Galaxina – The 25th Anniversary Special
Picture: C+ Sound: B Extras: C+ Film: C+
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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