Star Crystal (1986) – By Jonathon Pernisek

Star Crystal, for what it’s worth, has enough befuddling elements to warrant a rental or even a purchase. A science fiction/horror entry with radical shifts in tone, oddball characters, and an ending straight out of the WTF Department, it is one strange little film. Luckily, and this was a surprise to me, you can get it on DVD, but don’t let the cover fool you. The alien design, much like the one featured on the video for Teen Alien, is not at all accurate to what the movie actually contains. In fact, this is easily one of the goofiest creatures ever created, but I’ll get to him later.

The movie opens during a routine mission on Mars in the year…oh, say, 2032. Immediately when I saw this date I thought to myself, “This will definitely need to be seen again when 2032 rolls around.” Something tells me mankind will still be at the point where we’re guessing if Mars had water at some indefinable point, much less than having country bumpkins hopping around the surface looking for something that will make them rich. This is, in fact, what’s happening. Two dopes find a mysterious rock, bring it back to their ship, and minutes later the thing has burst open to reveal…Gak. Or Silly Putty, if you will.

There’s also a glowing crystal (a Star Crystal, I’m sure) within the rock, and as time passes we see the amoebic alien grow slightly larger as really inappropriate sound effects accompany its evolution. Balloons releasing helium, toy car horns, you name it, you’ll hear it in this scene. Cut to eight months after this sequence and everyone on the ship is, like, totally dead. Oxygen depletion or something. So another ship brings the first one onboard to see what went wrong. Well, the alien doesn’t like this and decides to use its magical crystal to…blow up the second ship. Luckily (not for us), a few members of the second’s ship crew were investigating the first ship, and since the alien let the first ship get clear of the second before it blew up they survived.

Confused yet? I swear this movie could have started without the first five to ten minutes and nothing would have been affected in terms of the plot. Surprisingly this is the speediest part of the movie, as after the second ship bites the big one the pace really, really slows down. Now we have to endure the wacky antics of the crew members, who seem to have been plucked right out of Three’s Company or some other nameless yet equally stupid sitcom. Their leader is no hero. In fact, someone decided it would be best to not have the usual hero character, one with a big chin and dashing smile, but rather give the leader position to the guy who’s normally the hero’s comical sidekick. So we endure his lame jokes while Cool Black Dude tries to woo Nervous Gal and The Two Independent Women assert themselves every five minutes.

Where did these characters come from? What are they doing in a horror picture? When the first Independent Woman got axed by the evil alien, I couldn’t care less since her only purpose was to grouse and yell at the Sidekick Hero. However, I will point out how the death scenes are actually very well handled. The effects are truly disgusting, as tendril-like arms snake around their victim and basically sap them of all their blood. Too bad this is all set to one of the most annoying rip-offs of the Psycho death theme ever orchestrated. If you’re not bothered by a guy screaming “Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!” thirty times whenever someone gets killed then you’re more than patient than moi.

Fast forward a good half hour and Cool Black Dude and Nervous Gal are also dead, leaving Sidekick Hero and Other Independent Woman to fend for themselves. Now is the time when I should discuss the ship they’re aboard, as it’s easily one of the worst designed vehicles in sci-fi history. For you MST3k fans, do you recall the really short, cube-shaped doors the astronauts had to duck under in The Phantom Planet? This ship has those exact same doors, and even better these doors are all connected by tunnels no bigger than your average ventilation shaft. So you have all of these characters literally crawling on their hands and knees to each part of the ship! Talk about ridiculously unhelpful when trying to evade a killer alien…

Ah, but is this alien such a killer? You might wanna save yourself the spoiler and leave this review knowing you’re in for some funny times, but if you don’t mind I simply have to explain what happens within the last fifteen minutes of this film. See, the alien, who it turns out is nothing more than a bright orange slug whose head is a hand puppet with two bulging, half-asleep eyes, accesses the ship’s computer system and starts reading…the Bible. He reads the freaking Bible, people, and he learns you should love your enemies as you love yourself. Surely you must already be groaning.

So when our human leads finally face the alien we find he’s had a change of heart. He claims he only killed his first batch of victims out of self-defense. Nervous Gal, for instance, threw acid at him, so of course he retaliated. Makes sense, right? Well, the Sidekick Hero isn’t buying the act, but for some insane reason Independent Woman trusts this thing in absolutely no time flat. Better yet, the alien’s name is GAR. GAR!

Better still are the scenes which follow this confrontation. We see Independent Woman preparing a nutritious meal, and the camera pulls back to see the humans are sitting down to eat dinner with GAR. What?! Cut to Sidekick Hero trying to repair the ship in frustration only to have GAR use his psychic powers to hand him a wrench. Cue Sidekick’s wacky eye roll and “Gee, thanks Gar” attitude. Cut to GAR and Sidekick playing an intergalactic version of Chinese checkers or some such crap. Sidekick loses, gets miffed, and is put in his place when GAR calls him a jerk. You can’t make this stuff up people.

Finally, as the movie winds down, GAR takes his leave after Sidekick and Woman dock at a fueling station (I assume, because I was still laughing at the scenes preceding this section). GAR’s ship flies away serenely as the first notes of what has come to be one of the worst songs I’ve heard play on the soundtrack. The title of the tune is “Crystal of a Star” (swear to God) and it has some of the most laughable lyrics you can imagine. The singer, in case you’re wondering, is Stefanianna Christopherson, best known for her voice work as Daphne in the series Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! and…not much else, really.

Come now, surely this is enough to make you hunt down a copy of Star Crystal. Sure, you could say I gave everything away, but it’s so much better when you experience the craziness yourself. If anything else you can fast forward to the last chunk where all sense is thrown out the window in lieu of complete idiocy and a twinge of Christian propaganda. C’mon, you know you love this stuff.