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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Comedy > Satire > Fantasy > Galaxina – The 25th Anniversary Special Edition DVD

Galaxina – The 25th Anniversary Special Edition DVD


Picture: C+     Sound: B     Extras: C+     Film: C+



It was 1980 that brought us a certain peak of wacky filmmaking.  One side of it was from counterculture comedy filmmakers and the other was from sexually explicit cinema.  Both would soon be doomed by running out of steam, The Reagan Era, big-budget films, AIDS and home video, but event he cheapest films from the time have a new interest and life to them and 25 years later, William Sachs’s Galaxina did the most with its budget and came up with interesting (if not always successful) results.


The main attraction is the breakthrough role that might have been for the beautiful model and Playmate Dorothy R. Stratten, who plays the title character of a robot in the 31st Century who is a breakthrough model because it knows love and feelings.  Of course, her sick, controlling boyfriend murdered her before the film’s release and the rest is history.  Surprisingly, she does not have as much screen time as expected and her character is underdeveloped, but then so is Sachs’ screenplay.


The film wanted to be a combination of John Carpenter’s Dark Star and Howard Ziehm’s Flesh Gordon (reviewed elsewhere on this site), but did not work as well as either, then could not compete with the Mike Hodges’ serio-comic Flash Gordon film that came out the same year.  1980 was also the year of the Penthouse wreck Caligula and Nancy Walker’s disco musical Can’t Stop The Music with The Village People, so you knew something had to give.


In Galaxina, she is among the crew of the space ship Infinity (now open to compact car jokes, the ship looks like a reptilian penis intentionally, for whatever reason) going home for a break from their stressful missions, when they are suddenly reassigned midway to go to the planet Altar 1 and get the valued Blue Star gem.  It has immense powers, like a sort of Man With The Golden Gun Solex to an umpteenth power and then some.  The very name causes Mel Brooks-like breaks of soundtrack music characters are supposed to hear to be heard.


William Macht is the lead guy and J.D. Hinton is the goofball, but Avery Schreiber was another attraction because he was known as a great comic actor from a series of TV variety and game shows, as well as situation comedies (Get Smart, That Girl, Love American Style, Alice, Chico & The Man), dramas (McCloud, The Rockford Files) and his own show in 1973.  He had done a few feature films and this was the film that was make or break for him on the big screen.  Fans were very disappointed and he rarely showed up in features again.


Sachs did the underappreciated and still-bashed Incredible Melting Man earlier in 1977, so he was a logical choice to do something different.  The film is out to mock Lucas’ epic even as Empire Strikes Back was due and even takes a shot at Ridley Scott’s classic Alien (reviewed elsewhere on this site) the year before (showing how fast this was written up) as Schreiber coughs up a creature that begins to think he is its mother.  Scott responded to the title character of this film with Darryl Hannah’s deadly replicant Pris in his 1982 Blade Runner soon after.


With that said, the film even has a bad Darth Vader/Black Hole villain, cannibalism jokes when they might have been more shocking and some interesting production design for its age.  This includes glowing white chairs meant to evoke the 1978 Superman - The Movie that still look better than the Bryan Singer’s all HD shoot of Superman Returns trying to sport the same look in shots.  The result is a mixed bag that has actually appreciated in value in unexpected places, stayed bad or become worse in others and makes us realize we lost a potentially big star in Stratten no matter what else can be said about the film.  That alone is always reason to give Galaxina a second look, though Sci-Fi and genre fans have new reasons to add after that.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image was shot by John Carpenter’s cinematographer of the time, Dean Cundey, making sense in part sense Carpenter’s Dark Star was being thought of here.  This includes the old and dated-on-arrival photochemical visual effects with amusing model work and other wacky camera tricks.  Though the print can have detail issues and show its age, the color is pretty good and offers one feature in particular that is ahead of its time.


Way too often these days, filmmakers and videomakers get carried away with making their frames one color, but this is down by cheap, tired digital means that are usually awful-looking and are just pretentious 99% of the time.  When we see that in several scenes where monochromatic colors signify another world, note how rich the color is, yet how much clearer the frame is in depth and detail.  Mind you, that is on this older film and this still looks far superior to the current digital equivalent at its best.  In the old Science Fiction works, infrared film would be used to show another world, while this did the trick in color.


You can still find flaws here and there, but Cundey shot this to be seen on a big screen and some of that was supposed to get some laughs.  As compared to the Mel Brooks’ later Star Wars send-up Spaceballs, it more than holds its own.  BCI has announced and delayed that this would be one of their initial titles in the new HD-DVD format.  If and when that edition comes out, it will be interesting to see the differences and we will cover it if possible.


For a film that as an optical monophonic release, sonics may not be perfect for these new Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 mixes, with the source material showing its age, but it is a warm, full, ambitious upgrade that puts many 5.1 mixes today to shame in their weakness and lack of use of the channels.  It brings back how good those tracks could be and keeps the quirkiness of the score in tact, including obvious recycling of sound effects from other Sci-Fi shows and films.


Extras include an audio interview with Sachs, audio commentary for the film where Sachs is joined by star Stephen Macht, four stills/storyboard galleries, DVD-ROM accessible articles on the film from Starlog and Fangoria Magazines in their early days & two screenplays that are all printable, a six-page foldout inside the DVD case about Dorothy & the film, the original theatrical trailer and additional footage form the international prints that have their moments.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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