a "curious, highly intelligent steward of the forest." This was the moment we chose to send Billy chargin' in there roarin' like Mufasa on a gazelle hunt an they scattered like illegals durin' an I.C.E. raid, each one frantically tryin' to either shimmie up a pine tree or extricate 'imself from his Birkenstocks so he could effectively flee for his life an while that was goin' on Cleave an I took the opportunity to dump their Aqua Fina cooler on the camp fire 'til they were blinder'n the Congressional Committee on Science. I'm certain at least two of 'em had night vision cameras on, so I'd imagine Billy's gonna be a star on one of those channels that used to run documentaries but gave up on that format in favor of airin' nothin' but programs from the "mentally handicapped people caught in the act of existin'" lineup. I think the funniest thing musta been when they started reachin' for their cell phones an realized they had no service an started screamin' like a girl scout troop that nearly stepped on a rattlesnake. Would you believe that some people actually claim there's nothin' fun to do around here?
But anyway, more on topic, Galaxy of Terror hasta be at least one of the 25 best Roger Corman Alien clones of the 1980s, an easily the best space epic ever made to feature interior sets made of McDonald's takeout containers. An I feel it only fitting that we honor those brave men and women who're prolly no longer with us after consuming the number of Big Macs required to build the sets, and will now run down just a few of the things I was fortunate enough to learn, due in no small part to their noble sacrifices. First, in the future all "game masters" will have glowin' orange heads. Currently, game masters do tend a bit on the orange side facially speakin', though this has more to do with Cheeto dust than any magical powers. Second, claspin' your legs around somebody before take-off is a perfectly adequate solution to offset the tremendous g-forces involved in lightspeed travel. An third, after his wanton destruction of fantastic hooters, Ray Walston is no longer My Favorite Martian. But I think the part in this one that got me thinkin' the most was that scene where the old man commander comes across this big hole that looks like the Sarlacc pit from Return of the Jedi with his crew an he starts feelin' real old an thinkin' he don't have it anymore. So the blonde chick smacks 'im around a little bit an tells 'im to quit talkin' crazy an he turns to 'er an says; "when I look at you I don't feel old," which is more or less just a classy way of sayin' "you're like sentient Viagra, baby." This got me to thinkin' about why it is that male chauvinists an feminazis can't seem to get along, cause once the guy's sexual harassment in the workplace gets out in the open we've got a couple possible scenarios that can play out. The first of which bein' that this woman is in fact a feminazi an she simply twists the guy's genitalia into a penis pretzel an tells 'im to keep his wrinkly old man huevos to 'imself, at which point she demonstrates what a strong independent woman she is an gets eaten by the giant space leeches who live in the walls of the hole. The second possibility is that she's not a feminazi an just pukes in 'er mouth a little bit while the old schlong supremacist descends into the pit an gets eaten alive by the tentacle rape monsters waitin' for 'im. Realistically this seems like an ideal solution to me, cause in both scenarios the more assertive person ends up feedin' the space worms an I have a powerful loathin' of assertive people. An in the long run, if the more assertive people from each group are always the ones to get murdered as a direct result of tryin' to show off how hardcore they are, logically, over time the extreme members of each faction will die off, leavin' only the sensible moderates from each group to better perfect their workin' relationship. It ain't perfect, but its a start. We need a game show like this in Japan where the biggest blowhards from both factions compete to find out who's got the bigger mouth an once that's determined maybe force 'em to perform in a kabuki theater til they commit suicide, or have Godzilla chew on their heads til they look like meatball marinara. I'd watch that.
