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Rhino presents
Galaxina (1980)

"I'm better than a human."
- Galaxina (Dorothy Stratten)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: June 21, 2000

Stars: Dorothy Stratten
Other Stars: Avery Schrieber, Stephan Macht, James David Hinton
Director: William Sachs

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: R for Brief nudity
Run Time: 01h:28m:00s
Release Date: February 29, 2000
UPC: 081227662721
Genre: sci-fi


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C- C-D-C C

DVD Review

While I could go on about the storyline and acting in this film, the notable feature of Galaxina is the presence of legendary Playboy Playmate of the Year, Dorothy Stratten in her first starring role. Stratten came to posthumous notoriety following her murder by her former husband/manager Paul Snyder, the same year this film was released. This tragic story was documented in Star 80 (with Mariel Hemminway—available on DVD) and the Jamie Lee Curtis TV movie Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story.

As a film, Galaxina falls into the "let's make a comedy science fiction film" category that played on the success of the Star Wars franchise. There are a number of supposedly funny moments that don't really materialize, and with a crew consisting of Captain Butts (Avery Schrieber), a stoner named Buzz and a Ken doll named Thor (Macht), you aren't expecting a deep plot...and you don't get it. The acting is mediocre, the story is shallow, and the FX are pretty poor as well. The basic premise is that the crew of The Infinity are called upon to venture to a distant planet to collect a rare gem (whose name I shant repeat for fear of invoking an annoying musical cue). The mission requires a 27 year voyage which the crew will spend in suspended animation, save for the emotionless cyborg Galaxina (Stratten), who while beautiful to look at, is also electrically protected from the sexual advancements of her shipmates, most notably the onboard hunk, Thor. During the voyage Galaxina modifies her circuits to become the woman Thor will love forever. Throw in the usual references to other sci-fi franchises, a collection of alien costumes and lots of bad jokes, and you pretty much sum it up. While there are some amusing moments, the majority of the film is pretty lame, and the presentation on the DVD doesn't do anything to help it out.

That said, if you can find Dark Star and Saturn 3 on your shelves, this belongs in your collection, if only so you have a good example of cheese to augment the rest of your films. As a DVD collector, this is a great example of a "what the heck were they thinking when they made this DVD" release. More about this below.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Rationo
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: I don't really know what to say about this transfer other than, "what were they thinking?" The image is murky, faded and just poor overall. The contrast is completely off, there is a ton of streaking (check out any of the space sequences with streamers following all the stars—there is no point really analysing the quality here because there is none to speak of. This was obviously mastered off an old analog source, as the transfer is ripe with analog video artifacts. Perhaps if they had run over the source a few times with a truck they could have at least made it look vintage.

As for the aspect ratio, here is where it gets interesting. First, this was a 2.35:1 film shot in Panavision, but the DVD is rendered at 1.85:1 (except for two shots, which are at the correct ratio!) Throughout the DVD they are reframing the 1.85 image, sometimes including the full 2.35 frame (resulting in a horizontally squeezed look), other times they zoom into the frame at 1.85:1 (cutting off the edges) and other times they have zoomed into a 1.33:1 image while still using 1.85:1 as the master. Second, the disc is anamorphic, though it was really tough to tell whether this was intentional or not on first viewing, or whether they had originally done a straight transfer from an anamorphic print and zoomed in on it. The film opens with a shaky zoomed in logo which is followed by a section where you actually see them horizontally compressing the picture to fit (most) of the intended width of the frame. The image is a mess, and I have seen better 10-year-old VHS tapes. Bad, really bad!

Image Transfer Grade: D-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Now that we have Dolby Digital 5.1 we will be seeing more of this from smaller studios, though I had expected Rhino would have done a better job given that they have done some pretty decent CD releases. This is one of those psuedo DD5.1 mixes which does not suit the film at all. Basically they took the mono soundtrack (also available as a 2.0 mono mix), and added some ambience to it. Both soundtracks are lacking in dynamic and frequency range and are occasionally distorted. Suits the look of the picture quite well actually.

Audio Transfer Grade: C

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Slide show
  2. Easter egg
  3. Rhino promo
Extras Review: This is a textbook example of having the wrong priorities when creating a DVD—instead of focusing on a decent transfer and sound mix for the film, all the energy was directed at the menus which are all style and little substance. The disc opens with a unskippable FBI warning (complete with onscreen mockery) and a short Rhino promo. The main menu is animated (with a cheesy graphic, which, while sci-fi themed, doesn't add anything to the presentation of the film). The bios for Stratten, Shrieber and Macht are actually video clips, but are too short to actually get through reading before they are over, and offer only minimal information. The "hilarious easter egg" noted on the package is a silly computer rendered video bit that isn't funny at all, especially when you consider the work that was required to generate it while production neglected the feature film. There is a brief slide show featuring images from the film flying in and out of the picture. The chapter menus feature static images from the film with animated borders. There is also a promo for other Rhino DVDs which are accessable from both the main and extras menus, which is just a scrolling list of titles with an annoying Andy Kaufman background track. The theatrical trailer is blurry and of poor quality, and is also framed at 1.85:1 instead of 2.35:1. Also included in the case is a single sided sheet with the chapter listing.

Next time, skip the extras and give us a decent print!

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

This isn't a classic by any means, nor is it a landmark film deserving of extensive restoration. What gets me about a release like this is that in spite of the fact that it is a really marginal film, they spent all the time to create "fancy" menus and stupid extras, and didn't bother doing a decent job on either the transfer or the sound. If this had been handled by someone else (Anchor Bay comes to mind), we would have gotten a new, properly framed, anamorphic transfer which would have looked great, and the audio, even if only in its original mono, would have been mastered properly. Instead, we have a really lousy transfer dressed with a bunch of fluff. I'll take a bare bones, well done transfer over this kind of treatment anyday. It's one thing to release bad movies on DVD, it's another to make them look even worse. I like bad movies, but wish that they would be presented with some respect for quality.

If you are a sci-fi completist, get it—otherwise, you could pass this one up and not be missing much. I am really upset that Rhino would do this to Galaxina. If Madacy had released this I could understand the poor quality, but I had higher hopes for Rhino.

 


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