Star Crystal, a sci-fi/horror hybrid from 1986, caught my eye with promises of space shuttles and alien warfare. I knew it'd be a bad movie from other reviews I've seen, but nothing could prepare me for the true levels of suck Star Crystal manages to achieve. Simply put, this film redefines the entire idea of a hilariously awful b-movie. Never before have I seen acting this bad, effects this bad, or a plot that negates itself with such ferocity. This isn't your typical stupid movie - it's a whole new breed.
The story focuses on a group of astronauts from the 2030s stranded in a drifting spacecraft. Unbeknownst to them, there's also some kind of alien life form on board. The alien is like nothing I've ever seen in these sorts of films, and I'm not just talking about appearance. Yes, it's pretty dumb looking. Kind of like a skinless horse covered in slime. But the real shock lies within the alien's actions. For the first half of the film, a handful of the astronauts are ripped apart by this nasty beast's many tentacles, leaving piles of bony gooey corpses all over the ship. By the end of the movie, the very same alien is reading a computerized bible and playing friendly games of chess with the remaining astronauts. No, I'm not kidding. Admittedly, Star Crystal is part of a genre of films that rarely make any sense, but this one goes way beyond the call of duty.
The flick starts off slow and decisively boring, but just before you doze off, the action starts getting way too strange to miss out on. If you're a fan of stupid horror movies, look no further. Aside from fitting you needs, Star Crystal is probably one of the most inexpensive videotapes available. While my review sums it all up, this is one you've gotta actually experience. It's the closest thing we've got to Plan 9 in the past thirty years, hands down. Here's the review...
A few astronauts are performing a routine scout mission on Mars in 2032. They wear pretty interesting spacesuits, combining suede boots with snowsuits and motorcycle helmets. The astronauts don't have much fear of Mars' intense heat or alternate gravity pull, which works out since the people who made Star Crystal forgot that these things would be different on Mars than Earth. I won't bother introducing the characters, because even though the film spends ten minutes doing just that, all these guys are gonna be dead in the next scene anyway.
They find some kind of cosmic egg, which looks like a soccer ball covered in tin foil and spray painted gold. Of course, when somebody finds a strange egg on another planet, they should take it aboard their shuttle and leave it unattended. And that's how the magic happens...
The egg hatches, but not before spitting out variously colored puddles of slime. You'd think the slime was critically important to Star Crystal's
plot with the amount of extended close-up shots we get of it, but no such luck. The movie is 93 minutes long, but 26 of those minutes are dedicated solely to slime photography. This is actually somewhat pleasant, since the slime doesn't need to act. In scenes where something does
need to act, Star Crystal
becomes a lot more painful to watch.
So yeah, the egg hatches, and out comes a baby alien, looking not unlike an animated tumor. Also inside the egg was a large quartz crystal, hence the movie's title. We later find out that the crystal is a valuable alien element which can do all sorts of things. Until then, the astronauts decide to utilize it in building a giant laser cannon. They never really explain why they need
a laser cannon, but then again, 99% of what happens in this flick goes unexplained. Get used to it.
The astronauts that the movie just spent 15 minutes introducing and establishing all die aboard their shuttle, having run out of oxygen. At this point, I really started losing faith. I can deal with bad movies, in fact, I like
them. Boring movies, on the other hand, those
are a little tougher to swallow. So when I'm looking at a bunch of blue corpses and a slime-coated alien tumor and the only thing I can think about is the nice red vase atop my television, it's a pretty bad sign. Luckily, things pick up in a big way from this point forth.
Two months later, another
group of astronauts board the shuttle. After surveying the wreckage, some weird shit goes down. Their first ship explodes, leaving them stranded aboard the semi-working old spacecraft that's covered in dead bodies with half-broken mechanics. It's a sad situation, but nothing's more sad than the cast we're stuck with from here on out...
Roger and Cal were only onboard to figure out what went wrong on the shuttle's ill-fated mission, but now they're stuck there for what could be either months or forever
. The guy playing Roger is awful beyond compare, alternating between being really upset about this perilous situation and being totally okay with it. Cal, even when stranded and presumably left for death, is still only interested in nailing chicks. Unfortunately, the chicks aboard this ship are all ugly lunatics with bad hair. In a careful process of elimination, Cal decides to focus his efforts on the ship's resident idiot, Sherry.
