In 2002, artist Jason Salavon composed a color collage titled Every Playboy Centerfold, the Decades (normalized). In it, he presented an aggregate of all the colors included in every Playboy centerfold from 1960 to 1999. Salavon discovered that, in four decades, the Playmates had become progressively blonder and lighter in skin tone. The pale blond of Marilyn Monroe gradually gave way to pure platinum as the Hefner ideal. Enter 1980 Playmate of the Year Dorothy R. Stratten — that doomed, forever-20 apex of Hefner's fantasies — and her star turn as Galaxina, which screens at Cinefamily on Saturday.
The year was fairly strong for fantasy and exploitation films; The Empire Strikes Back ruled cinemas for months, and the slasher genre continued in full, sickly flower. In the dull downtime between Night of the Juggler and The Island, audiences plunked $2.50 down to see this bizarre sci-fi/Western hybrid that's too sexy to be rated PG yet too harmlessly silly to warrant its R rating. Halfway between Barbarella and its spiritual successor, The Ice Pirates, Galaxina rips off everything from Star Wars to Pinocchio in its story of a sexy, naive android and her decades spent watching over the crew of the space freighter Infinity. They've been put into suspended animation, and she falls victim to all the emotions that time and loneliness inspire. "What is this thing called 'love'?" she asks.
Stratten's insanely jealous real-life boyfriend, Paul Snider, couldn't give her a good answer; he slaughtered her in a rage-fueled shotgun murder-suicide that August, making Galaxina Stratten's last film released during her lifetime. With the late Avery Schreiber as Captain Cornelius Butt, an Alien parody and the most garish red set decoration in any movie since Suspiria, ultimately Galaxina is less a frigid monument than it is a light snapshot of a beautiful woman who didn't take herself too seriously, poised on the edge of space with all the promise that fiction can imply.
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GALAXINA | Directed by William Sachs | Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre | Sat., March 27, 10 p.m.