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Galaxy of Terror (1981) Review

Set deep in space in another time, a starship and its crew must attempt a rescue mission on the dark world Morganthus. After a rough crash landing leaves them stranded, it becomes a race against the clock to establish just what caused them to crash and why they can’t leave. In the process, they discover an ancient, alien structure and decide to investigate. Thus, setting the direction for the rest of the movie, which at its foundation is essentially an old haunted house horror, except this is a haunted planet.

This in my opinion is one of the better Roger Corman flicks to come out, the production values are pretty good going by b-movie standards (certainly of their time). There is definite, strong atmosphere of dread that permeates throughout. This is mostly created though interesting set designs, which remind me a lot of Aliens (1986). In fact, it’s worth mentioning that both James Cameron (Unit Director) and Bill Paxton (Set Decoration) were both involved in this movie, make of that what you will. The strong blue-ish hues of the alien atmosphere combined with the almost Aztec look and feel of the alien pyramid create a somewhat unique visual experience that I can’t quite say I’ve ever seen since, Aliens came closest.

The characters, whilst not being very dynamic, are a notch above the usual disposable hero or anti-hero types, and seem to stand out somewhat from the throwaway teenager types we see in most horror flicks today, I’d say this is especially true of Quuhod, Sid Haig’s character (the same Sid Haig who would later put in a memorable performance as Captain Spaulding, in Rob Zombie’s House of a Thousand Corpses and Devil’s Rejects) who brings a lot of presence to his character and the movie as a whole. Robert Englund (who would later star as Freddy Kruger) also puts in a decent performance, in fact the rest of the cast, including names like Edward Albert, Erin Moran, Zalman King (Red Shoe Diaries), Ray Walston, etc. There really is no performance that lets the movie down. Character Dameia (Taaffe O’Connell) has a very ‘intimate’ scene with a giant worm/ maggot type thing which has gone down as one of the most memorable scenes in sci-fi/ horror history.

Now, there are problems with Galaxy of Terror and in particular, I found the pacing to be somewhat slow and the storyline somewhat hard to follow. Apart from this, as long as you don’t expect too much from it you should enjoy, just remember that this is a b-movie that is over 25 years old. All in all, not a great movie but decent enough to be elevated above the usual b-movie crowd.

Movie Details

Director: Bruce D Clark
Writers: Mark Siegler, Bruce D Clark
Actors: Edward Albert, Ray Walston, Erin Moran, Robert Englund
AKA: Mindwarp: An Infinity of Terror, Planet of Horrors
Release Year: 1981