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Weekly Alibi "Galaxina" and "The Incredible Melting Man"

By Scott Phillips

JUNE 29, 1998: 

Galaxina (1980)

Why is it that pretty much whenever you see a movie with a bunch of tinted sequences, you know you're in deep shit? I saw this inept send-up of Star Wars (amongst other films) in its initial theatrical run (believe it or not) and had pretty much forgotten anything that happened in it--until I ran across a used copy at Aron's Records in L.A. and felt compelled to drop the five bucks. About three minutes into it, I realized why I had forgotten everything. Galaxina was written and directed by William Sachs, the guy behind The Incredible Melting Man (see below!). While it's not as bad as it might be, if not for the presence of the ever-so-shapely Dorothy Stratten in the title role, the pain factor would be much higher. Stratten was Playboy's Playmate of the Year in 1980 and was later murdered by her estranged husband in one of those "if I can't have you, no one will" things (see Bob Fosse's Star 80 for that whole sordid story--and a truly disturbing performance by Eric Roberts). It's too damn bad--besides being incredibly easy on the eyes, Dorothy seemed to have some honest-to-God talent, and might've done some cool stuff (perhaps reviving intended beau Peter Bogdanovich's career at the same time). Avery Schreiber (was he the Frito Bandito or the Doritos guy? Maybe both?) plays Cornelius Butt, captain of the Space Police Cruiser Infinity. He and his crew, including the lovely robot Galaxina, are sent on a mission to the planet Altar 1 to bring back "the Blue Star" (which launches an endless and completely unfunny running gag). Along the way, we discover that crewmember Stephen Macht is in love with Galaxina, who can't talk and gives anyone who touches her an electric shock. After stopping at an intergalactic brothel (where long-in-the-tooth "Up All Night" star Rhonda Shear does that goofy '70s robot shtick), the crew goes into cryo-sleep. During the 27-year voyage, Galaxina (who has it bad for Macht) programs herself to speak and corrects that electric shock problem. When the crew is revived, she confesses her love for Macht, but before they can do anything about it, the ship is attacked by Darth Vader-esque bad guy Ordric from Mordric (who actually resembles the robot from the Bela Lugosi serial The Phantom Creeps). After crashlanding on Altar 1, Galaxina is sent out to retrieve the Blue Star on her own, because--are you ready?--the crew is all suffering from whiplash! Enter that sickly-orange-tinted footage we spoke of earlier, as Galaxina (clad in skintight spacesuit and thigh-high boots) does battle with Ordric and is captured by space bikers. After an action sequence that wouldn't have made it on "CHiPS," the scrumptious robot is rescued and the Infinity flies off into the sunset (as it were). The fruity thing is, while I was watching it, I kept thinking you could remake it with a more serious approach and maybe come up with something kind of cool. You gotta see it for Dorothy Stratten. (MCA)

The Incredible Melting Man (1977)

Have I reviewed this already? Jeez, I'm startin' to lose track. Somehow I conned my parents into taking me to see this when it was first released, and boy, they must've been miserable. This throwback to such "classics" as The Hideous Sun Demon and First Man Into Space features Alex Rebar (yes, the Alex Rebar) as astronaut Steven West, who begins to melt after he and his co-space guys visit the rings of Saturn. After leaping from his bed and eating half of his nurse's head, West begins wandering the countryside, pursued by Dr. Ted Nelson and his trusty Geiger counter. West (who hears astronaut sounds in his head) needs "human cells" to stay alive, so he spends most of his time devouring anyone he stumbles across, including a fisherman and two comedy-relief old folks who decide to steal lemons and pay for their crime--in blood! Seventies T&A star Rainbeaux Smith scampers around without a shirt until she backs into a dead guy's hand, which still manages to clutch half-heartedly at her well-turned ankle. In a great example of filmmaking expertise, writer-director William Sachs stages a scene chock full of expository dialogue on a moving platform that makes only slightly less noise than a battalion of chainsaw-wielding loggers in an aluminum outhouse, so we only pick up bits and pieces of stuff about Dr. Nelson's pregnant wife. But none of that matters anyway. This one also features plenty of squishy makeup effects by the legendary Rick Baker and a cameo by director Jonathan Demme (Caged Heat, Silence of the Lambs). Boy, did I get in trouble when I wore my T-shirt sportin' the Melting Man's sloppy mug (courtesy of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine) to school. Crappy, but a favorite. (Orion)

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