The movie begins with this old hag of a narrator talkin' bout how she hasta spend all 'er time playin' D&D with "The Game Master" cause he made a big scene at Bingo a few months back an got banned from the VFW or somethin'. The Game Master has a head like a radioactive potato an talks like Stephen Hawking's voice synthesizer if it were simulatin' a lesbian attack-dog trainer. Then this old guy (Ilvar) comes on TV an tells The Master that he's lost contact with one of their ships an it's gonna take Comcast approximately 44,000 years to get out there an make the phone repairs, so The Master says to get a crew together an go find out what happened before he shoves his d20 dice up that hemorrhoid hotel he calls an ass. So Ilvar goes down to the front desk an fills out the rental forms to borrow the '58 Edsel of space ships, an before he can even hit the can an depressurize his spastic colon, this dusty headed broad (Trantor) shows up an tells his crew they've got about 30 seconds to sit their asses down before she mashes the red button an sends 'em all through the windshield like unsecured luggage in the back seat of a minivan. Most everybody's able to fasten their seat belts an get their tray tables into their fully locked an upright positions, cept Robert Englund who loses the game of musical chairs, an so this blonde chick with coconut crackin' thighs (Dameia) wraps 'em around Rob like they're chicken fightin' an pretty quick they blast off to the sound of the THX certification demo. Unfortunately, Trantor's in a serious hurry cause she wants to get home before All My Children starts, an so she smacks the Ludicrous Speed button til everybody starts seein' in the rainbow spectrum like in 2001: A Space Odyssey an they get there in about six seconds. She knows knows the Federation's gonna fine 'er ass back to the stone age an make 'er go to traffic school for destroyin' the interstellar speed limit, but she couldn't be forced to give a shit if the ship's replicator hid Ex-lax in 'er Tang. Then the red alert noise goes off cause the planet they're headin' to has a gravitational pull that sucks harder'n Lindsay Lohan for a line of cocaine an by the time they come to a stop there's some pretty serious competition for top honors in the biggest skidmark competition between Ilvar's Depends an what was previously a hockey rink, where they scraped off the bulk of the ship's hull.
The crew don't waste no time gettin' out onto the planet's surface, an once they get out there it looks about like Detroit after the last few jobs finally got shipped over to China. So they make their way over to the original crew's spaceship an once they get inside this body drops down from the ceilin' an Sid Haig hasta spin this gigantic ninja-star cut outta hippie crystals into it to make sure he's still in practice in case there's a slasher from an 80s flick stickin' people to the roof for cheap scares. Then the second in command (Baelon) whips out his flamethrower so he can pretend he's Sigourney Weaver in Alien an torches the body just in case it's got the space-AIDS before tellin' everybody to fan out an check for survivors an anything else he can set on fire. Naturally, they got stuck with a new guy who's basically the wimp who was always the last one picked for flag football at recess an he ends up seein' some kinda stop motion menace creepin' around an starts freakin' out like a cow that survived the initial blow from the sledgehammer at a slaughterhouse, til he meets back up with the rest of the crew, blubberin' like Greenpeace at a Japanese porpoise hunt. Then they head back to the ship, cept for the new guy who's traumatized, an still sportin' the Percodan stare of eternity, an by the time he finally gets his head together he gets grabbed, stabbed, an slabbed by a mutant space crawdad. It's hard to say how long it takes for somebody to notice 'im goin' missin' due to his general uselessness, but they do eventually figure it out an scoop 'im up into a Hefty bag so Rob an Dameia can poke around in his gut-bucket, an come to the conclusion that they dunno what happened cause he's more cuisine than man now. Then Ilvar decides they aughta go check out this big pyramid an he breaks 'em up into teams an after awhile he, Dameia, an Cabren find a chasm the size of Ted Cruz' Stupid Gland an Ilvar insists on goin' down first to make sure it's safe for Dameia's jigglers. Unfortunately it isn't safe at all, an pretty quick Cthulhu reaches outta the walls with these supersized space leech fingers that suck Ilvar's brain out like a meth-head workin' a siphon hose, an by the time Cabren gets down there he looks like a chunk of manicotti with the fillin' slurped out. Then the two groups meet up near the top an Baelon finds a door leadin' inside, only it starts closin' an Sid hasta throw his ninja stars into the entry way to try holdin' it open an they end up shatterin' like a tube-light at a CZW show.
