The Film (3.5/5)
Galaxy of Terror is part of the trifecta of pseudo epic science fiction films Roger Corman produced in the wake of Star Wars and Alien(The other 2 are Battle Beyond the Stars and Forbidden World). This film, and the later Forbidden World in contrast to Battle Beyond the Stars is more influenced by Alien than any other big budget science fiction at the time. It is not a deep film in any way, and is definitely a knock-off of the superior Alien. That being said the film stands well on it's own merits, and is a fun ride, as only Corman can provide. The film is only bogged down by it's slightly confusing, and off-kilter ending.
The film is grounded by a cast of genre notables including Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Dead and Buried), Grace Zabriskie (Wild at Heart), Zalmon King (Blue Sunshine, Red Shoe Diaries), and the mostly silent Sid Haig (Spider Baby, Foxy Brown, The Devil's Rejects). The film while thin on plot, is thick in blood. Galaxy of Terror is a gory film, featuring a lot of bloodshed, and even a bit of interspecies sexuality(the giant maggot rape scene is a classic!)
The film tells the story of the spaceship Quest which receives a distress signal from a being only referred to as the master. They follow the signal to a spooky planet on the fringes of the galaxy, and end up crash landing on the surface. Upon arrival they begin their exploration, and end up discovering a pyramid. Where the members of the crew must face their ultimate fears, and the body count begins to rise...
Shout Factory has presented Galaxy of Terror in a 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The film looks amazing, even on this DVD, and I can imagine looks even better on the Blu-ray release. There is a little bit of grain, but this gives the movie a more filmlike presentation. The audio is presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 track. This tracks is not quite up to the standards set by the video. The audio is fairly effective, but some dialogue sequences are difficult to understand, and I found myself adjusting the volume quite frequently throughout the running time.
Shout Factory are starting to become the Criterion of cult cinema, and these Roger Corman releases, really show that. Some of the prior releases recycled extras from earlier DVD's of these films, but seeing as how Galaxy of Terror has never been issued on DVD in the U.S., all the extras here were newly created for this disc.
The disc kicks off with a lengthy, but informative documentary called Tales from the Lumber Yard: The Making of Galaxy of Terror. The hour long documentary features interviews with much of the films cast and crew. The only real exceptions are the non-participation of Happy Day's Erin Moran, and the too busy working on a little flick called Avatar, Galaxy of Terror production designer, James Cameron. The film features an extensive selection of conceptual art and behind the scenes photos from the film.
There is also an audio commentary featuring 2 of the effects artists, and cult film director David Decouteau who got his start as a P.A. On this film. The disc is rounded off, with a series of trailers for other films in the Roger Corman's Cult Classics series, and an excellent set of liner notes from former Rue Morgue editor Jovanka Vuckovic.
Galaxy of Terror is not the most original science fiction film to come out of the 70's. It is an acknowledge rip-off of Alien, but may also be an influence on later sci-fi films like Event Horizon. The film is a fast fun ride, that does not overstay it's welcome. The presentation by Shout Factory is excellent, from the great transfer to the amazing extras. The only complaint I can throw at the film is the some what muddled ending, and the only problem with the disc is slightly murky audio. Regardless of these issues, I would recommend this film to cult film buffs looking to catch an excellent presentation of an under seen Corman produced film.
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