They're lost in space…about to crash on a planet gone wild!
A group of alien gourmets is traveling the solar system seeking out the finest sustenance in the galaxy. They've heard Earth is a good place to get your feedbag on, so their navigator Graft sets a course for the third restaurateur from the sun. But the spaceship malfunctions and the crew must eject. They grab a shuttle and land on an uncharted planet, where they soon discover that the only edibles are magic mushrooms and bushes of wilted Cobb salad. But when the main course arrives, it's a whopper! It will take more than two hands to handle these living rib roasts that have taken the form of ancient dinosaurs, roaming the terrain and feasting on their own handy supply of extraterrestrial tidbits. Between the endless infighting and ravenous feelings, our motley crew of cuisiniacs has to battle the elements, the equally famished mobile fossils, and a strange caveman who may or may not be a robot controlled by some megalomaniac watching all this from a video monitor. As the dinner turned Donner party starts disappearing one by one into the monster's maws, a last-minute revelation as to what is really going on will have you on the edge of your consciousness as it takes a rather long, convoluted, and drawn out monologue to explain this mess.
Thank goodness for the Bad Movie Police. They offer their own instinctual insights into why this movie violates all manner of cinematic ethics. Be it the bad direction or even worst scripting, Galaxy of the Dinosaurs is motion picture public enemy numero uno.
When you hear how it was created, Galaxy of the Dinosaurs just should not work. Its abortion-like amalgamation of lost and created mixed media footage should be a living joke from whence all future low budget filmmakers can learn a thing or two about a thing or two. You see, an independent producer bought some stock footage from a film called Planet of the Dinosaurs (actually, about two and one-half minutes of incredibly bad stop motion beast biffle) and gave it to Tempe Video with a seemingly simple proposition: make a full-length feature with it. Well, as this was the era of super VHS, the ingenious moviemakers at the no-funds film studio crafted a low quality video version of sci-fi stupidity and then tried to fuse it with the 35mm footage. The results were an exercise in incongruity. The video movie takes place mostly in the damp winter woods of Ohio. The dino material seems to suggest an arid desert climate with plenty of rock formations. Characters look off screen and comment with screams or shock. Quickly, a jump cut shows us some hackneyed Harryhausen that almost suggests what the actors were looking at, or visa versa. Sometimes, the segue is near-seemless. A T-rex takes spears to the side thrown by the taped thespians (even if they are only heaving small sticks out of frame) and one chase between a triceratops and the unfunny fat guy comic relief does defer enough disbelief to actually have you interested in the outcome.
But this continuity chaos is just one of the achingly bad aspects to this film that actually function to free it up and turn it into a camp classic. Starting with the acting, everyone here is guilty of some manner of Method massacre. James Black is the worst captain of a starship since Sulu was promoted. He emotes with all the effectiveness of an effete dancer (which bizarrely enough ends up fleshing out his character's backstory). Tom Hoover is Benj, the buffoon bulimic who is constantly shoveling anything even remotely edible into his stinking yapper, giving the stereotype of the jolly fat man a royal ass reaming. There's Christine Morrison, who wears an actual pony's tail in her hair to create that otherworldy horse's patootie look and gives each line reading a "just showed up and spoke it" sort of naturalism, proving once again that talent is not where you find it, but where you can afford it. And who could forget James L. Edwards as Graft, the only intergalactic guide (who turns out to be a demented despot) with a clipped, homosexual cadence. His final minutes of never-ending explanation (along with the cheese factory makeup effects he is stuck wearing) make a mockery of everything that came before it, and that's saying a lot when you consider it's been 55 minutes of boring bickering contrasted with crappy Valley of Gwangi outtakes.
But still, this is fun to watch. It's fun to pick out the times the actors flub their meandering dialogue. It's fun to watch them misread the emotion in a line and portray defiance when they should be supportive. It's fun to see the piss-poor space footage and the basement office cockpit sets. And it's fun to think that the movie was made for $1250 and it still has you wondering where the budget went. Added all together, the goofs and gaffes, the anemic acting and outrageous nothingness of the action scenes, means that Galaxy of the Dinosaurs is one of the worst, most godawful wastes of time you will ever come across. Even the ersatz Ape planet ending simply cements the stupidity of what is going on here. And yet, this movie entertains. It enlightens and invigorates. Like the sensation of completing a day-long series of electroshock, primal scream therapy sessions, your mind will feel renewed and jumpstarted. You'll view your pathetic existence in a different, more compelling light. You'll thank your lucky stars that all you have in your past are felony convictions and nude photos with attentive gummy bears. Somewhere out in the world around you live people whom actually acted in and created Galaxy of the Dinosaurs and you are not one of them. Ain't it grand to be alive?
Tempe Video has begun a new DVD series, and it's a real winner. The Bad Movie Police, like a law enforcement Elvira, stars a couple of pseudo-hot chicks in all manner of Goth cop clothing. They introduce the title and, in skit form, comment on how they had to "track down" and "arrest" the perpetrator of this (and other) movie misdemeanor(s) and sort out the individual evidentiary aspects that warrant penal punishment. It is all played within a near perfect patrolperson lampoon, and the lead actresses (Ariauna Albright and Lilith Stabs) give their performances a real deadpan drollness. Their Top Ten Crimes Against Cinema rundowns are priceless. Perhaps the only complaint that can be made about bookending bad movies this way is that we don't get a final wrap up. Once the film is over, we get the Bad Movie Police credits and nothing else. Too bad, since having them return for a little Dragnet style "in a moment, the results from that trial" treat would have been great. Still, this is a decent way for Tempe to re-release their less than desirable crap titles on DVD, and the presentation is very well done.
The image has been totally remastered and the horrid Super-VHS cuts and defects ironed out digitally. This means that something that should have been almost unwatchable now looks better than many of Artisan's tainted transfers. There is no flaring or bleeding in the video footage and the matching to the 35mm print material is good. The film still feels old, but it really doesn't look it. Sound, on the other hand, is a tricky issue. Relying on camera mics and less than successful booms, you will have a hard time hearing some of the dialogue, which is a Lord Launch in and of itself. As for bonus material, we get producer (and director under the alias LANCE RANDAS) J.R. Bookwalter and actor James Black on tap for a commentary, and it's fantastic. Both are willing to ridicule and rib this film as they describe, in intricate, interesting detail how and why it was made. Bookwalter tries to keep up a "Randas did it" façade for the most part, but eventually starts slipping in a lot of "I did" and "I thoughts" into the talk. Black is amazed at how average the film is (he has never seen it all the way through before) and both love to deconstruct the other cast members. Even better than the comments is the 17-minute featurette that goes into even more detail about how this film was created (or better yet, tossed together). Filled with many embarrassed talking heads all claiming the filmic Fifth Amendment, it's a wonderful exposé on no budget filmmaking. Along with a focus on actor Black himself (which appears to be the long version of some of the interview footage used in the featurette) and trailer scraps, we have a great DVD of a dumb but deceptively delightful homemade nightmare. Galaxy of the Dinosaurs is no Jurassic Park. It's not even a Prehysteria. But in its Bad Movie Police incarnation it's a misunderstood monster movie read the ridiculous riot act by our buxom babes with badges. Book 'em, BMP!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Tempe Video
• Feature Commentary with Producer J.R. Bookwalter and Star James Black
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