A long time ago in a galaxy “Har-har” away: Galaxina (1980)
The Star Wars-style crawl gives us, the viewer, some quick exposition on what we are to expect, after it ends we watch an absurdly long ship slowly pass before our eyes, then the plot gets underway, where we have a hammy pseudo Darth Vader facsimile, some Star Trek pokes, an Alien gag, and of course, shots at everyone’s favorite space opera, Star Wars.
One might assume I’m talking about 1987’s Spaceballs (The movie, not the flamethrower), Mel Brook’s now legendary and much cherished send up of various sci-fi franchises. But I was actually referring to Galaxina (similarly a movie, not a flamethrower) from 1980, seven years prior.
Crown International Pictures was a B-Movie (perhaps C-Movie) assembly line from way back in the day, releasing content now to be found in large, cheap ‘Cult Film’ collections likely sold under the ‘Mill Creek Entertainment’ entertainment label. It was under Crown that Galaxina was released to theaters on June 6th of 1980. Juxtaposed with Spaceballs. which was produced under both Metro-Goldwyn Mayer and Brooksfilms, with a cast of well known comedians as well as Brooks’ solid cast of regulars, a tight script, and cleanly-shot production values, Galaxina doesn’t compare too well.
And yet, while it’s easy to bag on a now obscure parody film from the 80s, it’s also easy to point out what it does right, and it does get some things right, just not all the way through….
Premise wise, not a lot should have gone wrong here. Space travel in the universe’s setting (year 3008) is common, and multiple civilizations have been discovered leading to an excess of space traffic requiring the intergalactic governing body to form a space police force to regulate matters.
Enter our cast of policemen aboard the Infinity (that aforementioned absurdly long ship).
Sgt. Thor (Stephen Macht – Atlas Shrugged Part II, was almost Captain Picard), a lackadaisical, jaded male lead who develops affections, not to mention sexual attraction, for the ship’s resident gynoid.
Captain Cornelius Butt, (Avery Schreiber, the best Doritos commercials, ‘nuff said) the arrogant, bumbling commanding officer of the Infinity. He enjoys tormenting the Infinity’s one criminal inmate, a rock eating alien, by stoning him with his own ore based meals.
Buzz (J.D. Hinton – Jody Troxel, Mary Hartman 1979), a somewhat endearing bumpkin. Engineering is ran by a literal bat man alien in Maurice (Lionel Mark Smith – Dr. Jackson & various, Days of Our Lives 1996-2006), who, spends his free time playing cards with Sam Wo (Tad Horina – Swordmaster, Red Sonja 1985).
Lastly, but most importantly, is the ship’s gynoid, the titular Galaxina (Dorothy Stratten – 1980 Playboy Playmate of the Year), the main attraction – for obvious reasons – and the main character. Well, she is more the main character in the second half of the movie, as the first half is dominated by the antics of the Infinity crew who are attacked by one Ordric of Mordric (our parody Vader, suit worn by Ronald Knight, voice supplied by Percy Rodriguez), who doesn’t take kindly to the Infinity trying to pull him over in space.
From there, the simple plot becomes overly complicated by a script that has no north on its compass. It wanders from an Alien parody scene, to Thor trying to express his romantic feelings to Galaxina and getting shocked by the power flowing through her body, to a mission briefing about the mysterious ‘Blue Star’ (accompanied by angelic choir singing every time the name is said), to a whorehouse of extraterrestrials where some excellent creativity with make-up and costuming is on display, to Galaxina learning to speak (Android/Gynoids don’t talk apparently) and making herself physically compatible for Thor, to planet Altair One where there’s a knock-off Spock (“Mr. Spot” – played by David Cox), complete with the 1960’s Bat-mobile parked in the background, and a gang that worships “Ali David Son”, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, outfitted with sidecar, of course, as their god.
It’s a trip of a film, but also a hot mess all at once! Its story is lost in space, not in the good way, and there is a pretty obvious plot hole at one point that just about no one can miss when watching.
As a parody film, it is a moribund comedian at best. Much of the slapstick doesn’t work, and some of the witty one-liners fall flat. Schreiber has the best line in an exchange with ‘Kitty’ (Herb Kaplowitz in heavy prosthetics) the madam of the aforementioned space bordello.
Madam Kitty: Next time you pass my house I’ll appreciate it.
Capt. Cornelius Butt: I’ve had a wonderful time, but it wasn’t tonight…
Schreiber delivers it so convincingly that it takes a second to register, making it funnier than Hell when it does.
Regardless, the flick shines bright in it’s visual creativity. Galaxina is recharged in a special chair which glows blue when she sits down in it, representing her being energized, and it is a great piece of movie magic, likely done on the cheap. Ordric’s mask has lit up eyes, giving him a uniquely colorful, and menacing visage. The environmental presentation of Altair One is harsh and glaring with saturated, distorted colors, with the whole thing feeling quite otherworldly when they could have dialed it in with normal light exposure on a controlled set.
What Galaxina lacks in structure, it makes up for in creativity and presentation.
The film sums itself up well with the defeat of Ordric, who was also looking for the Blue Star (choir singing) as well. Thor and Galaxina hook up because “That (a vagina) is in the catalog”. When Thor asks about how they’ll have children, Galaxina replies again that “They’re in the catalog, too.” The rock-eating alien devours the Blue Star (choir singing) because it’s a mess of blue rocks, and we watch the credits roll after the crew has a good laugh about it. If anyone else was laughing, that is. I honestly can’t be sure.
All around, Galaxina is a silly, nonsensical good time. Director William Sachs braught out a serviceable performance from a very green Dorothy Stratten. On a sad note, Galaxina would be Stratten’s last film, having only five credits prior, and one posthumous credit. Stratten would be murdered by her husband, Paul Snider, on 14 August 1980, just a few months after the release of Galaxina, her only starring roll.
She was 20.
The beautiful Dorothy Stratten had so much more to offer the world, and it is heart breaking to know that we didn’t receive it because her life was cut tragically short. Give Galaxina a watch and see her be a badass female protagonist, steering the Infinity, and fighting the gruesome Ordric of Mordric.
You won’t regret it.
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