Galaxy of Terror
Taaffe O'Connell and "the worm sex scene"
The commentary on the 2010 Shout! Factory DVD release (see below) includes R. J. Kizer, one of three editors of the film. Kizer reveals that the originally filmed version of the “Dameia” (O’Connell) character’s “kill” scene changed significantly as the movie was made. The initial writing of the scene had the maggot only stripping and consuming a topless Dameia, but producer Roger Corman had promised financial backers of the movie a sex scene involving O’Connell, so he merged the two ideas together. His re-write of the scene had Dameia reacting in terror when confronting the 12-foot long creature, an “id monster” created from her own mind complete with tentacles, but having the terror give way to forced sexual arousal as the monster strips and rapes her. The re-written scene included full nudity and far more explicit sexual content, including simulated sexual intercourse, and ended with Dameia moaning provocatively, covered in excreted slime, and being driven to an orgasm so intense it kills her.
After informing director Clark and actress O'Connell about the changes and having both of them balk at participating in the more sexually explicit scene, Corman decided to direct the entire scene himself. He hired a body double for O'Connell to shoot the full-nudity sex sequences, although O'Connell ended up in front of the camera for most of the final scene. After the film was completed and submitted for review, the sexual content of the scene was considered graphic enough by the Motion Picture Association of America film rating system (MPAA) to earn the film an initial 'X’ rating, which still existed at the time and was generally given only to films with adult sexual fare.
Kizer then made a number of very small cuts to the scene. In the interview, he stated that the cuts involved either very brief shots of O'Connell's face as her character expressed "rhapsodic and ecstatic" looks that too clearly indicated forced arousal and pleasure at being raped, or lewd "humping" motions made by the giant worm while the nude Dameia is ensnared in its tentacles underneath it, motions that obviously simulated sexual intercourse occurring between the two. None of these cuts were longer than one second in length and most only a few frames, and none altered the sequence of the scene. However, they were enough to avoid the dreaded X-rating for the film. The visuals of the final released scene in film and VHS versions (later DVD and Blu-ray disc as well) combined with O'Connell's verbalization still leave no doubt as to what happens to the character; in fact, the scene was still too explicit for many countries, who either required it be deleted or denied the film a release entirely. All authorized later releases of the film in Europe, America and elsewhere contain the scene in its final, R-rated version. The X-rated clipped materials themselves were lost over time and are not included as part of the new DVD/Blu-ray Disc release or any other release of the film. The film's trailer, which still exists online, shows what may be an unaltered view of one of the full nudity shots, containing a slightly different aspect than the one in the final movie.
The scene is discussed on the commentary of the Blu-ray Disc release more than any other aspect of the film. In an interview shown on the Blu-ray Disc, Corman stated that the character of Dameia as re-written had a fear of sex as well as a fear of worms. O'Connell, in a separate interview with Femme Fatales magazine, interpreted that Dameia was frightened by her own sexuality and a desire to submit to something more powerful than herself, something the monster created from her fears gives her to a lethal extent.