Monday, 8 September 2014

Sci-Fi September: Galaxina (1980)

As has happened so many times before, and undoubtedly will again, I found myself smiling as a movie ended, yet also worried by the fact that I knew I was overlooking a lot of major flaws. But sometimes movies grab you like that. Critics can write all the words they like about what they view as good or bad in various movies, and I tend to stick to that approach whenever possible, but sometimes you react to things in a more basic, slightly irrational, way.

The basic story concerns a spaceship charged with keeping peace and order in a section of space. It's basically a big, floating police station, complete with prisoners being held in cells, and things look set to get more dangerous for the crew when they're charged with recovering a mysterious gem, known as the Blue Star. Thankfully, they can use the lifelike robot, Galaxina (Dorothy Stratten), for some of the more perilous obstacles that might be in their way.

Written and directed by William Sachs, this is a sci-fi comedy that feels very much like a mix of Dark Star and Red Dwarf. It's a low budget film, and does very little to hide that fact. In fact, it almost revels in its cheapness, without ever seeming lazy or completely inept. And I know that people will be rushing to tell me that I'm wrong, that the film is almost completely inept, but I'll still refute that charge. It works. It works for me, and that's all that I need sometimes.

Dorothy Stratten is the real star here, although her character seems to start off as a very minor player in the grand scheme of things, and she does fine with her role. She's not asked to stretch herself too far, no innuendo intended, but she does end up in most of the scenes that make up the second half of the movie. Stephen Macht is the secondary character, a man who may or may not fall for Galaxina's charms. J.D. Hinton and Avery Schreiber play other main characters, and both make a good impression, more thanks to the material than their performances.

There are also crude, cheap, alien creatures, some sexual tension and innuendo that wouldn't be out of place in any Carry On . . .  movie, and some weird interludes that feel like they've been spliced in from Hair outtakes. Am I selling this to you yet? Probably not. But this is not the type of movie that I'm going to try to sell. It is, instead, the type of movie that I simply love without reason. Any sci-fi comedy that's cheeky enough to include "Also Sprach Zarathustra" while having a budget that wouldn't cover the catering budget for 2001: A Space Odyssey at least deserves a few brownie points. The fact that it then goes on to reference so many other works that it really shouldn't be reminding you of just made it all the more endearing to me.

Do not take my word for it. Seriously. This is a film that most people will probably end up hating. But I liked it. I REALLY liked it. At this point, a better writer might be able to make the case for this movie in a more convincing manner. I am not that writer. But give it a watch anyway. At least you'll have someone to blame if you end up feeling like you just completely wasted 90 minutes.


Galaxina is one of many sci-fi delights in this great boxset -

You can help me justify my OCD by either using all links here to visit Amazon and buy whatever takes your fancy or, better yet, popping along to pick up my Movie Guide in e-book form.

The UK version can be bought here -

And American folks can buy it here -

As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.

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