Sherry, well, what can I say about Sherry? I'm still not totally sure what her job was supposed to be - I mean, she's obviously part of the crew since she's got the beige uniform on, but if that's the case, then there's a serious lack in NASA's screening process. Sherry spends the entire movie staring at the ceiling, even during conversations with the other characters. In situations that call for her to look depressed or frightened, she still looks at the ceiling, but adds in a biting of her lower lip for effect. Since the director obviously didn't care about his cast's performances in a movie this bad, the other characters are left to fend for themselves during the occasional twenty-second spans where Sherry forgets one of her lines. Some might say that Star Crystal's
very existence disproves any chance that God is real. However, you could make a rebuttal to that, citing that Sherry is one of the first characters to get killed off. Still, I try not to think about God at all when I watch movies like this. If the big man upstairs had any great plans for his creations, I seriously doubt watching Star Crystal
was one of them. I don't want to disappoint the guy.
Rounding out the characters, first up we have Adrianne. She's mean. Adrianne spends most of the movie yelling at Roger in some subversive suggestion that they have an underlying romantic interest in each other, but it comes off more like two retards forced into reading Lockhorns comic strips aloud. While she's a bitch now, she lightens up after most of the cast dies and the threat of being eaten by an alien becomes more clear. Masochist. Research reveals that the people starring in this film didn't appear in any
other movies. So I guess we have a second rebuttal in case anyone tells us God doesn't exist.
The fifth and final oh-so-likeable astronaut is a chick named Billy. In case you couldn't tell from her name and the picture above, Billy looks like the guy outside the OTB who jumps up and down yelling "I THOUGHT TODAY WAS MY DAY, GOD DAMMIT." Billy is incredibly tough to look at, even more so than the slimy alien tumor. The people who made this film obviously felt the same way, since she's the first to go.
Randomly, we'll get shots of the alien. He's all grown up now. We don't get a clear view of what he looks like - just enough to know that he's big enough to eat people. With that, our first death scene:
Billy's working on the laser, and next thing you know, she's covered in long pink tentacles. The alien squeezes all the blood out of her body, leaving her a gooey dead mess. I utilized better special effects in a film I made in the fourth grade about a wiffle ball bat that could fly, and all I did in that
film was throw the bat into the air from an off-camera range. Sherry, the psychotic blonde, finds the corpse and freaks out. And by 'freaking out,' I of course mean that she stares toward the ceiling while shouting 'AH NO AH.'
Adrianne consoles Sherry before heading off to investigate, but while she's gone, the alien attacks! The rest of the crew yells over the ship's intercom system for Sherry to 'throw acid at the alien,' but that just serves to make it more upset. Sherry gets the same treatment - tentacles to the face, blood sucked out, slimy mess finale. I would've screencapped it, but do you really need to see a mannequin with ketchup poured all over it? Bottom line: things are getting serious. The three remaining characters realize that there's something else aboard the ship, and I have to commend them for their investigative skills. I know finding a few bloodied corpses isn't always the best tip-off. Now let's see how they handle the situation...
Using the ship's computer monitors, our heroes are able to track both themselves and the aliens. On a screen showing the floorplan of the shuttle, the red dots denote humans, and the white dot marks the alien. From here on out, 50% of the film is dedicated to this screen, complete with sound effects that I absolutely swear came straight out of Atari's Pong
Hey, there's three characters left. One of them is black. According to the Horror Movie Manual, can you guess which one gets killed off next? Why, you're right! So long, Cal. He gets tentacle-raped just like Sherry and Billy, but for some reason, his corpse looks a little different. Actually, it looks a whole
lot different. Instead of throwing ketchup on a mannequin, this time they spray-painted a skeleton mask black and fit it atop Cal's head. And you know what? We haven't even gotten to the really
good stuff yet. I wouldn't have even bothered reviewing this flick based on the virtues of what we've seen so far, for obvious reasons. In a few minutes, you'll see why it deserves our attention.
They occasionally show the alien lurking around the crystal, which he's removed from the laser for his own devious intentions. They never show the whole thing, rather just a pile of gooey flesh that could either be it's stomach or uncooked chicken.
