When Shout! Factory announced its ini­tial ros­ter of releas­es under the “Roger Corman Cult Classics” ban­ner, many Corman cultists were pleas­ant­ly sur­prised to see Galaxy Of Terror in the line­up.  It had nev­er got­ten much love in video for­mats despite a decent fol­low­ing amongst fans of vin­tage exploita­tion.  Many view­ers (Your Humble Reviewer includ­ed) became famil­iar with it via the old Embassy Home Video cas­set­te, which had a hazy, smeary look to it.  A good Italian DVD was released a few years back but most had to rely on DVD-R dupes of that old VHS tape.

Thankfully, Galaxy Of Terror gets a rev­e­la­to­ry redux on the new Shout! Factory disc.  It boasts a new high-def­i­n­i­tion, anamor­phic trans­fer that eas­i­ly sur­pass­es any pri­or pre­sen­ta­tion of this film:  Jacques Haitkin’s shad­owy cin­e­matog­ra­phy takes on a new clar­i­ty and the pri­ma­ry-col­ored light­ing used in key sequences real­ly pops off the screen.  The sound­track is pre­sent­ed in its orig­i­nal mono mix: the dia­logue and effects come through just fine and throb­bing syn­th score by Barry Schrader makes itself felt.

This new pre­sen­ta­tion also includes some top-shelf spe­cial fea­tures.  Things get start­ed with a com­men­tary track that includes actress Taaffe O’Connell (vic­tim of the film’s infa­mous, amorous giant mag­got), make­up effects design­ers Allan Apone and Alec Gillis and mod­er­a­tor David DeCoteau — who also served as a pro­duc­tion assis­tant on the film.  It’s not a scene-speci­fic track but it does offer a tremen­dous amount of infor­ma­tion about how the dif­fer­ent effects were achieved, includ­ing a high­ly detailed dis­cus­sion from both effects and act­ing per­spec­tives about the film’s leg­endary mag­got-hump­ing scene.

It’s a very live­ly track so it’s a breeze to lis­ten to and DeCoteau pep­pers it with enough ques­tions and guid­ance to keep it from rolling out of con­trol.  Fave tid­bits from this track include the rev­e­la­tion that the gore in the infa­mous explod­ing-head scene was Dinty Moore stew and a great tale from DeCoteau about how his crush on Edward Albert (thanks to his then-recent appear­ance in When Time Ran Out) led to him being cast as the film’s lead.

Even bet­ter is an epic, six-sec­tion fea­turet­te called Tales From The Lumberyard, which spends just over an hour chron­i­cling the mak­ing of Galaxy Of Terror.  It is com­posed pri­mar­i­ly of inter­views with cast and crew:  in addi­tion to the com­men­tary par­tic­i­pants, there are appear­ances from Roger Corman, stars Robert Englund, Grace Zabriskie and Sid Haig and oth­er effects men who worked on the shoot like Douglas White and Robert Skotak.  Best of all, director/co-writer Bruce Clark and his co-writer Marc Seigler get a gen­er­ous amount of screen time.

Said fea­turet­te was helmed by Michael Felsher and he does a fine job of weav­ing the dif­fer­ent anec­dotes into a skill­ful­ly orga­nized nar­ra­tive.  Each sec­tion deals with a dif­fer­ent aspect of the pro­duc­tion and all six offer a wealth of intrigu­ing behind-the-sce­nes infor­ma­tion.  The two seg­ments deal­ing with spe­cial effects have a bit of over­lap with the com­men­tary track but each still offers worth­while new infor­ma­tion and will leave view­ers impressed over how many tricky effects were achieved via prac­ti­cal, in-cam­era tech­niques.

It’s also worth not­ing that Clark and Seigler are very open about their mixed feel­ings regard­ing the project, which stem from hav­ing to make the com­pro­mis­es inher­ent in doing a com­mer­cial­ly-mind­ed b-movie.  Other high­lights from this fea­turet­te include Robert Englund’s mem­o­ries (he clos­es the piece with a hilar­i­ous anec­dote) and a fas­ci­nat­ing descrip­tion of the unusu­al tech­nol­o­gy and approach used to cre­ate the film’s shiv­ery musi­cal score.  However, the most inter­est­ing part may be a seg­ment where the par­tic­i­pants tes­ti­fy to the hard work a young James Cameron put in on the film — and the extreme amount of influ­ence he had on its visu­al design and effects.

And that’s not all:  also includ­ed are exten­sive image gal­leries that includ­ed on-set can­did pho­tos and tons of daz­zling pro­duc­tion design sketch­es, the­atri­cal trail­ers for Galaxy Of Terror and oth­er Corman/New World pro­duc­tions (includ­ing a trail­er for the film under its first release title, Mindwarp: An Infinity Of Terror) and even a PDF-file of the shoot­ing script.  Between the­se sup­ple­ments and the sharp trans­fer, Shout! Factory has assem­bled an impres­sive and lov­ing­ly-craft­ed disc for this neglect­ed exploita­tion gem.  Fans of space-schlock can buy with con­fi­dence: this is a keep­er.

Galaxy Of Terror

Galaxy Of Terror

When a team of astro­nauts land on a strange plan­et to res­cue a strand­ed space ship, they are soon attacked by alien crea­tures — phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tions of fears pro­ject­ed by their own imag­i­na­tions.






Galaxy Of Terror (Blu-ray)

Galaxy Of Terror (Blu-ray)

When a team of astro­nauts land on a strange plan­et to res­cue a strand­ed space ship, they are soon attacked by alien crea­tures — phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tions of fears pro­ject­ed by their own imag­i­na­tions.