Twitter Plot Summary: A rescue mission goes horribly wrong as the crew of the spaceship Quest are bumped off by manifestations of their own fears.
Five Point Summary:
1. Does nobody think to secure all loose items when they lift off?
2. I wish he’d stop shrieking at everything.
3. Sid Haig hasn’t aged in 30 years, it seems.
4. Giant alien bug rape is not to be taken lightly.
5. So what just happened?
1981. In science fiction terms we received Mad Max 2, Escape From New York and Outland – not an overly auspicious year, all things considered, especially when you look at the rest of the science fiction movies released that year. Amongst them was Galaxy of Terror, a Roger Corman-produced adventure that ripped off much of the best bits of previous genre hits and combined them to form something far worse than the movies that inspired it. In many ways it’s very much like an early version of the movies churned out by SyFy these days, or even those films still being churned out by Corman to this very day.
Dressed in fetching brown sci-fi smocks and with set designs clearly made to replicate the feeling of 1979’s Alien (albeit with a fraction of the budget and talent), the crew of the starship Quest head off on a rescue mission to the planet Morganthus from which a distress beacon from an earlier mission is being broadcast.
Galaxy of Terror is yet another of those obscure science fiction stories that doesn’t really make much sense in the grand scheme of things, an exercise in obfuscation whilst attempting to appear like an intelligent science fiction feature. There are not many ideas at play – individual fears are manifested and ultimately kill off the crew one by one – but this simple premise is hidden behind needlessly OTT science fiction genre tropes. If there had been more of an attempt to simplify the sci-fi trappings and do something similar to Event Horizon released nearly 20 years later, Galaxy of Terror may have been a recommended viewing. Instead it’s a science fiction equivalent to the low budget silliness of Hawk The Slayer. At least the methods used to dispatch half of the crew are moderately inventive, even if again they borrow/steal liberally from other science fiction or horror movies released before this, and it still has the power to shock (besides the dated set design) – one scene in particular sees a female crew member raped to death by what appears to be a giant alien slug. I won’t lie, but I’m sure that’s a fear we’d all have, consciously or otherwise.
Sid Haig perhaps gets the most from the script by removing all of his character’s dialogue with the exception of one line. For the remainder of his time he stands resolutely mute, conveying a fait amount of intonation with a glance here, a raised set of eyebrows there, culminating with pained screams and anguished glances, of course. At the other end of the spectrum is Robert Englund who is wasted in the role of a junior member of the crew. Greater things awaited him, albeit mostly in the form of Freddy Krueger, but in Galaxy of Terror he has little to do and little to work with. His best moment in fact comes when he’s required to scream at himself, which in fairness to him probably didn’t seem much of a task. Still, some of the special effects are worthy of note – a young James Cameron cut his teeth in the effects department on this feature – but remains mostly forgettable to all but the most dedicated of science fiction/horror fanatics.