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Review Galaxy of Terror (1981): Definitely worth it!

genre: science fiction, horror

Galaxy of Terror is being typed as an alien rip-off. While there certainly are some similarities, this is not entirely fair since the film does go into a completely different direction. If anything, the film can be seen as the inspiration for Event Horizon. But yes, the film also was an inspiration to Aliens which is no surprise since James Cameron worked on this film as Production Designer and Second Unit Director. And to prove the world is quite small, Bill Paxton worked as a set dresser. The involvement of Robert Englund, and Sid Haig also can't be understated. Did I already mention that this little film was produced by Roger Corman? 

Some article defined Roger Corman as The Master of Low Budget Filmmaking. I definitely agree. I have seen several films of his in my life and always wondered how he managed to do so much with so very little. While at times you could clearly see there wasn't a big budget, at the pivotal moments he delivered the money shots. And boy, Galaxy of Terror has a few of them. Think bloody and gory deaths, a tentacle porn (softcore) and unmistakable Lovecraftian horror to boot. By now you must be thinking to yourself, hang on, tentacle porn? Yes, I was as surprised as you are. Dameia, played by Taaffe O'Connell, has a fear of maggots. I don't think she is the only one regarding those. Anyway, one of these maggots gets transformed into a giant worm with all kinds of arms and tentacles. While at first it seems like she is being crushed under its weight. The movements of the tentacles seem to suggest something else. She is getting raped. One could argue whether this act turned into enjoyment and pleasure for her, and she died of a heart attack, but still, to die like this is quite the WTF moment in the film. Fun fact. This scene was too much for director Bruce D. Clark so Corman himself had to step in and direct this sequence. Of course if you read this you might think that this death is horrible. Well, it is and it isn't. The scene is out there but tasteful and erotic. Think of this what you will, but I will stand by this statement. This coming from someone who doesn't like sex scenes in conventional films. Most of them are awful and meaningless.

I liked that most of the cast took events seriously, except maybe Grace Zabriskie, although in her case it works in the favour of the film, so it's a good thing she didn't play it straight. Of course, there are some silly moments that detract a little from the seriousness they were going for. I mean, Haig plays a character maybe personifying someone from an indigenous culture who states that he will live and die by the crystals. These crystals are weapons which are supposedly to be super strong. I don't think the special effects department got the memo on that since they look like objects that will crumble the moment you touch them. Incredibly goofy, yet I ate it up since I understood the intention.

The ending and the explanation for events is a little weak to be honest, but kudos for taking the effort, since most filmmakers wouldn't even bother. I think the latter would have made it a little better, but it's not that big of a deal, since the overall viewing experience definitely is worth it.

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