So Baelon hasta blast it open with his laser cannon an asks Sid to stand guard at the door, an when he tries givin' 'im the blaster Sid gets P.O.'d an tells 'im he lives an dies by the code of the ninja an he'd appreciate it if Baelon'd get that Star Wars bullshit out of his face. But after Baelon leads the group through the pyramid for awhile with zero defiled tombs to show for it, Dameia gets worried about Sid an goes to check on 'im, only Sid's gotten locked out like Fred Flintstone when he tries puttin' Baby Puss out for the night, an pretty quick his ninja stars reconstitute themselves an the tip snaps offa one an flies into his arm an starts swimmin' around in there like a loose contact lens in an eye socket. Then Sid hasta hack his arm off but that don't help none cause it's got a mind of its own like John Candy's tail in Spaceballs an it ends up grabbin' the other ninja star an usin' it to clog Sid's left ventricle like a supersonic cholesterol cannon. Eventually, Dameia finds Sid an hasta roast 'im like a rat on a North Korean spit, cept by then his severed arm's covered with worms an when she misses one it grows into the caterpillar from Godzilla vs. Mothra an tears all 'er clothes off an proceeds to caterpole 'er to death. Meanwhile back on the ship, Rob's lookin' for Trantor after noticin' the security settins on the ship's turret cannons're set to "NRA fock yeah" an so he enlists My Favorite Martian, who's hadda sign on as the mess hall cook after his series didn't take off as well as expected, to help him 'im find 'er. Cept Uncle Martin don't want 'im to find 'er an decides to brain Rob with his bedpan, an by the time Martin finds Trantor she's havin' a Space 'Nam flashback an has commandeered the laser cannon so she can play Minestorm on their Vectrex system. Martin eventually gets 'er to relinquish 'er joystick, but by then she's gone completely apeshit like Tom Skerritt in Cheech & Chong's Up in Smoke, an when she gets to the door she gets baked like a rotisserie chicken by the security field. This is about the point where Rob finally returns from the dream world an sees what's happenin' on one of the security monitors. Course by the time he gets down to where Trantor's gettin' fried like a Texan on death row she looks like a side of beef slathered in ketchup, an there's this strange moment where you realize this's precisely what Rob's gonna spend the rest of his career lookin' like.
Elsewhere, what remains of the team finds Dameia's slobbery nekkid corpse an toast 'er niptials before headin' back to the ship so they can squabble about whether they'll still be alive by the time their parents show up to give 'em a ride home, since they can't leave due to a force field holdin' 'em in place like a roll of back flab in a corset. So everybody that hasn't been mutilated an turned into a charcoal briquette heads back into the 10,000 Cent Pyramid where Uncle Martin starts screwin' around with the garage door opener an ends up lockin' Baelon outta their panic room, resultin' in this monster with a head shaped like the Pope's hat tearin' his guts open like a tube of cookie dough after a Weight Watchers meetin'. Rob is P.O.'d cause he's finally startin' to figure out who bedpanned his brainpan back on the ship, an he thinks Uncle Martin got Baelon killed on purpose. Then they wander into Death Mountain where there're Triforces painted all over the walls an Rob's stunt double sneaks up on 'im an they grapple til he finally realizes how obnoxious it musta been for all the teenagers who could never seem to kill 'im in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Eventually he figures out that he's just got Yogg Saron in his head an that none of it's real, an once he makes 'imself dissipate like a rotten fart he goes to find Cabren an Alluma. Cept Alluma's gotten 'erself separated an pretty quick she's attacked by a buncha cables that look like the backside of my entertainment center an they end up pullin' 'er apart like a pan of hot cinnamon rolls. Cabren has sad face cause he knows this senseless tragedy coulda been avoided if she'd only agreed to take that extension cord self defense course back at the academy. Then Rob finally catches up an explains that Dick Clark's runnin' around in this pyramid somewhere pullin' the strings, an that all the monsters're phonier'n a set of knockers at a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader tryout, cause they're bein' created from their own fears. So with the cat outta the bag, Uncle Martin shows 'imself an tells 'em that the game ain't over til the fat lady sings, an since he expressly forbade any fat broads from bein' in the movie they're still bent over Donkey Kong's barrel about to get Rape Aped. Cabren don't care though cause he's still P.O.'d about his comrades goin' out all blazed an gory an so he heads up this staircase for the big showdown with Uncle Martin, who's floatin' in the air all crosslegged like one of those 200 year old kung fu masters with billy goat hair on their chins from a chopsockey flick. Gonna cut here, so if you wanna find out how it ends you'll hafta buy the movie an give Roger his cut of the action.
