’ Galaxina ’: Cosmic Parodies Lost in Space

Washington Post, The (DC) - May 12, 1981
Author: Gary Arnold

The term "sophomoric" seems to sophisticated to describe the level of humor in the science-fiction spoof " Galaxina ." The tone is set, inescapably, by the introductory voice-over narration in which Avery Schreiber identifies himself as "Captain Cornelous Butt," heavy emphasis on the last name, the commander of an intergalactic prowl car, the Infinity, discovered on extended patrol in the year 3008.

This is the same Capt. Butt later encountered savoring a bottle of "Venusian Thunder Ripple" and commenting. "Ah, 2001, a great year!" Also the same Butt encountered tormenting a prisoner, a rock-eating little monster, by throwing rocks at it, provoking the outraged beastie to ask, "Is this how you get your rocks off?" In case customers missed this one, there’s another punch line about getting your rocks off in the last reel. In fact, redundancy is one of the film’s stylistic constants. Having staged a parody of the cantina sequence from "Star Wars" set in a freaky frontier brothel, the movie rehashes this episode in a freaky frontier saloon where the bill of fare includes taste treats like "glazed eyeballs" and "plasma cooler with lady fingers on the side" and "Eskimo pie" and "baked Alaskin."

At a distance, the Infinity, evidently conceived in facetious imitation of H.R. Giger’s "organic" constructions for "Alien," resembles a fish skeleton. Unfortunately, it also presumes to sustain feature length on skeletal comic resources. William Sachs, a smugly inept writer-director, belabors situations and gimmicks abstracted from almost every handy science-fiction model. In addition to "Alien" and "Star Wars," Sachs litters the screen with bits and pieces filched iwth oafish playfulness from "Star Trek" and "Dark Star." Ironically, the funniest borrowing appears to be unintentional. The closing credits of " Galaxina " roll on and on and on, evoking the seemingly endless credits of "Superman." If this raggedy production really represents the wasted efforts of so many helping hands, Sachs may be more of a menace than meets the eye.

An understandably unheralded opener at area theaters last weekend, the motley "Galaxima" would tend to make many a grammar school humorist and amateur filmmaker feel that he must be ready for the big time. Nevertheless, sarcastic juvenile attendance is more or less discouraged by the minimal publicity and the unnecessary "R" rating, evidently provoked by scenes like the one where a crew member is brought his supper; uncovering two little red capsules, he exclaims, "Oh, s---! Chicken again!"

While going heavy on profane inanity, the movie does nothing to justify the "R" for fun-seeking adults by capitalizing on the alluring possibilities of the title character, a voluptuous robot embodied by Dorothy R. Stratten, a promising starlet whose career ended tragically a year ago when whe was murdered by her estranged husband. A statuesque platinum blond slinking about in a backless silver jump suit, Galaxina might have stepped out of a port movie set in a Swedish massage parlor. At the same time, she’s wired to administer discouraging electric shocks to crew members who try to get a little familiar.

The potentially funny aspects of the crew’s dependence and fixation upon Galaxina are undermined by limiting her to a single suitor, an officer played by Stephen Macht, and by revealing that she’s easily capable of humanizing her own nature, once the infatuation proves mutual. Since the romantic problem is nonexistent, there’s also no ground for romantic comedy.

Stratten had completed a featured role in the unreleased Peter Bogdanovich film, "They All Laughed." Her niche in movie history is now dependent on that credit, since " Galaxina " seems content to keep her under wraps. There’s obviously an impressive physique encased in that inelegant jump suit, and when she finally gets a chance to speak in the last half of the film, Stratten also sounds attractive -- rather like a subdued echo of Marie Wilson as My Friend Irma. Nevertheless, " Galaxina " is too bumptious to showcase sex appeal effectively. Dorothy Statten remains the most conspicuose throwaway in a picture that mistakes facetiousness for cleverness.


Boston Globe - April 30, 1980

This year’s sexiest girl-next-door is from the country next door, according to Playboy Magazine. Dorothy Stratten of Vancouver, B.C., was named 1980 Playmate of the Year yesterday, the first Canadian to win the title since it was established 21 years ago by Hugh Hefner’s magazine for men. The blonde 20-year-old actress, who was Miss August 1979, claimed a $25,000 check and almost $175,000 worth of prizes.

Boston Globe - August 15, 1980
Author: United Press Intrnational

Playboy magazine’s 1980 Playmate of the Year, Dorothy Stratten , was shotgunned to death late yesterday, apparently by her estranged husband who then committed suicide, police said today.

The husband, Paul Sneider, 29, was apparently despondent over her decision to pose nude for the magazine, according to friends.

The couple had been married for two years when they separated a few months ago. Stratten, 20, had apparently gone to his home to discuss the separation.

The nude bodies were discovered shortly before midnight by friends and police were called.

Officers said Stratten, a native of Vancouver, B.C., who had recently completed a movie, was shot in the face with a 12-gauge shotgun. The man then turned the weapon on himself.

A spokesman for Playboy magazine said the blonde, hazel-eyed model was Playmate of the Month in August of last year and was named Playmate of the Year for 1980.

She had recently completed a role in the David Susskind Movie, "They All Laughed," which stars Audrey Hepburn and Ben Gazzara.

"The death of Dorothy Stratten comes as a shock to us all," The Playboy spokesman said, "She was a beautiful and talented woman. Her professional future was a bright one. But equally sad to us was the fact that the loss takes from us all a very special friend of the Playboy family.

Death of a Playboy Playmate

Washington Post, The (DC) - August 16, 1980
Author: Tom Zito

Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten was killed Thursday by a shotgun blast police say was fired by her estranged husband, who then turned the gun on himself.

