Halloween White Elephant: Galaxy of Terror (1981)

Posted by John Gholson - October 14th 2011 @ 12:49 pm

From Jacob Hall–“This is one wacky movie. I’m not sure if it’s a good movie, but man, seeing this with a packed audience in a real movie theater was one hell of an experience. This movie is like bad dream: incomprehensible, driven by ludicrous jumps in logic and sanity instead of story and filled to the brim with alien worm rape. It also features Sid Haig as a man who really, really loves his knives, so there’s no way it can be all bad.”

Galaxy of Terror felt like a punishment.  What did I do?  Maybe this was because I liked the recent remake/prequel of The Thing (it’s not great, but I didn’t hate it).  Surely, if I liked one cheap, crappy cash-in, I’d like another?

I’m not sure there wasn’t one second of this film that didn’t annoy me in some way.  The cast (Erin Moran, Sid Haig, Zalman King) seemed openly hostile toward each other and the audience.  There’s a constant electronic hum that stands in for a proper soundtrack, interrupted by cartoon sound effects.  I don’t mean sound effects that sound cartoony, I mean actual cartoon sound effects. Like, from The Flintstones.  I still don’t know if I get the ending either, making Galaxy of Terror an all-around waste of precious time on Earth. I only have so long to live, people.

In this blatant Alien rip-off (with a hefty dose of Forbidden Planet tossed in for good measure), a group of unlikeable space cadets are sent to investigate the death of a crew on the planet Morganthus.  They’re sent by the Planet Master — a humanoid figure with a bright red light-up Christmas tree bulb for a face.  Once there, they not only find the previous crew (all dead), but a big, mysterious pyramid as well.  Those who enter the pyramid die in illogical and gory ways, until just one person is left to answer to the Planet Master.

This is the 1981 equivalent of a dirt cheap 1950’s sci-fi film.  The characters are shrill, barely fleshed-out dopes in thermal underwear instead of spacesuits.  The special effects work is cheesy — the kind of gore that makes you laugh, not cringe.  Highlights include what looks like a giant swimming pool arm floaty slowly humping Grace Zabriski while dripping KY Jelly all over her.  The plot barely makes a lick of sense.  Worst of all, it’s deathly boring.

And I watched it all.  I say that proudly because I feel like I should get some kind of prize for this.  Is my only reward to warn others?  If so, consider this — they even made Ray Walston irritating.  That’s an incredible feat.  Galaxy of Terror is a rinky-dink, embarrassing “cult classic” with unconvincing puppet monsters and a cast of paycheck enthusiasts disguised as actors.  Avoid at all costs.  No matter how tempting it may seem (hey, it’s got Roger Corman’s name on it!), please just watch Alien again instead.

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  1. October 14th, 2011 | 1:07 pm | #1

    I agree, this one is pretty unwatchable. Corman also produced another Alien rip-off which came out a year later – Forbidden World. It’s just as poorly made, but I think it’s more entertaining (in the “so bad it’s good” sense).

  2. October 14th, 2011 | 9:42 pm | #2

    Agreed. This was not that impressive of a film.

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