Alrighty, well, this one's built up a bit of a cult fanbase since the advent of the internet, based largely on the general silliness, a fairly unique cast and crew, and of course, there's that big worm having it's way with Taaffe O' Connell. Taaffe's only objection was apparently not so much doing the scene, but havin' to be slimed up while it was freezin' ass cold. The IMDB claims she was nearly crushed to death under the weight of the "one ton" worm, but I'm not sure I buy that cause I don't think Roger Corman would spring for the kinda cash necessary to create something that weighs a ton. Roger made a few of these Alien inspired flicks back in the 80s, and although this one is probably the best known, I prefer both Forbidden World and The Terror Within. They've just got a higher production standard in general (some of the walls in this one are made from McDonald's takeout containers, though I'm not complaining as they seem to work) and have marginally better plots. Course, The Terror Within also had to get that monster rape scene in there somewhere, just like this one does. I don't really know what to make of that scene, I kinda liken it to the one in Basket Case in that it looks so ridiculous that, even though it's still completely tasteless, you really can't be too offended because it's so goofy and implausible. But whatever you think about it, that worm's gotten Galaxy of Terror a 5.0 on the IMDB, which is higher than The Terror Within and not far behind Forbidden World, with almost twice as many ratings as the latter two combined. Evidently, there were some other scenes that had to be scissored out when the flick got slapped with an X rating the first time they ran it by the MPAA censors including; a lengthier worm sequence, a brain protruding from a head that was hacked open (though I seem to recall seeing that, so maybe it was just longer), and some bone crushing sound effects when Ron Howard's little sister from Happy Days got crunched to death by the electrical wiring. So of course, Roger had to compromise on his artistic vision because the sissies at the MPAA threw a fit about some perfectly harmless brutality. Also of note would be that, with the exception of Rock and Roll High School where he's credited as a production assistant, this movie features James Cameron's very first gig on a movie, having done the production design work. Sure is a shame that a lot of the great ones end up gettin' stuck-up on us and makin' crap like Avatar just to get rich, but I guess that's how it goes. Still, there's no reason to egg James if you see him out in the streets panhandlin' or whatever he does now, after all he did give us the first two Terminator flicks, Aliens, Piranha II, and of course, Galaxy of Terror, before makin' that big ole boat capsize and send its bow high into the air like an enormous middle finger. Bill Paxton also worked on this one before he'd gotten into acting as the set decorator, so maybe it was Bill that took one for the team and scarfed down all the Big Macs necessary to create the amazing sets that we bear witness to in the flick.
Okay then, lets blowtorch this thing an see if there's anything worth digestin'. The plot's decent enough, starts out like Alien but then goes on to be somewhat akin to The Tingler, with the idea being that a person's fear can take on physical form and do them in. Of course, in the Tingler the creature already exists and the fear causes it to grow, but it's basically the same idea. Stephen King's IT would be a more modern example. There's a little more to it than that, but explaining it would be spoiling the ending and I think I spoil enough as it is. The acting, in all honesty, isn't anything special. Certainly not bad by any means, but many people have likely been sucked in by the impressive cast, which includes both stars from decades past and fresh faces of the future. You've got Ray Walson of My Favorite Martian fame and Erin Moran from Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi who would've appealed to audiences of the time, but also Sid Haig and Robert Englund for anyone interested in seeing some of the earlier performances from guys who're now juggernauts of the genre. Though again, we've got little more than sufficient if unmemorable performances, save maybe Grace Zabriskie as the PTSD ridden pilot who's havin' trouble copin' with her Space 'Nam flashbacks, she was a cut above the others. Here's who matters and why, save Rob an Sid who're too cool for school: Edward Albert (Mimic 2, Space Marines, Sorceress 1995, Demon Keeper, The House Where Evil Dwells, Killer