"Dorothy has been living what could best be described as a Hollywood fairy tale," read the photo captions in Playboy’s Playmate of the Year layout. "She is one of the few emerging film goddesses of the new decade."

The two nude bodies were found by friends in a back bedroom of Stratten’s husband’s West Los Angeles apartment, which he shared with two other people. hFriends say that her husband, 29-year-old Paul Snider, was despondent over the Playboy poses, but a spokesman for the magazine denied this.

Dorothy Stratten, 20, had been discovered last year by a Playboy staffer in Vancouver, B.C., where she worked as a waitress at a Dairy Queen lunch counter, wearing a white uniform that set off her blond hair and hazel eyes. Publisher Hugh Hefner flew her to Los Angeles -- her first plane ride -- for test shots, displayed her body to the world in the August 1979 issue of his magazine, and named her Playmate of the Year this April.

It was Hollywood Babylon reenacted, a Horatio Alger adventure in the skin trade.

"Being a Playmate is almost a mythical thing," said Vicki McCarty, a fellow Playmate who is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Berkeley and a law student. McCarty explained her own posing as "just a little risque, and that’s what I like about it."

Dorothy Stratten was not quite as articulate as Vicki McCarty. But if she had trouble with complex sentences, she could smile alluringly. And what minor faults her body displayed were easily perfected with an airbrush.

Her husband had encouraged her to cooperate with Hefner, according to a Playboy spokesman. And although her Canadian mother had disapproved, by September Dorothy Stratten claimed to be proud of her public disrobing, telling one dinner campanion that posing nude had been "something just a little out of the ordinary, a good way to get started in a career."

Yet even as she spoke and answered questions, she waited for Snider to whisper responses into her ear, which she then mouthed to the person interviewing her. They seemed to the dinner companion a sad but well-matched couple; he Svengali; she the pliant beauty.

She went to work briefly at the Century City Playboy Club, and eventually left her husband, hoping to begin a Hollywood career on her own. She obtained roles in several movies: "Americathon," " Galaxina ," and most recently, "They All Laughed."

And then on Thursday afternoon, her estranged husband invited her back to the two-story apartment, apparently to discuss the separation. According to the police, as Stratten lay on his bed, Snider pointed the shotgun at the face that had delighted millions of men around the world, and pulled the trigger. Moments later, he leaned over the gun and again fired it -- this time into his own chest. The shotgun was found on the floor, under his body.

"The death of Dorothy Stratten comes as a shock to us all," Hefner said yesterday. "She was a beautiful and talented woman."

Shallow but Effective ’Death of a Centerfold’
Washington Post, The (DC) - October 31, 1981
Author: Tom Zito

In life and death alike, Dorothy Stratten fascinated people: Paul Snider, the hustler and soon-to-be husband who spied her in a Vancouver Dairy Queen at age 19 and brought her to the attention of Playboy; millions of readers of the magazine who saw her body displayed to the world in August 1979; chief Playboy Hugh Hefner, who named her Playmate of the Year in April 1980; director Peter Bogdanovich who reportedly had an affair with her and gave her a role in his not-yet-released film "They All Laughed"; Snider, soon her estranged husband, who ended both their lives with two shotgun blasts on Aug. 14, 1980; and Teresa Carpenter, whose posthumous portrait of Stratten for the Village Voice helped earn its author the Pulitzer Prize for feature-writing this spring.

Certainly this is the stuff of drama: enough for Bob Fosse to have bought the film rights to Carpenter’s piece for a movie he hopes to begin shooting next spring. But as often happens in the crazy world of Hollywood, where Dorothy Stratten lived a fairy-tale existence for almost a year, TV has already beaten out the cinema with "Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story," which airs at 9 p.m. tomorrow on Channel 4.

As television movies go, this one seems accurate, with a few noticeable exceptions: Stratten’s mother has been changed into an aunt and it’s never quite clear whether Stratten’s having an affair with a director who, in the film, is called David Palmer. But Hefner is called Hefner (Mitch Ryan looks eerily like the man he portrays) and the scenes set in Vancouver and Los Angeles ring true, especially when producers lounging around a pool intone immortal lines like, "Hey, you got that laid-back thing." The only glaring problem is the one scene where Stratten looks at a copy of Playboy, which seems more like some mutant Japanese fan magazine.

But if the surface has the grit of reality, the underlying drama seems intensely shallow. That Playboy continues to sell so well is ample testament to the vision of Hefner and the nature of people of the male persuasion. The core of the Playboy mystique is expediently glossed over, as is the even more fascinating dynamic of Dorothy Stratten ’s attraction to a man like Paul Snider: "I say pose, you pose; I say stand on your head, you stand on your head," his character says at one point in Donald Stewart’s script. And later the Stratten character explains the appeal of a man: "You gave me confidence, made me feel like a woman, told me I could be more than just some kid with a body, touched me."

All well enough, but certainly not enough on its own, hardly delving into the psychological universality of the story Carpenter captured so well in her piece: If Hefner conceived of his playmates as the idealized girls next door, then the death of Dorothy Stratten was more than a quirky statistic -- a point director Gabrielle Beaumont never manages to make in this film.

It’s peculiarly disappointing in this case, because Jamie Lee Curtis seems very capable of giving a performance that could go beyond the limitations of this script and the characters she’s previously portrayed in schlocky horror films like "Halloween." While she doesn’t seem as superficially gorgeous as Stratten did in the two dimensions of Playboy, there’s a vital understanding of the character’s conflicts simmering under Curtis’ acting. The portrayal is hauntingly good, and one can only wonder what might have resulted if the script and direction had been up to the caliber of her work here.