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Galaxina/The Crater Lake Monster

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    Ian Jane
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  • Galaxina/The Crater Lake Monster



    Released by: Mill Creek Entertainment
    Released on: 3/22/2011
    Director: William Sachs / William R. Stromberg
    Cast: Stephen Macht, Avery Schreiber, Dorothy Stratten / Richard Cardella, Glen Roberts, Mark Siegel,
    Year: 1980 / 1977
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movies:

    A high definition double feature of Crown International drive-in doozies? You bet. Mill Creek offers up Galaxina and The Crater Lake Monster on one disc at a fair price - here's how it plays out:

    GALAXINA:

    A film that likely would have been forgotten and left to languish in B-Movie Hell were it not for the presence of Dorothy Stratten (Canadian born 1980 Playboy Playmate of the year and an unfortunate murder victim, killed by her husband Paul Snider that same year). Made at a time when the sci-fi craze that Star Wars kick started was still in full swing, the film is set in the future and follows the exploits of a police spaceship and its crew, lead by Captain Cornelius Butt (Avery Schreiber). After about thirty minutes or so of wacky high jinks, the crew are given a mission to go and find the missing Blue Star - they have to go find it and the trip is going to take about twenty-seven years.

    Everyone on the shop, including hunky pilot Thor (Stephen Macht), is put into suspend animation and the ships ridiculously hot female robot, Galaxina (Stratten) is left in charge of piloting. She falls in love with Thor and things get complicated. Along the way a smart mouthed black mechanic spouts of bad one liners, we're subjected to the worst Alien parody you've ever seen, and a Vulcan named Mr. Spot shows up for some reason.

    Fairly horrible by any standard you'd care to apply, Galaxina is not without its screwy charm. Full of bad racial humor (not bad as in offensive, though to some it may be, but bad as in just not very funny) and forced references to better and more interesting sci-fi films of the time, it plots through its running time about as inefficiently as a movie can. Yet, it's dumb enough to be interesting and the stories surrounding it are bizarre enough to, if not make up for its awfulness, at least add to its cult appeal.

    The story of its beautiful starlet, who actually does a fine job of playing a sexy robot here, is a tragic one. As stated, her husband murdered her in 1980 before committing suicide himself, both were found dead from shotgun wounds. As her star was on the rise and a mainstream career seemed to be a sure thing after her success in Hugh Hefner's famous girly mag, her life was snuffed at the age of 20. A few TV movies were made (one of which cast Jamie Lee Curtis as Stratten) and songs were written that referenced her (by the likes of Bryan Adams and The Red Hot Chili Peppers) and her life and career became a bizarre pop culture footnote. Stratten had been cheating on Snider, who was a fairly unsavory character, with none other than Peter Bogdonavich who cast her in They All Laughed, a film that the studios sat on and didn't release until 1981 at which point Bogdonavich bought it back, released it himself and lost his shirt.

    At any rate, with that said, Galaxina is a horrible film but it's one worth seeing for anyone with an interest in cinematic cult oddities, which it certainly qualifies as. Good? No, not by any stretch, but rather interesting in its own horrible, super cheap drive-in sort of way.

    THE CRATER LAKE MONSTER:

    The one and only directorial effort of William R. Stromberg (who would make up for it by siring Robert Stromberg, one of the most in-demand special effects guys in Hollywood today), 1977's The Crater Lake Monster takes place in Crater Lake, Oregon. It wasn't shot there though, it was shot in California but you probably won't notice unless you're overly familiar with Crater Lake.

    At any rate, when the film begins, a team of scientists lead by Doctor Richard Calkins (Bob Hyman) are digging around an abandoned mine that was once an Indian cave. They're stoked to come across some cave paintings that show people fighting dinosaurs and declare that this is all the proof they need to convince the scientific community that dinosaurs were around a lot longer than everyone seems to think. Their time in the cave is cut short when a meteorite lands nearby and causes a disaster - but they make it out alive and the next day head to the lake where the meteorite landed only to declare the water too hot to be able to conduct their research in.

    What they don't realize is that the warming water has acted as an impromptu incubator for a prehistoric dinosaur egg trapped for centuries at the bottom of the lake. Before you know it, a creature that looks very much like the Loch Ness Monster is zipping around the lake snacking on tourists and making things difficult for a pair of guys running a boat rental business named Arnie (Glen Roberts) and Mitch (Mark Siegel, who would go on to be a renowned effects artist in the eighties). Thankfully, tough guy Sheriff Hanson (Richard Cardella), who drives a giant green station wagon, is on hand to sort things out - that is, if he doesn't get shot by the guy who just randomly robbed the liquor store in town.

    Chock full of bad acting, bad directing, bad editing and bad storytelling, The Crater Lake Monster is actually pretty watchable if you're in the right frame of mind. If you don't take it too seriously it's a fun (albeit very poorly made) monster movie and the stop motion effects work courtesy of David Allen (who would go on to work on The Gate and a bunch of Charles Band movies, and who cut his teeth on the awesome 1971 film Equinox) is genuinely cool. The rubber monster effects that are spliced in to certain parts don't hold up nearly as well but Allen's work here is definitely solid and has a lot of charm and quirk to it.

    The film flopped but found a cult audience on home video where it was marketed using some great Frazetta style cover art by United Home Video which Mill Creek have wisely used on the cover of this release as well. Nobody in the film can act worth a damn but when there's a giant stop motion dinosaur running around eating things you won't care so much.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Galaxina is presented in an MPEG2 encoded 1080p 2.35.1 widescreen high definition transfer that looks pretty much the same as the HD-DVD that was released by BCI a few years back and as such shares the same pros and cons. The pros? Detail is considerably better than standard definition offers and colors are reasonably well produced. The cons? The image is fairly dirty and shows a good bit of print damage.

    The Crater Lake Monster is given an AVC encoded 1080i 1.78.1 widescreen high definition transfer that actually looks pretty good. There are some shots where facial detail looks a bit waxy and there's a bit of print damage evident throughout but detail isn't bad for an older low budget film and color reproduction is quite good.

    Neither film has been beautifully restored here but both look pretty good considering their age and their origins (particularly when you take into account the low MSRP of the disc). There are some minor compression artifacts evident and some banding here and there but it's all quite watchable.

    As far as the audio goes, both films get LPCM tracks, in English with no alternate language options or subtitles provided. The quality of the audio is basically on par with the video - both movies sound fine, the levels are well balanced and only minimal hiss pops in here and there (and odds are if you're not actively listening for it you won't notice it in the first place).

    There are no extras on the disc, just a simple static menu that lets you choose one feature or the other. The BCI release of Galaxina did have some extras, but they've not been carried over to this release.

    The Final Word:

    Mill Creek's Blu-ray double feature pairs up two killer B's from the Crown International library and offers them up in pretty decent shape. The audio and video are decent considering the films' low budget roots and while the lack of extras stings (where are the trailers?) you can't argue with the price.

    Click the images below for full size Blu-ray screen caps!










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