Friday, June 10, 2016

071. Galaxina and 072. Death Warmed Up

Jump to Death Warmed up (1984)

071. Galaxina (1980)
Director: William Sachs
Writer: William Sachs
From: Cult Cinema; Sci-Fi Invasion

A police ship piloted by the android Galaxina is sent on a mission to recover the “Blue Star,” but the crew will have to face a variety of challenges before they can safely return home.

The movie opens with a nice widescreen shot—rare on these Mill Creek sets—with good color, a crisp print and a card reading “A Marimark Production.”

Oh no.

So we open with a crawl, like Spaceballs, and get a little background on this sci-fi future that doesn't matter. We're introduced to our heroes—a crew on a police ship that's mostly responsible for handing out interstellar parking tickets. The ship is run by Galaxina, an android modeled after a beautiful woman that can't speak. She also serves the crew dinner while wearing a French Maid outfit. Because this is what passes as clever in a Marimark production.

There's no plot for most of the first half, just weak send-ups of other sci-fi movies. There's an obligatory Alien parody with a chest-burster, a Star Trek parody with a captain's log (read by Captain Butt. Yeah), and just general sci-fi tropes. The sergeant on the ship is in love with Galaxina even though she constantly rebuffs him, hits him, and electrocutes him in response to his advances. Obviously, that just means keep trying.

So the crew is sent on a mission to pick up the “Blue Star,” a gem that will do something important for space travel. Getting it will take 27 years, each way, so the crew spends one last night of freedom at an alien brothel. Galaxina watches the sergeant's cavorting via video, and then the crew comes back and goes into cryosleep. During the 27 year, Galaxina reprograms herself to be able to speak because she's actually in love with the creeper.

They wake up, send Galaxina to the inhospitable planet to get the gem, she meets the villain who ends up taking over the ship. The crew all band together and save the day. The end, kill me.

As with all the Marimark movies I've watched so far, this walks that fine line of, “This could be good if you'd try. Oh, you're not going to try at all.” As I said at the top, this looks like an actual movie. There's a budget, multiple sets, and an intelligence behind putting things together. Plus the captain is played by Avery Schreiber who's good. He should be the lead and given a lot more material to riff on, but instead they focus on the rapey sergeant and his relationship with Galaxina.

To be fair, there is one good gag in the movie. Every time someone says “Blue Star,” an angelic chorus briefly breaks out and everyone looks around to see where the noise came from. As a running gag, it's not great, but there's a moment where someone says “Blue Star” and nothing happens. Everyone waits a second, then the character says it again and the chorus catches up. It legitimately made me laugh.

Overall, this feels like a 1980's sci-fi version of the Scary Movie franchise, but not as funny or carefully crafted. Yeah, exactly. So a big thumbs-down on this. It's interesting as a historical document as it was released shortly before Dorothy Stratten, Galaxina, was murdered by her estranged husband.

072. Death Warmed Up aka Death Warmed Over (1984)
Director: David Blyth
Writers: David Blyth and Michael Heath
From: Cult Cinema; Pure Terror

A group of friends take a trip to a remote island where an evil scientist is doing experiments on people's brains. What one of the friends is keeping secret, though, is that he has a history with the scientist and very personal reasons for going to the island.

Dr. Howell is trying to push his research into the realm of human testing, but his colleague objects, saying the current results aren't conclusive enough. Howell bristles at the response as he's trying, in his words, to “make death obsolete.” That evening, Howell finds his colleague's son, Michael, and injects him with a serum that leads him to kill his parents.

When exactly?
Seven years later, Dr. Howell is doing experiments on an isolated island and Michael has just been released from a psychiatric institution. “Now...” we see Dr. Howell doing brain surgery on a patient who ultimately dies while Michael and his friends are taking a ferry over to the doctor's island. The boat's first mate clearly has issues and is complaining of a headache. The other passengers on the ferry are two goons that work for the doctor, waiting in a bus. Michael and his friends get into an altercation with the goons, but eventually escape.

Michael and his friends explore some WWII tunnels on the island where they discover the body of the first mate who had died while visiting the doctor. The goons show up on motorcycles and chase Michael and his friends through the tunnels. One of the friends gets a serious head injury, but another manages to severely injure one of the goons. The doctor is unsympathetic to the goon's injury so the other one goes into a rage and releases all the patients at the hospital. They go into town looking for Micheal and his friends.

They find the group holed up in a pub trying to find medical help. The goons descend, but are put off by the hospital staff that comes and kidnaps Michael et al. When they get to the hospital, it's overrun, Michael and his friends are immediately fending for themselves, which ultimately leads to Michaels' injured friend dying in an explosion and her boyfriend getting killed by one of the goons. Michael manages to kill Dr. Howell after he explains his plan for world domination which doesn't explain anything, and Michael and his girlfriend leave.

Outside, the island is in chaos as the doctor had been experimenting on everyone. Michael gets out of the car they're in, walks a little bit, and gets electrocuted by a falling power line. His girlfriend runs away in slow motion, weeping and terrified.

An interesting piece of Ozploitation with obvious influences from Mad Max and Bad Taste that don't marry as well as they could. The movie's low-budget, but does a good job working within those constraints as opposed to be stymied by them, and has a good sense of humor about its plethora of gore effects. The Bad Taste influences are clearest there. There's just a fundamental problem of clarity—I was never sure what the doctor's evil plan was or why Michael had gone to that island.

Otherwise the movie's pretty okay. It moves well enough, has silly 80's action tropes, and is the right mix of intentionally and unintentionally funny. I wouldn't say it needs to enter the bad movie canon, but it's pretty good as a hangover film or something to have on in the background with friends.

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