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HTF Blu-ray Review: Galaxy of Terror



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#1 of 7 Todd Erwin

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Posted July 20 2010 - 08:08 AM


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Galaxy of Terror


Studio: Shout! Factory
Release Date: July 20, 2010

Theatrical Release Year: 1981
Rated: R
Running Time: 81 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 widescreen
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles: None

Movie: 2 out of 5
In the early 1980s, Roger Corman was the king of exploitation films, with his studio New World Pictures churning out cheaply made knockoffs of hit movies.With the success of Ridley Scott’s Alien, Corman produced the very familiar Galaxy of Terror in 1981. A rescue team is dispatched to Morganthus to investigate why they have lost contact with the ship The Remus, or why it landed on the planet. While investigating, each member of the crew is killed in a way that is reminiscent of their own personal fears.

Galaxy of Terror has what would be considered today as an all-star cast, including Grace Zabriskie (Twin Peaks, Big Love) as the Quest’s pilot, Edward Albert, Jr. (Butterflies Are Free) as the heroic Cabren, Erin Moran (Happy Days) as empathic Alluma, Ray Walston (My Favorite Martian), a pre-Freddy Krueger Robert Englund, Sid Haig, Zalman King, Bernard Behrens (best known to Star Wars geeks as the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the radio dramatizations), and Taafe O’Connell as the film’s most famous character, Dameia, whose on-screen fate gave this film the cult status it may or may not have deserved.

At times, Galaxy of Terror is a disturbing film to watch, the deaths being extremely graphic, while the story is so unoriginal that it is obvious what the film is trying to cash in on (and Corman would cash in on the popularity of Alien many times over, including Forbidden World, which would even use some of the same sets and effects footage). What helps this film stand out, though, is the production design and visual effects, which were supervised by some guy named James Cameron, who never amounted to much of anything in the movie business.

Video: 3 out of 5
For a film nearly 30 years old, the 1080p transfer using the AVC codec is quite good. Grain can be problematic at times, but that is more likely due to the optical effects used in the film, as well as the high-speed Fuji film stock used during production. Occasional blemishes, scratches, and dirt are present, again likely inherent in the original interpositive. Colors are mostly consistent. This is likely the best Galaxy of Terror has ever looked, but don’t expect this to be of reference quality.

Audio: 3 out of 5
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track does its job, with good fidelity and intelligible dialogue. If anything, the track is too good, sometimes making the sound effects and music score sound cheesier than they probably did in theaters.

Special Features: 4 out of 5
Shout! Factory has loaded this disc with features that one would expect to see on a major studio A-list feature. All of the extras are presented in 1080p high definition using the AVC codec with DTS-HD Master Audio.

Audio Commentary with Taaffe O’Connell, Allan Apone, Alec Gillis, and David DeCoteau: Selectable from the Setup menu (and not Special Features), this is a very lively commentary track with actress O’Connell, make-up effects artist Apone, prosthetics effects artist Gillis, and production assistant DeCoteau. The team discuss working for New World and working with the many talents that have gone on to bigger and better things in the business.

Movie Trivia Facts by Brian Albright: Also selectable from the Setup menu, this is a subtitle track that runs during the film. Although most of the material is covered elsewhere on the disc, there are some tidbits only found here, such as the use of Fuji film stock and the reason it was chosen.

Tales From The Lumber Yard: The Making of Galaxy of Terror (1:02:54): This six-part documentary can be viewed in its entirety by selecting Play All or by selecting the individual parts. This is a fairly exhaustive look at the making of the film through interviews with most of the cast (Robert Englund, Sid Haig, Grace Zabriskie, and Taaffe O’Connell), producer Roger Corman, director Bruce D. Clark, writer Marc Siegler, production manager Aaron Lipstadt, production assistant David DeCoteau, cinematographer Jacques Haitkin, visual effects designer Robert Skotak, and several other members of the crew. A great deal of time is dedicated to James Cameron’s involvement in the film.

Photo Galleries: A selection of behind the scenes, background plates, storyboards, lobby cards, posters, and scrapbook pictures are provided in a slideshow presentation.

Original Screenplay: For those lucky enough to have a BD-Rom drive on their computer, the screenplay is available as a PDF file.

Trailers: Theatrical trailers and TV spots for Galaxy of Terror, as well as trailers for Humanoids From The Deep, Piranha, and Forbidden World. The majority of these are R-rated red band trailers, and are not in the best of shape.

12-page Booklet: What is sadly becoming a rarity in both DVD and Blu-ray releases, Shout! Factory has included a full-color booklet featuring production and promotional still from the movie, as well as an essay on the film by Jovanka Vuckovic.

Reversible Cover: Since Galaxy of Terror was also released under the title Mind Warr: An Infinity of Terror, you have your choice of insert covers.

Overall: 3 out of 5
Galaxy of Terror is a disturbing piece of sci-fi exploitation from Roger Corman, but its impressive (for its time and budget) production design and visual effects almost save it from being the grindhouse sleaze that it is. The special features are what elevate this disc, especially for film students and fans of cinema.



#2 of 7 Michael Reuben

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Posted July 20 2010 - 08:13 AM

Great review, Todd!


I actually saw this in a theater, because it just looked like the kind of shlock that would be entertainingly over-the-top. I wasn't disappointed. /img/vbsmilies/htf/biggrin.gif


And yeah, for the time, that famous death scene was a shocker.


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#3 of 7 Steve Christou

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Posted July 20 2010 - 10:13 AM

Thanks for the review. I remember this title from my video renting days. But this is not the one with Klaus Kinski. I always mix them up. There was another gory sci-fi out about the same time but I've forgotten the title. It was an Alien ripoff right down to the Ripley-esque leading lady.



Dave hören... auf, wille stoppen sie Dave... stoppen sie Dave... Mein gehirn geht... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin ängstlich Dave... Guter Nachmittag. Ich bin ein HAL 9000 computer. Ich wurde funktionsfähig am HAL-Betrieb in Urbana, Illinois auf January 12 1992.


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#4 of 7 Todd Erwin

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Posted July 20 2010 - 10:52 AM

As I noted in my review, Corman made a bunch of Alien knock-offs, including Forbidden World (my review of this title will be up later this week), but that's not the one you are thinking of, either. The film you are thinking of is very likely Android.



#5 of 7 Steve Christou

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Posted July 20 2010 - 11:53 AM

No it's not Android, I had a look at IMDB. The film I was looking for was Titan Find.


Dave hören... auf, wille stoppen sie Dave... stoppen sie Dave... Mein gehirn geht... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin ängstlich Dave... Guter Nachmittag. Ich bin ein HAL 9000 computer. Ich wurde funktionsfähig am HAL-Betrieb in Urbana, Illinois auf January 12 1992.


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#6 of 7 Kevin EK

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Posted July 21 2010 - 07:41 AM

Todd, thank you for taking this one for the team.  The trailer alone had me in a fit of hysterical laughter.  Took me back to the days of seeing classics like Great White and Treasure of the Four Crowns in a movie theater.  If you could can the expression on all those kids' faces in the audience of "What the HECK is this?  And how do I get my five bucks back???!!!", you'd have something...



#7 of 7 Todd Erwin

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Posted July 22 2010 - 02:57 AM

What is noteworthy about the trailer is that much of the footage is from Battle Beyond The Stars.


Josh Olson has a great commentary on the trailer over on Trailers From Hell, which got left off the Blu-ray (again).