Galaxy of Terror
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Galaxy of Terror is a 1981 horror science fiction film produced by Roger Corman through New World Pictures and directed by Bruce D. Clark. It was distributed by United Artists. It stars Edward Albert, Erin Moran, Ray Walston and Taaffe O'Connell.
|Galaxy of Terror|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Bruce D. Clark|
|Produced by||Roger Corman|
|Written by||Marc Siegler &|
Bruce D. Clark
|Music by||Barry Schrader|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Box office||$4 million|
On a desolate, storm-lashed planet called Morganthus, the last survivor of a crashed spaceship is attacked and killed by an undead crew member. On Xerxes, 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 Ilvar (Bernard Behrens), one of his military commanders, to send a ship to Morganthus.
Without delay, the spaceship Quest blasts off to Morganthus, piloted by Captain Trantor (Grace Zabriskie), a survivor of 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; slowly the captain realizes she can control the ship as to its approach to the planet, but still plunges toward the surface and makes a survivable landing. After recovering from the crash, the crew prepare to leave the Quest and search for survivors. Among the crew is a psi-sensitive woman named Alluma (Erin Moran). She and other team members have significant problems with pushy and arrogant team leader Baelon (Zalman King), who is unimpressed by Alluma's inability to detect any lifesigns whatsoever.
Crossing the landscape of the planet, they eventually reach the other vessel where they find evidence that a massacre has taken place. The rescue teams split into two and explore the craft. The discovery of more victims all but confirms the occurrence of a massacre. The team disposes of all of the bodies except one which they take back for analysis. Cos, the highly-strung youngest member of the team, becomes increasingly terrified of being on the ship despite being reassured by his seniors. This is the first clue that it is the fear of the individual crew members that are manifesting to kill them. 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. While Trantor, Kore (Ray Walston), and Ranger (Robert Englund) remain on the ship, Cabren (Edward Albert), Dameia (Taaffe O'Connell), Quuhod (Sid Haig), Baelon, Ilvar, and Alluma explore the planet. They discover a massive pyramid-shaped structure, which Alluma describes as "empty" and "dead". They find an opening at the top of the pyramid and use a rope to slide Ilvar in; Ilvar is attacked by tentacles that drain his blood. They find an alternate entrance, though Quuhod breaks his crystal throwing stars and remains by the entrance. The throwing stars reform; when Quuhod picks one up, a piece breaks off and begins sliding through his skin, forcing him to sever his arm. However, his arm uses the remaining throwing star to impale him.
The crew continue to search through the pyramid. When Alluma voices a desire to leave, Baelon refuses to allow it. An angered Dameia wanders into another area and discovers Quuhod's severed arm being eaten by maggots. One maggot grows to giant size and proceeds to sexually assault and kill Dameia. Back on the ship, Ranger catches sight of Trantor on the security cameras as she spontaneously combusts. He races to save her, but by the time he reaches her, her skin has completely burned off. After discovering Dameia's corpse, they head back to the ship.
The remaining crew return to the pyramid. There, Baelon elects to stay behind and is torn apart by a monster. Meanwhile, inside the pyramid, Alluma, Ranger, and Cabren are separated by moving walls. Alluma is attacked by tentacles which crush her head, while Ranger is attacked by his double. He manages to fend the double off, and it disappears. Deep inside the pyramid, Cabren discovers that Kore is really the Master, who has been masquerading as Kore on board the Quest. He tells Cabren that he has "won the game." The Master then 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 is then forced to confront the creatures which attacked the crew as well as zombified versions of the dead crew, all of which he kills. Finally, Cabren kills the Master's previous host body, but as the master cannot be killed, Cabren takes his place. Cabren states that he will not play this game, and will simply leave the planet. Kore's dying words express doubt that Cabren will be able to change his fate.
