Classic Sci-Fi Movie: Galaxy of Terror

Have I mentioned that I’m a nerd lately? Have I mentioned that I’m an old nerd? Well, I am.  Why bring it up? It’s because I watched some old science fiction movies from the late 70’s and early 80’s this past weekend. Stuff I hadn’t seen before. B movie science fiction that leaned  further toward fiction than science.

Sounds like I’m about to review a movie, huh? I don’t plan on it as it would be unfair to review a movie that’s over 30 years old. Science fiction standards were different in the early 80’s and special effects have come a long way in those 30 years. That being the case, I would just like to point out a few things about this movie that brought forth a chuckle.

Watching this movie over the weekend was like sitting in one of the theater chairs on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I commentated, laughed, drank beer, then made more comments. Good times…good times.

Let me start with a brief synopsis.

On a desolate world a ship’s crew is attacked and killed by some sort of blood thirsty alien. In a more civilized part of the universe another ship is ordered to go to this world to find out what happened and rescue any survivors. The rescue ship arrives and they are picked off one by one in horrific ways.

Simple, huh?

Okay, my first chuckle came from the captain of the rescue ship, as Captain Trantor gets a little gung-ho for this mission and leaves before the crew can even be seated properly. It looks like the woman’s had waaaaay too much coffee, but the real problem is that a previous battle has left her physiologically damaged. That damage also made Captain Trantor the last person I’d ever want piloting anything. By anything I mean every mobile device that requires a pilot from the Death Star to a little red wagon. Anyway, the good captain gets her orders and notifies the crew that they have 30 seconds to strap in. One fellow even gets a human seat belt as he flops down on top of a co-worker for a bumpy ride as the ship breaks orbit. If that weren’t bad enough Captain Trantor decides to go into hyperspace as soon as she’s above cloud level.

Okay, I know it’s a rescue mission, and I know time’s important, but would five more minutes have made a difference? It’s not like they’re the lifeguards on Baywatch where they see someone drowning and just hop in the water to save them. These folks are going across the galaxy, out into the black. They’re breaking orbit and zipping through a wormhole or whatever they do to go into hyperspace. Blasting across the universe is a big deal. It’s not a simple drive across the street that could be done on a whim. Just think of the HR problems when the Human Seat Belt gets back and wants to file a complaint about the coworker she had to hold down with her arms and legs – though I don’t imagine he complained much.

It’s a bumpy ride, it’s a fast ride, but they make it to the storm torn planet and find the downed ship. They find that there’s no one to rescue. Most are dead, and the rest are missing. The goal at this point is to find the missing people.

I’ve got to warn you now, though I’m not sure that it’s required on a movie this old, but there’s gonna be some spoilers, so if you don’t want to know what happens you might want to stop reading now…

The rescue crew consisted of about 10 people, but there’s only a few that stand out. The first and foremost was Erin Moran, Joanie Cunningham from Happy Days. Another was Robert Englund, better known as Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street. Ray Walston is the third notable actor in this movie. I remember him from the old black and white series My Favorite Martian. Lastly is a fellow I didn’t recognize, and the only reason I am bringing him up at all is because he sported a Burt Reynolds mustache. I just knew he would be the one to save the day because how can you not be the hero with a Burt Reynolds mustache?

Okay, first group, which consists of almost all of them, leaves the ship. Everything’s fine except they’re wearing the biggest flashlights I’ve ever seen. Backpacks with automotive lighting gear. I think you could have grown marijuana under these things. It was an impressive display of illumination, but one of the most useless things I’ve seen in a science fiction movie. It looked like it could have held a tent, rations, extra air, a hammock, eating utensils, an extra set of clothes, books, a dvd player, iPad, etc., but all I saw were two lights that sat over their shoulders. Kind of an overkill if you ask me.

Getting past the flashlights now…

The rescue team gets to the ship and like any good Scooby-Do show they split into small groups to cover more ground. There’s one young man who’s scared out of his gourd and guess which odd numbered guy gets to go by himself into the bowels of the ship. Yep, the young fellow with urine stain on the front of his space suit. I’m thinking this was some sort of initiation or hazing, maybe they just didn’t like him. Whatever the case I bet he wished he would have packed some spare underwear in that flashlight backpack. As you can probably guess he’s the first to go down. If this would have been a Star Trek episode he would have been wearing one of the red shirts.

Seat Belt Girl croaked shortly after. I’m bringing this up because it was an interesting kill on several levels. A worm gets her. It’s a big worm, so it isn’t like she was devoured by a pin worm. Yeah, the worm was interesting, but what was really interesting is that I’m not sure how the worm killed her. It didn’t beat her to death, or bite her. Am I sure it didn’t bite her? Heck yeah. It just ate her clothes and left her all naked and slimy. Imagine one of those oil wrestling events between two women…only just use one woman. Anyway, there wasn’t a bite mark, scratch, or bruise on her whole body and I’m sure of it because you can pretty well see her whole body. Gratuitous nudity? You betcha’!

Maybe the worm was a moth larvae, living off a diet of fine fabrics…

Here’s the goofy thing though. When her shipmates find her the acting commander disintegrates her body with his laser pistol thing. Why? Hell if I know. She was in great shape for a funeral. I don’t even think he checked her vitals before he shot her. It was like he saw her laying there all naked and glistening and said, “Yep, she’s dead alright.” then friggin’ shot her. I would have at least checked her out. Makes me wonder if the acting commander even likes girls.

There was one big surprise for me in the movie, one thing I didn’t see coming. Joanie Cunningham’s death. I figured, considering she’s Richie’s little sister and has the Fonz on her side that she was a shoe in to live. Nope, she died, and did it in a bad way. There will be hell to pay when Author Fonzarelli finds out!

One thing that didn’t surprise me was Mr. Burt Reynolds Mustache turned out to be the hero of the day. Like I said, if you want to survive any late 70’s, or early 80’s movie just grow a Burt Reynolds mustache. It never fails.

I know it sounds like I’m complaining, but really I’m not. I saw an old science fiction movie and had a good time doing it. When you get right down to it that’s what movie watching’s all about.

I also watched the 1988 remake of Not of This Earth starring none other than Traci Lords! I’ll try and get to that one later this week as it made Galaxy of Terror look like premium science fiction. 🙂

The Haunted Brothel The Haunted Brothel by Bret Jordan


~ by bretjordan on July 16, 2012.

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