In the fall of 1981 a commercial aired on television for a movie called “Galaxy of Terror”. It was a horror movie set on some alien planet by the looks of the trailer. Since I had did not have access to a VCR and I couldn’t satisfy my space-horror urges with endless showings of “Alien“, I thought this might be a pretty good film. As it turned out I overestimated the quality of the film by at least ten orders of magnitude.
After a few phone calls back and forth to my friends Gene and Joe and some armor-piercing whining to my mom, it was arranged for all of us to go and check it out at the Mustang Drive-In the following Saturday night. I didn’t realize it at the time but a clue to the awfulness of this movie could have been had in the fact it was playing on a double bill with “Battle Beyond the Stars” for six dollars a carload at a run-down drive-in. I have never been known for deeply analyzing certain things though. I just wanted to see something really scary!
So on Saturday my mom drove three hyperactive thirteen year old boys to the Mustang in Roebuck. My mom was (and is) pretty liberal about a lot of things but I bet if she had any idea what she was taking a group of impressionable kids to, she would have called child protective services on herself. In the days before the Internet there was no way to really know much about a movie except from people who had seen it or from a newspaper review. I am certain that no one at The Birmingham News or Post-Herald would dare review this movie and no one we knew had yet viewed it. Which is probably a good thing as it allowed their sanity to remain intact. So armed with no knowledge of what we were about to see except for the commercial, we settled into a good spot and waited.
The first feature, “Battle Beyond the Stars” was pretty much utterly forgettable except for Sybil Danning in revealing costumes. Oh yeah, and it featured John Boy (Richard Thomas) from “The Waltons”. I can’t remember much about the plot and there is no real point in reading its entry on IMDB since it would kill off a few million brain cells that could otherwise be used for world peace or something. After what seemed like an eternity the credits rolled and we prepared ourselves to be as frightened as we were during “Alien“.
What we got instead was bad acting, bad sets, bad plot, Erin Moran (also bad) and WORM RAPE! We were becoming bored and restive until what is now a legendary sequence with Taaffee O’Connell. A woman who aroused much more than mild curiosity in adolescent boys. Unlike today when she only arouses the interest of the producers of “Really Scary Plastic Surgery”.
The lead up to this scene is that another hapless crew-member has a run in with something and during the battle is forced to cut his own arm off with something that looks like a crystal throwing star. Apparently because the point on one of the arms has broken off and is working its way up his arm towards his brain. I don’t know what he was worried about honestly. Given his decisions in the film up to that point it certainly couldn’t have damaged anything if it did penetrate his skull. Or perhaps I am being needlessly sarcastic.
A few minutes after “stumpy” is killed Taaffee comes across his severed arm lying on the ground with maggots crawling around on it. I am going to have to assume that they were some sort of hellish space-maggot because no maggot I have ever encountered is capable of doing what came next.
Taaffee leaves the scene, lost and frightened and calling for help in the time honored tradition of all attractive women with large breasts in these sorts of movies. The camera pans from her retreating derriere down to the maggot infested arm and we see that one especially hardy little fellow is growing. Quickly. Within a few seconds his bulk has obscured the frame, which is a great time for a cut back to Taaffee still wandering around in the semi-darkness.
Being veteran scary movie watchers we knew that Taaffee was going to encounter the ‘roided up space maggot and it would be her demise. So when she (seemingly) deliberately turned around to back down a corridor we were forced to stifle a yawns. Sure enough she backs right into a twelve foot tall, mult-limbed space maggot. This particular space maggot however doesn’t just grab her with a random set of “arms” and kill her though. It grabs her with a random set of arms and simultaneously pulls her underneath itself while ripping her clothes off with a few dozen other pairs of arms.
Interspersed with shots of Taaffee’s body becoming rapidly unclothed and covered in a thick slime, there are also shots of a hideous tube-like organ easily as large as a full-grown mans arm from shoulder to wrist. That organ is also puckering and making ghastly slurping noises from the end which suddenly resembles a penis from a freak show. Oh yes, it is indeed a penis or space-maggot analogue and now Taaffee, who is nude and slimed and underneath this beast has more reason than ever to deliver an Oscar worthy performance of horror, fear and some serious pain. She is the first woman in cinema history to be raped to death by a gigantic space maggot whose penis also doubles as a vacuum cleaner.
For an incredibly brief time we three boys were treated to a naked, glistening Taaffee O’Connell. That memory was erased completely and absolutely by the mind-searing horror of what immediately followed. For the first time that night there was absolute dead silence in the car as everyone present wrestled with their own personal thoughts and emotions over what we had just witnessed. As a way to silence rowdy teenage boys I cannot say that I recommend it, but it damn sure did the job. We remained subdued through the remainder of the film and well into the long car ride home.
Eventually we discussed the incredibly stupid and contrived ending and various other aspects of the cinematic trainwreck we had just witnessed. Conspicuously absent though was any mention of space-maggots. There are some people who actually enjoyed “Galaxy of Terror” apparently. I can’t say that I did and I am pretty sure I can speak for Gene and Joe as well. It was our first experience with something like that and it left an impression. Not a good one by any stretch of the imagination. We had to play through several hours of Atari 2600 games back at Gene’s house in attempt to kill the brain cells forming memories of that scene before we could even attempt to sleep.
Feel free to enjoy (or not) the infamous worm rape scene from Galaxy of Terror in the video below.
© 2012, Connor MacLeod. All rights reserved.