- 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
- Taaffe O'Connell as Dameia, the ship's technical officer
- 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, the ship's second technical officer
- Sid Haig as Quuhod, crewman and crystal thrower
- Grace Zabriskie as Captain Trantor, the ship's troubled captain
While known as 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 on which Cameron worked as a crewman, the first being Battle Beyond the Stars (1980). Working on a tight budget, Cameron's innovative filmmaking techniques came to the forefront. 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 electric current through the plate whenever filming began, causing the maggots to move energetically about. His ability to find low-tech solutions to such problems reportedly made him a favorite of Corman and eventually allowed him to pursue more ambitious projects. Ridley Scott's Alien (1979) was an important inspiration for Galaxy of Terror and Cameron would later direct the sequel, Aliens (1986). Optical FX Supervisor Tony Randel, who worked with Cameron on Galaxy of Terror, commented on the Shout! Factory DVD release that Aliens looks like Galaxy of Terror in many ways.
Taaffe O'Connell and "the worm sex scene"Edit
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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 originally filmed version of the "Dameia" (O'Connell) character's death scene changed significantly as the movie was made. The initial writing of the scene had the maggot only stripping and consuming a topless Dameia, but producer Roger Corman had promised financial backers of the movie a sex scene involving O'Connell, so he merged the two ideas together. His re-write of the scene had Dameia reacting in terror when confronting the 12-foot long creature, an "id monster" created from her own mind complete with tentacles, but having the terror give way to forced sexual arousal as the monster strips and rapes her. The re-written scene included full nudity and far more explicit sexual content, including simulated sexual intercourse, and ended with Dameia moaning provocatively, covered in excreted slime, and being driven to an orgasm so intense it kills her.
After informing director Clark and actress O'Connell about the changes and having both of them balk at participating in the more sexually explicit scene, Corman decided to direct the entire scene himself. He hired a body double for O'Connell to shoot the full-nudity sex sequences, although O'Connell ended up in front of the camera for most of the final scene. The completed film was submitted to the Motion Picture Association of America film rating system (MPAA) for review. The sexual content of the scene was considered graphic enough by their standards that it was given an X rating, which was generally given only to the most sexually explicit films.
Kizer then made a number of very small cuts to the scene. In the interview, he stated that the cuts involved either very brief shots of O'Connell's face as her character expressed "rhapsodic and ecstatic" looks that too clearly indicated forced arousal and pleasure at being raped, or lewd "humping" motions made by the giant worm while the nude Dameia is ensnared in its tentacles underneath it, motions that obviously simulated sexual intercourse occurring between the two. None of these cuts were longer than one second in length and most only a few frames, and none altered the sequence of the scene. However, they were enough to avoid the X rating for the film. The visuals of the final released scene in film and VHS versions (later DVD and Blu-ray disc as well) combined with O'Connell's verbalization still leave no doubt as to what happens to the character; in fact, the scene was still too explicit for many countries, who either required it be deleted or denied the film a release entirely. All authorized later releases of the film in Europe, America and elsewhere contain the scene in its final, R-rated version. The X rated clipped materials themselves were lost over time and are not included as part of the new DVD/Blu-ray Disc release or any other release of the film. The film's trailer, which still exists online, shows what may be an unaltered view of one of the full nudity shots, containing a slightly different aspect than the one in the final movie.
The scene is discussed on the commentary of the Blu-ray Disc release more than any other aspect of the film. In an interview shown on the Blu-ray Disc, Corman stated that the character of Dameia as re-written had a fear of sex as well as a fear of worms. O'Connell, in a separate interview with Femme Fatales magazine, interpreted that Dameia was frightened by her own sexuality and a desire to submit to something more powerful than herself, something the monster created from her fears gives her to a lethal extent.
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.
The film was released in Germany in a dual Blu-ray and DVD uncut 2-disc Limited Edition mediabook from BMV-Medien Entertainment on April 19, 2012. The film was also released in Japan on Blu-ray from Stingray distribution on September 27, 2013 and contains the original English language version and a Japanese dubbed version both in Mono DTS-HD Master Audio and also includes Japanese subtitles.
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On Rotten Tomatoes it has an approval rating of 33% based on 12 reviews, with an average rating of 4.8/10. On Metacritic the film has a score of 38% based on reviews from 5 critics, indicating "Generally unfavorable reviews".
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