B-Movie Inspiration: Galaxy of Terror

B Movies Ideas: Galaxy of Terror

I do not know why the 1980s films seem to be more inspiring but maybe people were more willing to try bad ideas out on film back them. Now we just have awful remakes and reboots. But then again, I think back to all the 80s movies I saw, and I do remember some pretty bad ones too. SO it may not be all that much different.

Today’s Movie: Galaxy of Terror (1981)

Yet another movie I Netflixed, this one came from the great B-movie king, Roger Corman.  Plot summary from IMBD.com is as follows:

As a lone spaceship proceeds on its long voyage across space, the crew are surprised to encounter a strange pyramid form. Surprise turns to horror as one by one, they discover that their darkest nightmares are all starting to become real. The pyramid has to be behind it all somehow, but how can they save themselves from its influence?

First off, Roger Corman should always been on any sci-fi or gamer list.  This man makes some great b-movies, especially in the 1980s.  He is most well known for his very bad take on the Fantastic Four, which I am still not sure ever got released.  One thing that is great about him is that he took risks on some weak storylines and made them into something very imaginative.  He also mentored many of the greats of today including James Cameron and many others. I admire his body of work and have used it for ideas in my games often.

Produced by Corman, Galaxy of Terror  was directed by a guy named Bruce D. Clark and written Bruce D. Clark as well as Marc Siegler.  It starts out REALLY weird with this glowing-head dude and an old woman playing some kind of futuristic game and talking strangely about things that  are being set in motion, setting up the movie main story arch. Then the movie shifts to a ship called the Quest, with a crew of 10 played by actors that include Robert Englund (Nightmare on Elm Street), Erin Moran (Happy Days), Ray Walston (My Favorite Martian) and Sid Haig.  We find out they are on some kind of rescue mission.  They to an alien world that has a very familiar feel and find the ship they were sent to rescue.  They discover that a massacre occurred on the now destroyed ship.  Meanwhile one of the crew grows more and more agitated and fearful.  This crew member is later killed by strange creatures.  They continue to
investigate and eventually find an alien pyramid structure.  Other plot elements lead them to believe they were drawn down here to discover this pyramid.  They get split up and each individual ends up facing their worst fear in some gruesome way or another.  One particularly controversial scene that was taken out originally was a woman being raped by a giant worm. Gross! 

[SPOILERS] The giant pyramid turned to be one big giant test to see who will take over for the Controller – the glowing-head dude.  The tests were for people to face their fears.  But the challenge was not to make that obvious by planting obvious phobias right off the bat.  Unfortunately, that was too much of a challenge and it was obvious from the start that a number of them would be facing very contrived phobias – klosterphobia, fear of worms, etc.  They face strange creatures (done in great stop-motion), winding hallways, and phantom doppelgangers. Eventually one survives and faces the glowing-head dude.

Immediately the set designs seem all too familiar.  With a little research, I found out why. James Cameron (Aliens) had a hand in the set design and production. The look and feel of this movie was very similar to Aliens.  I loved the set.  However, the overall movie was not very original and kind of contrived.  However, there were a few little nuggets of inspiration in it.

RPG Plot Ideas:

There are several aspects of this movie that can apply to an RPG.   The one that stands out to me was the overall plot of facing your fears.  In an RPG game, this kind of thing is even harder to do because once the player sees that phobia written down on the character sheet, the meta-gaming begins.  So to do something like this, you have to do it in private with each player, and ask them to not speak to the other players when they return.  It’s a challenging thing but with a little extra work it could be done.

The other element is the mission turning into a test aspect – an alien super being testing out other beings to take its place.  I have seen this concept in other shows and movies, so it is not very original at all.  But it is a great idea for a RPG session.

Ideas I got from this:

  • Setting: Any – Party is sent by a mysterious benefactor to find a artifact, located in a mysterious place.  This artifact has a guardian and side effects to those that are near it (magic or psychic).  The guardian is working with the mysterious benefactor to find a replacement guardian, but first the candidates have to face the side effects.  Whoever survives the side effects is recruited (willfully or not) as the new guardian.
  • Setting: Any – Face your fears.  There are a few things that need to be prepared for a game like this.  I picture this as a one-shot horror game but it may fit in any setting.  The characters have to be completely fleshed out with extensive background, personality quirks, and a few phobias or traumatic experiences.  The personality quirks/phobias/traumatic experiences can not be revealed to the other players but may be revealed through role play.  I feel like there needs to be a primary obvious phobia and then an underlying trauma that that the character may not talk about much.  Through the course of the adventure, each person is forced to face this fear or trauma in some gruesome way.  The GM will have to take that person outside or in another room and have the encounters that pertain to this facing of fear.  Then return and role play what happens and story tell what the other players see or hear.
  • Setting: Sci-fi – Of course there is always my favorite plotline of a derelict ship found by the party, and a mysterious creature on board that slaughtered the previous crew.  Why not a race of giant slimy worms that want to implant their larva in whatever warm body they can find! 🙂
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