Galaxina (US - HD)
Gabe takes a high definition trip into the stars with that sexy robot Galaxina...
The motley crew of the police cruiser Infinity is heading home after a long stint in deep space when they’re given a new mission. Now tired and cranky, they must journey to the alien world of Altar I and find the Blue Star, a mystical gem that holds unlimited power. Fortunately, the search for the Blue Star leads them to an outer space brothel full of alien women. Meanwhile, the ship's pilot, Thor, and the sexy robot Galaxina begin to fall in love.
It’s neigh on impossible to create a cult comedy on purpose, and even harder to spoof what makes movies cult. Galaxina (which pre-dates Mel Brooks’ super-dated Spaceballs) is a tease on the two biggest sci-fi films of the late ‘70s, Star Wars and Alien (which writer/director William Sachs refers to as hardware sci-fi rather than intellectual sci-fi), along with a few call backs to Star Trek, 2001 and Heavy Metal magazine. As expected it doesn’t really work, but it also isn’t a full failure.
Part of the flop is the fact that there have been other sci-fi spoofs since Galaxina, in theatres and on the television. Star Wars gags are just about the most overdone thing one Earth these days. Obviously this isn’t Sachs’ fault, and effectively he was ahead of the curve, which is admirable. Fault does lie with Sachs concerning his sense of humour, which is corny at best. Some of the corn is of an enjoyable variety, like that of early Mel Brooks or your randy grandpa, and some of the corn has been boiled to a tasteless mush. One’s tolerance of the film will likely depend on one’s tolerance of bad puns and turn of the century (the previous century) sex jokes.
What works greatly in Galaxina’s favour is cinematographer Dean Cundey’s colourful photography. Cundey, in case you didn’t know, is the man behind all of John Carpenter’s best looking movies, and though he perhaps overdoes the soft focus a tad, the cartoonish colouring helps to sell the pseudo- Heavy Metal look. At one point the heroes land on a planet with a special sun, and Cundey uses infrared film stock, which is a really cool touch. The special effects and make-up work don’t quite live up to Cundey’s high water mark, but are pretty impressive considering the budget and means, and add a bit of needed charm.
Galaxina is probably most famous not for being the first Star Wars spoof, but because it was one of only five films featuring actress Dorothy Stratten. Stratten was 1980’s Playmate of the Year, and was set up by Hugh Hefner to be the next big thing. Her tragic murder at the hands of her husband was chronicled in Star 80, staring Mariel Hemingway, the made for TV feature Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story, staring Jaime Lee Curtis, and by ex-lover Peter Bogdanovich (director of The Last Picture Show) in his book ‘The Killing of the Unicorn’. Galaxina is Stratten’s most substantial film role, and surprisingly enough she’s quite charming and shows quite a bit of range and comedic timing. She wasn’t just another pretty face.
I did happen to blind buy a copy of BCI’s Galaxina on DVD, and I also happened to have watched it recently. This HD DVD version is almost identical, featuring the same low-level noise, flecks of (mostly white) artefacts, and generally murky look. The advantage to the HD release is the brightness of Cundey’s candy coated lighting set ups and the lack of edge compression. The overall image is pretty soft, and the details fluxgate, sometimes within a single shot. I appreciate the folks that worked on the transfer not going overboard with the cleansing process, which can ruin the look of older films, but I unfortunately don’t see much reason for fans to buy the HD (1080i) version over the DVD version.
Remastering a Mono track into a 5.1 track rarely goes right, but this is about as wrong as I’ve ever heard. The centre and rear right channels are devoted to surround effects (left and right?) while the front stereo and rear left channels are all the same, mostly dialogue heavy. The DVD did not have this problem. Fortunately the original Mono track has been preserved here as well, it is sounds just fine. There’s a flatness to the compositions, and some of the vocal performances are wrought with reverb when unnecessary, but the overall clarity is fine and dandy. Sound effects and music meld well, dialogue is discernable, and distortion is minimal.
Extras begins with a commentary featuring writer-director William Sachs and star Stephen Macht. Macht is a bit like a dirty older uncle who cracks ‘hubba hubba’ jokes over the soft spoken Sachs’ informative chatter. Sachs talks about quite a bit of footage that was deleted from the script while filming because of budget constraints, and claims that this affected the pacing. That’s actually a pretty good excuse in my book. The timing of the track is a bit off, and there’s a bit of silent space, but overall the track is pretty consistent and entertaining. An audio interview with Sachs is featured on an additional audio track, which runs about an hour, but covers more or less the exact same ground as the commentary.
The disc also features about twelve minutes worth of ‘extended cut’ scenes, most of which would’ve just bogged down an already overlong feature. The scenes are anamorphically enhanced, but not presented in HD video. A collection of still galleries (including Fangoria and Starlog articles), and the original trailer are also included. Not included is the DVD releases’ booklet, which featured a brief bio of Stratten.
A cult classic, but not a very good movie, Galaxina has some charm, but isn’t really my cup ‘o comedy. I prefer the unintentional comedy of Starcrash. Fans with the original DVD release should be happy to know that this HD version doesn’t carry any additional extras, has a screwy Dolby Digital track, and doesn’t look that much sharper.
Images sourced from BadMovies.org.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 8th January 2008
Disc Type: HD DVD
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Mono English
Extras: Director/Actor Commentary, Director Interview, Stills, International Scenes
Easter Egg: No
Director: William Sachs
Cast: Stephen Macht, Avery Schreiber, J.D. Hinton, Dorothy Stratten, Lionel Mark Smith
Genre: Comedy and Sci-Fi
Length: 88 minutes
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