Review: Galaxy of Terror

Robert Englund in “Galaxy of Terror.”

Dir. Bruce D. Clark. 81 minutes.

A spaceship is dispatched to answer a distress call on a distant planet. There, the crew finds a sinister alien pyramid populated by blood-drinking squids, rhinoceros-sized worms and other creepy-crawlies.

Recently remastered — for some reason — “Galaxy of Terror” occupies a strange middle ground between the atmospheric sci-fi of “The Thing” and “Dune” and the rubber-monster melodramas of the ’50s. Its drably industrial spaceship interiors look like something out of a TV show, and dialogue consists mostly of bellowed exposition. On the other hand, its interstellar setting is hauntingly bleak, portrayed convincingly through gloomy matte paintings and miniatures. Several soon-to-be-greats worked on the film, including James Cameron of “Titanic” and “Avatar” fame and Robert Englund, better known as Freddy Krueger. The raw talent of Cameron and others contributes to an unsettling atmosphere that makes “Galaxy of Terror” more involving than other schlocky killer-alien movies.

Also setting “Galaxy of Terror” apart is its sheer audacity: in one scene, a female crewmember is, shall we say, physically assaulted by a giant maggot. The filmmakers were forced to make numerous careful readjustments to the “maggot scene” in order to avoid an X rating. “Galaxy of Terror” doesn’t aim for the stars, but it does leave an impression.