Roger M. Wilcox's review of

Battlestar Galactica

(The one from 1978)

(First posted to Bad Movie Night in 2001 or so.)

Jeff DeLuzio's review of this failed-series-pilot-turned-movie does a more thorough job of skewering its many problems than I ever could. But Jeff had one big flaw holding him back: He's Canadian. He didn't get to see the American theatrical release of this film.

You see, after the series totally failed to draw the millions of rabid viewers it was supposed to, Glen Larson and company decided to try and recoup their losses by cutting the series pilot down to 125 minutes and releasing it to theaters. But even Glen "Knight Rider" Larson knew that the theater-going public wouldn't pay money to see something they'd seen for free on TV a year earlier. Not unless there was something they could add to the theatrical experience that you couldn't get on TV. So, Universal Studios added their new, exclusive, patented process ... a process used in such cinematic masterpieces as Earthquake and Rollercoaster ... a process that marked every second-rate film to come out of Universal in the late 1970s. Yes, friends and neighbors, Battlestar Galactica appeared in American theaters, in — hold onto your hats here — SENSURROUND!

Sensurround was one of those movie gimmicks that caught on about as well as 3-D glasses in the 1950s, or scratch-n-sniff. The studio supplied the theaters with enormous subwoofer speakers, which the theaters stacked next to the screen and plugged into their sound system. A secret handshake hidden in the movie's soundtrack told these giant subwoofers when to turn on and when to turn off. When on, the subwoofers would emit these really loud rumbling noises that drowned out all other sound in the film and were powerful enough to cause your seat to vibrate. It had all the romance and drama of standing too close to a Saturn V rocket launch. The movie Earthquake! was the first to use this ground-breaking (pun intended) technique. And we ALL know what an artistic masterpiece and box-office smash Earthquake! was.

And so, armed with this new (ahem) technology, we moviegoers could now feel the theater shake every time a Battlestar flew past on the screen. Even though sound isn't supposed to propagate through space. We could feel our bowels vibrate loose whenever a Cylon Raider got shot down. We could feel the exprensive bridgework pop loose from our teeth when the Cylons attacked the colonies. And we could sue Universal Studios for hearing loss when the Cylon Base Star and the Ovion's planet Carolon blew up at the end.

The Sensurround feature — which, sadly, isn't available in the home video version — provided the final 1970s touch to this film. It already had 70s hairstyles, 1970s disco music, 1970s pick-up bars, and 1970s social mores ... all perpetrated by "lost tribes of humans" who had supposedly been out of touch with us for thousands of years. Parallel evolution in action, folks.

If you actually bother paying attention to the movie, you might notice that the Viper pilots' helmets all bear a striking resemblance to Egyptian pharaoh masks. This isn't accidental. Glen Larson was a dyed-in-the-wool Mormon, and peppered this series with liberal doses of Mormon imagery. The home planet of humanity in the Galactica-verse is named Kobol (while the main Mormon planet is named Kolob), Mormon theology has enough Egyptian imagery in it to make a Rosecrucian jealous, and marriage in the 2nd TV miniseries is referred to as getting sealed. I wouldn't be surprised if the Cylons were after some gold plates hidden aboard the Galactica.

Oh, and one more thing: At least Star Wars, which Galactica ripped off, didn't have to resort to using "Centons" and "Felger Carb".  But then, Star Wars was never released in ... SENSURROUND!

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