William Sachs discusses Galaxina 35 years later
In 1980 I discovered the treat of my teenage years in Dorothy Stratten. The beautiful Playboy Playmate was a wet dream come true and then just months after discovering her she was killed by her husband in a Hollywood-Babylon style murder that shocked the world. What is most tragic about this murder is that Stratten looked to be on the verge of becoming one of the biggest female stars in Hollywood. My father, whether he recognized my anguish or a rare moment of kindness, took me to see Galaxina. I was expecting a sexual escapade set in a sci fi world like Star Wars. What I got was one of the most unusual hour and a half of my life. I came away understanding what it was to get stoned and yet I never took a single drug.
First of all, Galaxina was a silly story that never seemed to make sense but it didn’t matter because the move sucked me in. The movie is a playful Pinocchio story in which we see Stratten in the role of an Android/Robot that slowly discovers her beauty and sexuality. If you were expecting a skin flick you would be sorely disappointed. Instead we get something that holds up after thirty-five years. Though we have this awesomely sexy robot the film never really takes advantage of the obvious. Through the use of familiar film sets, strange sound effects, and a seven degrees of satire, we get a film that can only be appreciated by a true fan of science fiction. The whimsical nature of the film gives birth to a gang that worships Harley Davidson and spaceships that look like they could be something that you might cook for dinner. I watched the film again recently and though slow paced, the story was grabbing. I had to discover what made this story possible and what was I missing in the story. I always felt this film deserved a sequel and with the death of Stratten, it is unlikely this will ever occur.
William “Bill” Sachs both wrote and directed this amazing film. I sat down and spoke with Sachs one night last week and we discussed many things most importantly we talked about Galaxina. Here are some highlights of that conversation.
How did you get the job of making Galaxina?
“Okay, well I had done Van Nuys Blvd for Crown and they called me and said do you want to do a comedy western? I said okay, so we started talking about it and I started researching the western, as a spoof on westerns basically. I started looking at western towns and thinking there’s so much we have to make, and build, and costumes. I said, “Why don’t we do sci-fi instead?” He agreed, yeah we’ll do the sci-fi movie and that’s why there’s a shootout in a western town which is at the Paramount Ranch because I liked it. That came from its having started out as a western.”
“She was a sweetheart and she would do anything anybody asked her to do which I guess was part of her downfall, I don’t know. She was wonderful. She cared, and she was involved, and she had ideas. She’d never really acted before. It worked for her because for most of the movie the whole beginning she didn’t even need to talk she just needed to be there. Then, slowly by the time we were ready to have her do some dialogue she was ready for it.”
Why did you choose Dorothy?
“We looked at so many people and there were many that were truly beautiful but they all seemed to look the same. They lacked what I was looking for but I couldn’t tell you what it was that I wanted. I just needed to see it. Anyway, outside the office was the work pool with secretaries and people, like twenty people at desks. For months we had people walking through there. When Dorothy Stratten came in and walked through, every single person, male, female, everybody stopped working and stared at her. It was right Then that I knew we had found her, because the secretaries and workers had been seeing people come through for months and and had never even looked up.”
“I had an art director but I designed the stuff myself. He did the real drawing. Like the spaceships I wanted an organic look. If you notice the inside of the spaceship it’s kind of like a mouth. The throat, the uvula thing, and it’s kind of round. For example, I wanted an organic look for the spaceships. The outside of the spaceship, the space police ship- you know what a Jerusalem artichoke is?”
Tell me what’s missing? The film seems incomplete in some way but I can’t honestly put a finger on it.
“I had a script that was longer. We had a twenty day shoot and while we were shooting we had … I don’t know if you know every once in a while we’d get horrible rain in Los Angeles and houses fall off the hills and everything. That’s what was happening when we were shooting. I had a lot more script, a lot more scenes, and we started losing locations. The set we were building was fiberglass, we did it at Raleigh Studios, and it wouldn’t harden because there was so much dampness around. In fact, the stage was leaking. We had troughs all over catching the drips and channeling the water coming down … channel the water coming down into buckets with sound blankets so you wouldn’t hear it. The whole thing was wet. Out of a twenty-day shoot, we lost at least three or four days of shooting. Instead of giving me more days they just ripped pages out of the script. To me the movie’s too slow paced because there was a lot more I was going to shoot and I would have been able to cut it faster, and there’re, yes, scenes missing.”
We spoke about many other things off topic but one final tidbit about Galaxina came from the conversation. Apparently there is a Blue Ray edition of Galaxina and it has a director’s commentary. Well this commentary is supposed to be one the best film commentaries ever made and I highly recommend that if you are going to go see this wonderful film, that you do so with the Blue Ray edition available on Amazon and other fine vendors. Otherwise just rent it on Amazon Prime for $2.99 but I really recommend the Blue Ray. Its selling for under ten bucks on Amazon as we speak. If you are like me and have a boxes full of Vampirella and Heavy Metal magazines in your closet, then Galaxina is a must see film. Remember it is 35 years old and was made before we had super cool digital effects. Watch it as a film of its time and discover some of the history of science fiction and a true cult classic.
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