When I walked in that day and picked up Star Crystal from that very bin and took one long look at the cover, I realized without question that this was what would be considered absolute entertainment gold... on Bizarro World!
Though it's never good to judge a book by its cover, in this case, predicting the content of a DVD by its inlay card was pretty much dead on. Star Crystal is most assuredly a bad, bad, bad film. You know all those Italian Rip offs of Alien that popped up all over tarnation and back in the 1980s? Well, welcome to just one more... made right here in the good old USA.
Astronauts land on a loud, dangerous and windy planet (Mars, interestingly enough) in their amazing space suits, where they discover a strange object that somehow contains an alien within it. When they hop back aboard their crappy little freighter, the egg cracks and an infant monster with bulging eyes and shiny, sharp teeth pops out screaming. Need I tell you they're all toast? Need I add: Duh?
But this isn't about those guys! No... it's about the next jerks who occupy that little ship. Some maintenance crew is assigned to work on it (I mean, who cares that everybody's dead, fix the car, kids) while the slimy menace is still lurking around and growing. Soon, the body count is higher than that of Jason X, and for the same reasons. The only survivors are the goofy maintenance crew who now find themselves stranded way, way, way out in the great wide open, still trapped with My Favorite Martian!
Just like on Alien, they manage to track the monster using motion detectors and minding the sheddings and droppings the lil' puppet leaves behind. Just like on Alien they find themselves dropping like flies in an outer space reenactment of And Then There Were None!
The characters are even stock, from the early-offed homosexual (Marcia Linn's Lieutenant Billi Lynn) to the No-Nonsense Military Man with a hidden heart of gold (John W. Smith's Cal) to the All-Business-So-She-Can-Be-Taken-Seriously Woman who really needs to let her sexuality free and discover the feminine side of herself (Faye Bolt's Dr. Adrian Kimberly) to the female techie there to provide plenty of screaming and yelling (Taylor Kingsley's Sherrie Stevens) to the computer geek who is really the only guy who can possibly get everyone out of this mess (C. Juston Campbell's Roger Campbell).
Unlike Alien (and the other knock offs thereof), this particular Star Beast isn't just a brain dead eating machine whose danger comes from its hunger and power. Instead, this is a growing and intelligent creature whose cunning is even stronger than its malice. To this end, it starts to restructure the ship and take control using the Star Crystal of the title, an extra-terrestrial computer it was born with (handy, don't you think)? This thing is as likely to use technology or telekinesis to kill his human enemies as his natural predatory gifts.
To the credit of Star Crystal, its writer/ director Lance Lindsay and his writing partner Eric Woster (who also produced), there is a somewhat respectable set design to this very low budget movie. It's about thirty or forty years out of date, looking less sophisticated than something out of Forbidden Planet, but considering the budget, it's not that bad. The use of miniatures is also interesting. Cheap as hell, and they never look like anything more than hobby shop model kits, but there are bad movies made today on similar budgets that don't look this good. (And I mean that in a relative way, of course... this isn't to say that they look particularly good!)
Further, and this is very interesting, even considering the terrible, terrible acting and the fact that there is no nudity whatsoever in this turkey, it's hard not to like the characters at least a little bit. In truth, though, I still never could decide who to root for, the humans or the seemingly malevolent space slug.
The real aspect to this flick that crosses the boundary into the truly bad is the supreme sanctimony found in the last reel. That's if you get to the last reel. Star Crystal is yet another flick that features the actors watching other parts of the film on a screen and acting bored. It's sort of like MST3K in reverse. But I digress. Lindsay throws in a strong anti-racism message here, or tries to, that transcends by leaps and bounds my mere "never judge a book by its cover" warning above. I am loathe to offer spoilers, even for this film, but when the horror gives way to cuteness one must wonder what meteor shower killed the logic circuits on this ship.
In that respect, however, it's easy to see that Star Crystal means well, even if it doesn't succeed in its overall goals or even any real entertainment value. It's yet another well-intentioned attempt by independent amateur film makers to get their movie out there... something not everybody gets to do in their lifetimes. Sure it's derivative tripe, but Lindsay and Woster are semi-original in their lack of originality. Am I making excuses for this film? Nope. It still gets a DOG! A Star Dog... Sirius, if you will. Sigh. What a movie. Well, at least they didn't all break out acoustic guitars and perform some happy be-in music in the final act. Dog Days indeed! See you in the next reel!
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