Bees), Ray Walston (The Stand, Space Case, Popcorn, Saturday the 14th Strikes Back, Blood Relations, The Fall of the House of Usher 1979), Bernard Behrens (Top of the Food Chain, What's Up Hideous Sun Demon, The Changeling 1980), Taaffe O' Connell (New Year's Evil), Grace Zabriske (The Grudge, The Glow, They Crawl, Home the Horror Story, Armegeddon, The Devil's Child, Blood Ties, Servants of Twilight, Child's Play 2), Mary Ellen O' Neill (Beyond the Universe, Time Warp), Kenny Myers (The House on Sorority Row, Back to the Future III). Ray Walston, as was previously mentioned, would be best remembered for the role of Uncle Martin on My Favorite Martian, but did a great deal more than that in the mainstream, with other classic roles including; Mr. Hand in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, J.J. Singleton in The Sting, Joe Debish in The Apartment, Poopdeck Pappy in Popeye, Mad Jack Duncan in Paint Your Wagon, and he was also Judge Henry Bone on Pickett Fences. Edward Albert would probably prefer to be remembered as Mr. Collins from the Power Rangers Time Force series (then again, he may not), and Erin Moran probably peaked with her role as Joanie Cunningham on Happy Days and it's spin off, Joanie Loves Chachi. Zalmon King is likely to be remembered for the Showtime series Zalmon King's Red Shoe Diaries, which was essentially softcore porn that only kids under 18 who couldn't get a girlfriend watched at 2am. Grace Zabriskie would prolly appreciate it if I brought up her less interesting, if identifiable parts, including; Lois Henrickson on Big Love and Sarah Palmer on Twin Peaks. So something for everyone in this one, in terms of the cast.
The special effects for the most part are pretty fair, with a wide selection of different monsters since they're all springing to life from the various characters' imaginations. The giant worm is probably the best one, bearing a striking resemblance to the caterpillar from Godzilla vs. Mothra. But the brain-sucking leeches in the pit are pretty good too, as is the stop motion creepy crawlie early on that we never get a very good look at, and the thing with a head like the Pope's hat. Though that last one has a couple unflattering shots when shown from the side view. Then you've also got the damage these things inflict, which is also pretty good, with only a couple misfires. The opened up skull early on with exposed brain is a good one, the crystal shard swimmin' around in Sig Haig's arm ain't bad, Grace Zabriskie's immolated but still vertical corpse is particularly good, and Zalmon King's gut's pourin' out are pretty fair, if brief. The worst ones are probably both on Erin Moran, who essentially gets split apart by a buncha electrical cords. But the pieces don't look that great, and her exploding head is particularly inept. But in general, most of the special effects were well-executed and looked cool. The shooting locations were all sets built by New World Pictures, and as I've mentioned before in the reviews for The Terror Within and Forbidden World, New World Pictures excelled at building cheesy, but just believable enough space sets. Nobody made a low budget space set like these guys, I can't get enough of these things, and of course they'd reuse parts of them in other movies to save money, but that's no big deal. The planet's surface is pretty neat as well, kinda shades of Aliens a few years down the road once James Cameron got to do his own movies. Excellent all around, very high marks for these sets, New World was one of the few studios that keeps me from advocating that *all* sets are inferior to on-location shooting. The soundtrack, honestly, is kinda bad. At least the bulk of it, which is too frantic to be enjoyable, does nothing to enhance the scenes in which it plays, and comes off as 80s science fiction thrash metal. There are a couple subdued tracks that're all synthesized, and those tracks are okay, but they don't get nearly the kind of air time as the obnoxious stuff. The sound effects are hit and miss too, I like the classic red alert noises and the stuff that sounds like a heart monitor from 1967, but there're also a few that're so goofy as to border on parody. Like when the space leeches are suckin' the brains outta Bernard Behrens, for instance; I know I've heard those sound effects in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons, usually when something squishy or mushy's makin' contact with somebody. Overall, still a decent flick, but inferior to The Terror Within and Forbidden World, check it out if you like Corman and/or cheesy 80s Sci Fi monster flicks.