“Galaxy of Terror” manages to combine science fiction with nerve-shattering horror to create a unique experience. What started out as a low-budget “Alien” clone from producer Roger Corman has, over time, become a wonderful hidden gem for fans of cult movies.
Interestingly enough, the old VHS box from Embassy has visually stunning artwork with the tagline, “Hell has just been relocated.” Two giant alien monsters on the cover seem to be in a heated battle, and this allows the imagination of the renter’s mind to run wild. But keep in mind this was produced by Corman, who is notorious for producing VHS covers that have nothing to do with the film.
“Galaxy of Terror” had a brief theatrical run under the title “Mindwarp: An Infinity of Terror,” and it started the career of a talented second-unit director that caught the eye of the producer: James Cameron. So, this is actually the humble beginning of the king of the world.
The concept of this film is quite confusing and not made clear until the end of the picture, which may throw some viewers off. The crew of a rescue ship is stranded on a planet, where they are attacked by the biggest fears their imaginations can conjure up. Without this part of the picture being explained, it causes some gaps in understanding the continuity, but the effects are amazing enough to capture your imagination.
The concept is just a framing sequence for some truly bizarre moments, which will appease lovers of the genre. The film is most famous for the scene of a woman being molested by a giant worm, and you find it shocking that this is where the future director of “Avatar” and “Titanic” got his start.
One of the major assets to this movie is the wonderful cast that was assembled. Stars on the rise are cast alongside falling stars, creating a very interesting dynamic.
Erin Moran, who you must remember from “Happy Days,” is one of the top billed actresses, and her performance is sloppy. It almost feels as if she is aware that her (happy) days as an actress are numbered, and that she just needs a paycheck.
Supporting Moran are veteran character actors Ray Walston and Edward Albert, who manage to pick up the slack from Moran’s lousy acting. Also supporting her is Zalman King, who eventually gave up acting to write “9 1/2 Weeks” and the series “Red Shoe Diaries.”
Finally, the cast is rounded out by a couple of B-movie icons, Robert Englund and Sid Haig. These two actors elevate the material with their unique acting abilities, and are a major reason to watch this movie.
The entire experience of the picture is a combination of the pulp ’50s space schlock and the gory decadence of the late ’70s. That combination is what gives an edge to this movie that many pictures today don’t seem to have.
For the longest time this has only been available on VHS, but Corman has recently made a deal with Shout! Factory to start releasing his work. This has a street date of July 20 of this year.
Ambitious careers on the rise and people facing the end of their careers was what fueled the duration of “Galaxy of Terror.” The film does suffer from a few shortcomings, but for the most part, the picture is a kitschy good time – if you can stomach it.