While everyone else has gone to see Alien: Covenant, I decided I’d rather watch shitty Alien knockoffs than watch shitty movies in the Alien franchise. Not only do I not want to see where the xenomorphs came from, I simply do not care. There is no origin story they could tell that would benefit the franchise, full stop. Lovecraft’s “fear of the unknown” quote and all that.
Yet I’ve been jonsing for the atmosphere of Alien. What else could I do but hit up Wolfman Mike for some cheap Alien knockoffs? Boy, did Mike deliver. Up first is a movie that stars Joanie from Happy Days, Freddy Krueger and, according to some, a Martian of some renown. We’re talking about Roger Corman’s Galaxy of Terror!
First off, let’s get it out of the way: That. Fucking. Poster. It’s pretty wild. It’s not exactly good, definitely dated in a sexist kind of way, but it is memorable for all the wrong reasons. That assessment might be a better reflection of the movie than the artwork itself, which has nothing to do with anything that happens in the movie.
So what the hell is going on in this thing? I’ll do my damndest, but I warn you, this movie is fucking weird and I’m a bit fuzzy on the details. Mike suggested I have something to drink ready and I’m not one to ignore the doctor’s orders. What you have is a bunch of people going to a planet where another group of people went missing because, hey, that always ends well for everyone. The crew get picked off one by one, but unlike Alien, everyone gets killed by a different monster. There’s some really out there reasons why and some stuff with a guy with a glowing red face, but I’ll leave that for you to discover should you choose to watch it yourself.
There’s two things that make Galaxy of Terror standout from being just an Alien ripoff. First? Future Aliens James Cameron served as production designer. This movie looks way better than it should, and he, along with some other talented dudes I recognized from Escape From New York, is why that is.
For as big of a name as James Cameron is, his involvement is not what Galaxy of Terror is known for. Oh no, that would be too simple. Did you think that Alien was too subtle with how it’s about rape? Don’t worry, Roger Corman has you covered. There’s only one way to say what this movie is really known for:
A woman is raped by a giant maggot.
You read that correctly all three times you read it. It’s just as terrible, offensive, and bizarre as it sounds. The story is that Corman suddenly demanded there be a rape scene, the writer and director just about walked out over it, but decided to try and make it fit with what they were doing. Once you do figure out what’s going on towards the end, sure, it makes as much sense as it can, but it’s still pretty bad. Did Corman want to capture some of the rape overtones of Alien or was he just a sleazy creep? A bit of Column A and Column B? Who knows.
Make no mistake, this is most certainly an Alien cash-in. And while it had a bigger budget than most of Corman’s productions, it’s still cheap. The last act is pretty much a mess and despite the bar being set pretty high by someone get raped by a giant bug, I could still call the ending really fucking strange. But can I call it bad? Not really. As I said, it looks great. The cast, which includes Erin Moran, Robert Englund, Ray Walston, and Zalman King, is competent and nobody is coming across like they don’t want to be there. While it may not have been executed as well as it could have been, the concept it runs on is more ambitious than the film it’s cashing in on. It is one odd flick, and the rape part is unfortunate, but you could certainly do a lot worse, like Prometheus for example.