Though Roger and Adrianne haven't gotten along too famously before, they're the only ones left on the ship. Might as well start fucking. Nah, they don't go full monty, but they're way more into hugging now than they were before. Even when she's supposed to look endearing, Adrianne still appears to have a metal novelty statue of the Empire State Building up her ass. For the next few minutes, everything slows to a crawl. The alien's taken control of the ship's talking computer, Bernice. No really, the ship is run by a talking computer named Bernice. Our heroes are trapped in one of the rooms, with the air supply constantly flipping on and off. Another ship shows up to make a rescue attempt, but the alien tricks it into thinking everything's a-okay. Now here's where things start getting really
Roger was surprised to find that the alien had fixed certain parts of the ship which would've spelled out doom for our heroes otherwise. Then, during a meteor shower, the alien uses its mystical powers to cover the shuttle with a force field. (the meteor shower is portrayed by throwing dirt bombs at a model airplane) Nobody's sure exactly why this murderous monster seems to be doing nice
things, but there's no time for reflection - Roger and Adrianne are about to meet it for the very first time.
Okay, are you ready for this? The alien is a good guy. That's right. All those previous grisly murders were just misunderstandings. After reading a computerized version of the Bible, (I'm serious) the alien learned enough about human nature and culture to both speak English and get along with the characters like an old friend. He tells them that he's named 'Gar,' and only killed their friends out of fear that they'd kill him first. Since Gar speaks in a voice like that cow from The Simpsons that said 'tomacco,' you'd think they'd keep his lines to a minimum. No sir - Gar ends up talking for the next ten minutes straight.
Gar explains that the crystal is actually a very advanced computer, allowing him to take control of the ship and repair it's broken parts. He repeatedly apologizes for killing everyone else before promising to help our heroes make it safely back to Earth. What in God's name? Why the frig did they make Star Crystal
? Three-fourths of the movie is about an alien who uses spiked tentacles to suck the blood out of whatever it can catch, and now we're supposed to believe that it's just a cherubic and cute extraterrestrial that probably eats Reese's Pieces? Believe it or not, it still
The final fifteen minutes of the movie show Gar and the humans getting to know each other. Gar and Roger share an intimate moment while fixing something with a lot of Christmas lights stapled to it, leading to another scene with the three idiots having dinner together. What the hell am I watching here? People always talk about movies doing unnecessary 180s, but this is the first one to truly and literally do it. It's like watching two completely different films all lumped onto one tape with the same stupid cast and same cardboard set. This is the same alien that just did a vampire job on half the crew, and now Adrianne's bringing it dinner
? Even the music's different, changing from your standard horror score to a takeoff on the Brady Bunch theme.
Next up, Gar and Roger play a futuristic version of chess. Roger and Gar play chess?! After the alien wins, Roger gets all pissed off, prompting Gar to ask Adrianne: "why is he such a jerk?" No, I'm not kidding. Star Crystal
really has to be seen to be believed. Who knows, this might just be some kind of highbrow art that's too complex for me to understand.
I'm not really sure how the movie ended. I think Gar sacrificed itself to get Roger and Adrianne aboard a safer ship, but it was incredibly hard to follow. Especially because I really lost all interest by this point. If you get the feeling that this was a bad movie, you're right. Still, you can't imagine just how bad it is until you've actually seen it. The script has lines like "I'm with Sherry. She says Billy is dead. As far as I can tell, it has something to do with the slime all over Sherry's pants." The effects are beyond terrible - in space scenes, you'll often notice 'planets' shaking around violently for no reason. And if they're not shaking, the string holding them up is clearly visible. It's awful on every level, but the bad traits run a gamut so large that Star Crystal
actually ends up being watchable.
Overall: Some people have e-mailed me asking why I don't review old horror movies too often anymore. This is why. But, since you don't have to figure out a way to write about the shitty crap you watch afterwards, I've gotta recommend this one. It doesn't have the things we usually look for in bad movies - there's not a whole lot of blood, random sex scenes, or anything of that sort. It's certainly unique, though. Recommended for those who enjoy terrible b-movies and for anyone who ever wanted to see a pile of alien guts read an electronic bible. 6 outta 10.