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A tired and derivative story may not detract from the fun space terror of “Dead Space” brought to you by schlock master Roger Corman.

An alien virus infects the crew of a Saturn-based space station. Let’s dig into 1991’s DEAD SPACE, directed by Fred Gallo!

As I See It

Written by Catherin Cyran, who also wrote Slumber Party Massacre III, this space horror odyssey borrows from tried and true deep space alien films such as none other than Alien and Aliens. A Roger Corman production always has a charming cheese factor involved, and this one is no different. The fact that it looks cheaper than the early iteration, Forbidden World, is maddening. There is no reason to remake a film unless you can do it better, and that’s not what’s happening here.

That said, it’s fun, and we get Bryan Cranston before he was able to sink his teeth into the best role of his career: Hal on Malcolm in the Middle. You can argue his appearance in the somewhat known (sarcasm, people) Vince Gilligan show Breaking Bad was his most successful, being that he won a bunch of awards. Yet, it’s his role as Hal that has all the heart you could muster on camera.

From his early life chance run-in with the Manson family to his joint booze venture with Aaron Paul, Cranston is as close to a “can’t miss” star as one could be. Of course, that streak had to start after this film, though Cranston does stick out as a solid dramatic actor in the low-budget production.

The special effects are pretty good, especially for a Corman production.

That is not to degenerate the indie king. Special effects artist Garbiel Bartalos worked as an assistant on Friday the 13th Part VI – Jason Lives, on crew for Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and From Beyond, created the creature in Munchie, and later went on to work for Patrick Tatopoulos Designs on Godzilla 98 and Underworld.

The foam fabrication on the droid Tinpan (which sounds like Tin Man when uttered on screen) is more than screen-passable and good enough to have found itself on a spaceship in a galaxy far, far away. The play between Krieger and Tinpan is comical and whimsical.

The big baddie, which moves even less than the Queen Alien, has a bit of a Xenomorph, Pumpkinhead, and monster from Howard the Duck vibe going on.

It is a very overdone plot but fun enough to be worth the time.

Dead Space

Famous Faces

Bryan Cranston (Dr. Darden) needs no introduction. His character in Breaking Bad, Walter White, is part of the pop culture lexicon.

Lori Lively (Jill) is the sister of Jason Lively (Night of the Creeps) and Blake Lively (The Shallows, and married to super hunk, futbol owner, and red mask-wearing Ryan Reynolds).

Of Gratuitous Nature

Sex lends to the story. It is, after all, a plot about a group of “dysfunctional” sex addicts. There is no dearth of egalitarian nudity in Dead Space. For that, I could give it all a pass. Male frontal nudity, female nudity, a queer male sex scene; the film has it all. Perhaps the most poetically redeeming moment is a nude shower kill of a man. It’s not something that you could call common for the era.


Marc Singer (Commander Krieger) came to set looking ripped and tan despite being in his forties at the time.

Ripe for a Remake

You can’t keep making the same deep space, futuristic story. Or, I guess you can if your name is Ridley Scott.


Being that Dead Space was ostensibly a remake of Forbidden World (and an inferior one at that), it’s no wonder we don’t have a continuance of the mythos. Forbidden World looked much better, which is puzzling.

Where to Watch

Shout Factory released a double feature DVD of Dead Space along with The Terror Within back in 2010 before releasing a stand-alone Blu-ray in 2021 with a very limited 1500 copies. You can stream it on Tubi, Fubo, The Roku Channel, and Crackle.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 2.5

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