Galaxy of Terror is a 1981 science fiction/horror film produced by Roger Corman and directed by Bruce D. Clark. It stars Edward Albert, Erin Moran and Ray Walston. Produced by New World Pictures and distributed by United Artists, the film has gained a cult following of its own since the time of its release.
On a desolate, storm-lashed planet called Morganthus, the last survivor of a crashed spaceship is attacked and killed by an unseen force.
On another planet a very long distance away, two figures are seen playing a strange game. One, an old woman named Mitri, is identified as the controller of the game while the other, whose head is obscured by a glowing ball of red light, turns out to be an all-powerful mystic called the Planet Master. The two speak cryptically of things being put into motion, and the Master instructs one of his military commanders to send a ship to Morganthus.
Without delay, the spaceship Quest blasts off to Morganthus. Piloting the ship is Captain Trantor, a survivor from a famous space disaster that has left her psychologically scarred and unstable.
As the Quest approaches the planet’s atmosphere, it suddenly veers out of control and plunges toward the surface, crash-landing there. After recovering from the landing, the crew prepare to leave the Quest and search for survivors. The team has a psi-sensitive woman among their number named Alluma (Erin Moran). Both she and the surface team have significant problems with team leader Baelon, who is pushy and arrogant and totally unimpressed by Alluma's inability to detect any lifesigns whatsoever.
Making their way across the landscape of the planet, they eventually reach the other vessel. Entering, they find evidence of a massacre that took place. The rescue teams split into two and explore the craft. They find further evidence of something catastrophic having happened and, after disposing of the rest, take one victim back for analysis. Cos, the highly-strung youngest member of the team, despite being reassured by his seniors, becomes increasingly terrified by being on the ship and, a short time later, he is killed by a grotesque creature.
The crew discover that something from the planet pulled them down, and in order to escape, they must investigate. After some exploration, they discover a massive pyramid-shaped structure, which Alluma describes as "empty" and "dead". Their explorations of the pyramid lead to a series of exceedingly violent and deadly encounters in which a malevolent force causes several crew members to be dismembered, burned, consumed, raped or crushed to death by monsters created out of each person's unique set of fears.
Eventually, only two members of the team, Ranger (Robert Englund) and Cabren (Edward Albert), remain alive. Deep inside the pyramid, Cabren encounters the Master (Ray Walston), who has been masquerading as the cook onboard the Quest. The Master explains that the pyramid is actually an ancient toy for the children of a long-extinct race, built in order to test their ability to control fear. Cabren kills the Master for allowing his crew to die, but himself becomes the new Master.
- Edward Albert as Cabren, an experienced and cool-headed space veteran who is the film's main protagonist
- Erin Moran as Alluma, the ship's empath
- Ray Walston as Kore, the ship's cook
- Bernard Behrens as Commander Ilvar, the overall commander of the mission
- Zalman King as Baelon, the rescue unit's team leader
- Robert Englund as Ranger, one of the ship's crewmen
- Taaffe O'Connell as Dameia, the ship's technical officer
- Sid Haig as Quuhod, crewman and crystal thrower.
- Grace Zabriskie as Captain Trantor, the ship's troubled captain
- Jack Blessing as Cos, greenhorn space crewman
- Mary Ellen O'Neill as Mitri, companion and gamekeeper for the Master
Although released to little fanfare (and much ridicule) in 1981, the movie has gradually taken on cult status, largely due to its B-moviestatus and the personnel involved.
While known as being a "B-movie" king, Roger Corman has started the careers of many prominent Hollywood people with his films.Galaxy of Terror was one of the earliest films for director James Cameron, who served as Production Designer and Second Unit Director on the film. It was the second Corman film that Cameron worked as a crewman on, the first being Battle Beyond the Stars(1980). Working on a tight budget, Cameron's innovative film-making techniques came to the fore-front. In one scene, Cameron was able to figure out a way to get maggots to wiggle on cue by developing a metal plate onto which the maggots were placed, then ran an electrical current through the plate whenever filming began, causing the maggots to move energetically about. His ability to find low-tech solutions to such problems is reportedly what found him in the favor of Corman and eventually moved him onto more prolific projects. Cameron would later direct Aliens (1986), the sequel to Alien of which Galaxy Of Terror was largely inspired. Optical FX Supervisor Tony Randel, who worked with Cameron on Galaxy of Terror, notes on the Shout! Factory DVD release thatAliens, which Cameron helmed, looks a lot like Galaxy of Terror in many ways.
The commentary on the 2010 Shout! Factory DVD release (see below) includes R. J. Kizer, one of three editors of the film. Kizer reveals that the original version of this scene, which shows O'Connell's character 'Dameia' being raped and killed by a giant worm, was considered too sexually graphic by the Motion Picture Association of America film rating system (MPAA). The MPAA initially gave the film an X-rating when O'Connell's character, who had already revealed her fear of worms, is attacked by an enormous 12-foot long worm, complete with large tentacles and a maw. The initial writing of the scene had the worm stripping then consuming a topless Dameia, but producer Corman had promised financial backers of the movie a sex scene involving the actress, and decided to change Dameia's method of death to being graphically raped instead. (Corman, interviewed in the same commentary, stated that the character of Dameia as re-written had a fear of sex as well a fear of worms. O'Connell, in a separate interview with Femme Fatales magazine, interpreted that Dameia was frightened by her own sexuality and her secret desire to be overpowered and surrender control.) When the film's director, B. D. Clark, refused to helm the revised scene, and O'Connell balked at the full nudity then required of her, Corman directed the scene himself and hired a body double for the full nudity shots. The re-written scene then showed the character's terror upon being attacked giving way to forced sexual arousal as she's loudly driven to an orgasm so intense it kills her.
After MPAA's initial X-rating, Kizer had to make several tiny clips to the scene to get it released in the U.S. as R-rated. These mostly involved removing some of the more "rhapsodic, ecstatic" looks on O'Connell's face to de-emphasize her sexual submission, as well as some motions made by the monster that too realistically simulated sexual intercourse. Despite these small changes, most of the scene's sexually lewd intent remained intact and was too much to avoid being censored by some countries, who either required the scene be deleted or denied the film a release entirely. Later VHS and DVD releases in Europe and elsewhere contained the scene in its final, R-rated version. The clipped materials themselves were lost over time and are not included as part of the new DVD/blu-ray release.
The film was originally released on VHS and Laserdisc by Nelson Entertainment. Up until 2010, Galaxy of Terror did not have an authorized region 1 (North America) DVD release. There was a remastered and authorized Region 2 (Europe) Italian disc available from Mondo Home Entertainment released in 2006 which is now out-of-print. The lack of authorized discs for so many years has led to numerous unauthorized copies of the movie being sold online and elsewhere.
On July 20, 2010, Shout! Factory released Galaxy of Terror on Region 1 DVD and, for the first time, on Blu-ray Disc. The release also contains cast interviews and behind-the-scenes information on a variety of aspects.
- ^ "Review Flix". reviewfix.com. Retrieved February 5, 2010.
- ^ "James Cameron: Full Biography". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-13.
- ^ "Fangoria Magazine Issue #274, July 2008". fangoria.com. Retrieved June 25, 2010.
- ^ "Galaxy of Terror (IT-DVD)". dvdactive.com. Retrieved September 10, 2006.
- ^ "Galaxy of Terror (1981)". dvddrive-in.com. Retrieved June 10, 2010.