Friday, April 4, 2014

Galaxina (1980)

Movie poster with Dorothy StrattenParody of the sci-fi catalog is by no means a new concept, but 1980's classic Galaxina is a fantastic storm of pop culture, camp, and goofy dialogue. Not that there aren't notable merits. Film production in the first 60 minutes is well constructed, with a solid storyline inching toward an anticipated climax only to fall apart. This collapse can be attributed to writing, though the scenes are so disjointed and uneven one has to wonder if a good portion of the story ended up on the cutting room floor. As a parody, Galaxina draws from Alien, Star Wars, Star Trek, 2001, and Battlestar Galactica. Other pop culture elements appear sporadically, including two appearances of the Adam West-era Batmobile. Most significantly, the story does well investigating the love between man and sentient machine. Though not Fritz Lang's Metropolis, or even Cherry 2000, the film treats the subject with the decorum it deserves.

In the 31st Century Man finally created a machine... with feelings ! 

Steven Macht and Avery Screiber in Galaxina
This film does have solid moments outside of the goofy one-offs it delivers. The soundtrack is well utilized, including classics such as Richard Strauss' 'Also Sprach Zarathustra', used in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and audio segues drawn from Battlestar Galactica. One auditory running gag is the insertion of a heavenly, musical chorus, heard and questioned by the cast members every time the phrase 'Blue Star' is uttered. Toward the end of the film, there are even plot-driven alterations in the arrangement. 

The Inside Scoop

GalaxinaThe film's female lead, Canadian actress Dorothy Stratten, was murdered shortly before the premier of Galaxina. Stratten had left her husband to have an affair with Hollywood icon Peter Bogdanovich, and shortly after moving in with the director, was lured to her former home where she was tortured and killed by her estranged husband. "I could hardly believe that she really existed, that she wasn't a dream," Bogdanovich later said of their affair. "There was something miraculous about Dorothy Stratten." The actress had been named Playboy Playmate of the Month in 1979, and was about to receive Playmate of the Year for 1980. Stratten's story became fodder for the Hollywood mill, spawning two films, including the 1983 Bob Fosse flick, Star 80, starring Mariel Hemingway as Stratten, and Eric Roberts as her creepy husband, Paul Snider.

Worth Watching For...
Mr. Spot from Galaxina
The established protagonist 'Ordric' is dispatched in an odd banter-play with Stratten's character around a dead man's circular bed. This leads to the need for a gang of space-bikers to replace him as the film's tension vehicle. Unusual and confusing, but like a train wreck it is hard to turn away. There are several great one liner's in the film, most delivered by Avery Schreiber as Capt. Cornelius Butts. The film steps up a somber notch while paying  homage to Kurt Maetzig's 1960 film, First Space Ship on Venus.

Infinity Starship from Galaxina
At one point in the film, the crew visits an asteroid-based bordello, modeled by the filmmakers to be a combination Mos Eisley cantina and Miss Kitty's place from Gunsmoke. Foul-mouthed aliens, space marijuana, and well-written bad puns litter the space-ways behind the crew of the Infinity. Of particular note, the cinematographer shares the menu at the Human Restaurant with great care, slowly scanning over the wall-mounted boards to show every item available, including Black Bottom Pie and Baked Ala Skin.
 Movie poster, painted
Notable Quotable

Capt. Butts: I won't engage in a battle of wits with you. I never attack anyone who's unarmed.

Critical Stats
Bordello scene from Galaxina filmRock Eater from Galaxina filmGalaxina (1980) was produced by Marimark Productions. Filmed on location at the Paramount Ranch, CA. Written and Directed by William Sachs. Starring Stephen Macht, Avery Schreiber, J.D. Hinton, and Dorothy Stratten. US release June, 1980. Color. Run Time 95 Minutes.