Galaxy of Terror (1981) – By Duane L. Martin

When the starship Remus crashes on the desolate planet Morganthus, the crew of the Quest is hastily assembled and sent to rescue any survivors.  Unfortunately for them however, they were forced into a crash landing, just as the previous ship had been, and now not only had to search for survivors, but also worry about how they themselves were going to get out of there.  There was a power source emanating from an alien pyramid that was keeping them there, and the only way out was to shut it down.  Unfortunately, they had to contend with something else they never planned on.  Whatever’s emanating from the pyramid is also bringing their deepest fears to life, killing them off one by one until only one crew member is left to face the final challenge.  If he fails, it means his death, but if he succeeds, he’ll inherit a power beyond imagination and become the new leader of his people.

Of the two Roger Corman releases from Shout Factory I’m reviewing this month (this one and Forbidden World), this one by far has the weaker story.  However, that said, it does have a more recognizable cast (Edward Albert, Ray Walston, Sid Haig, Erin Moran, Robert Englund, etc…) as well as a wider variety of monsters to pick off the crew.  So it’s kind of a trade-off, and each film as its merits.

One thing I really didn’t understand with this film however, was the whole deal with "The Planet Master".  He was the leader of the planet  and send the Quest to rescue the crew of the Remus.  There’s a scene at the beginning of him playing some crappy looking video game with an old crone who’s supposed to be an oracle or a prophet or something, and the game helps them determine what the future holds.  Let me tell you something.  If that game determines the future, then you don’t have to be a prophet to see that the future must be pretty damn crappy.  Maybe all this disaster and death could have been avoided if they had played Frogger or Donkey Kong instead.

In any film like this, certain members of the crew are more expendable than others.   It’s also true that when you give your entire cast "space names", it makes it harder to remember who’s who, so you end up just mentally knowing who’s who simply by appearance rather than by name.  This is fine really as their names aren’t all that important.

Many of our readers will most certainly know Sid Haig.  In this movie he plays a burly member of the crew named Quuhod (see what I mean about the names?) who I actually started thinking was a mute, because all he ever did up to a certain point was to make this hand sign that starts out with and open hand, perpendicular to the face that then closes slowly into a fist.  Not sure what it was supposed to mean exactly, but it became a joke and a source of amusement for my wife and I as we watched the film.  Eventually he did talk however after his giant crystal throwing star things got shattered after he stupidly buried them into a door in an effort to keep it from closing.  After that, he sort of turned into a little bitch.  He must have been pretty tough though, because at some point right before he died, he cut off his own arm with a big knife…in one stroke!

We’re used to seeing Sid Haig in films like this, but Erin Moran (Joanie from Happy Days) was rather a surprise for me.  She plays a psychic named Alluma who was basically about as useful as a turd in a punchbowl to their team, but she did serve as the love interest to Cabren (Edward Albert)…and that’s about it.  Every time she said she sensed something, the team leader wouldn’t listen to her.  The rest of the time she just walked around all scared.  Still, it was kind of cool to see her doing something outside of the Happy Days / Joanie prison she had been trapped in.

The monsters in the film were great, and very typical of the kinds of monsters you’d expect to see in a Corman film.  There were several, but my favorite one had to be the giant maggot.  Why?  Because it stripped off the clothes of a female crew member,  had maggot sex with her and then left her slimy and dead on the floor.  Now where they dropped the ball on that one is that they could have had her get pregnant and then have her stomach burst open with tons of maggots, but that didn’t happen.  What did happen is, she was found dead and her body was vaporized by a fellow crew member with a ray gun.  Still, it was a pretty crazy scene.

All in all, even though the story is both confusing and at times feeling like it’s lacking in direction, the movie taken as a whole is actually pretty enjoyable.  I personally liked Forbidden World better, but if you want to see some cheesy, early 80’s sci-fi, you really can’t go wrong with either film.

This Shout Factory release has been completely re-mastered and includes tons of special features, including commentary, featurettes, interviews, trailers, photo galleries, and a LOT more.  It also has something I’ve never seen provided before on a DVD.  It has the original screenplay provided in PDF format.  It also has a reversible cover featuring the film’s alternate title and poster (Mind Warp), and a great booklet with lots of fun information about the film.

Again, Shout Factory has really gone all out on their releases, and in my opinion, they’re tops on the market right now in terms of quality and value for money.

If you’d like to grab yourself a copy of this film, you can get the DVD or Blu-Ray release from the following links.

Galaxy of Terror (DVD)

Galaxy of Terror (Blu-ray)