There's a lot of cheese-whiz dialogue in Galaxy of Terror (your first hint: the title of the movie), but the above-noted line has become legendary in some circles (and galaxies, for that matter). It was one of the few (if not only) lines uttered by cult superstar Sid Haig in this 1981 space-centric horror film.
This gory B-thriller also features a pre-V Robert Englund, Grace Zabriskie before she fell for Big Love, Zalman King before he tried on the Red Shoe Diaries, and Erin Moran before her career crash-landed. As the doomed members of an exploring space crew, they all have separate but equal roles.
In short, Galaxy of Terror is all about the monsters of the subconscious coming to life and for all intents and purposes murdering their host. In Haig's case (who, sadly, is among the first to go), it's the loss of his razor sharp throwing-star made of crystal which leaves him defenseless and seals his fate on the most inhospitable planet in space. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, tyrannical Captain Trantor (Zabriskie) holds down the fort with her skeleton crew — Englund, Moran, and best of all, everyone's Favorite Martian, Ray Walston. While she holds court (but not her tongue), the scouts exploring Morganthus find themselves divided and conquered (there's even a conquerer worm!).
Galaxy of Terror is a little-seen midnight movie or drive-in style exploitation gem that's definitely worth a look for its name cast and budding crew (pre- King of the World James Cameron was the second-unit director, and actor Bill Paxton was a set decorator). There are times throughout the film where it feels as though everyone's just going through the motions (surely, no one was deluding themselves about the kind of movie they were making), but for what it's worth everything is played straight and with as much gravity as might be expected from a serious drama of higher order. The death scenes and special effects are pretty impressive, too!
Galaxy of Terror, here on DVD for the first time thanks to the fine folks at Shout Factory, has been remastered in hi-def and is loaded with additional release material. While the videography is absolutely deplorable in the making-of interviews — the lighting is terrible, and the color timing is so shockingly bad that the director's face looks like a capuchin monkey's, and Englund and Haig (both of whom I've seen in person within the past 6 months) look ancient and haggard. It's really unforgivable to make the interviewees appear so — the rest of the doc is highly entertaining and informative. Haig talks about the infamous line of dialogue, while Englund regales with many stories about the cast and crew. Producer Roger Corman is interviewed for this all-new featurette, as is the good-natured and wry Zabriskie. Running nearly an hour 'Tales from the Lumber Yard' (referring to Corman's studio) never gets boring. The commentary features Actress Taaffe O’Connell (her story about the worm is NOT to be missed!), Makeup Artist Allan Apone, Prosthetics Fabricator Alec Gillis, and Production Assistant David DeCoteau. There are also liner notes, photo galleries, TV spots and trailers, plus a PDF of the script.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson