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Anchor Bay presents
Star Crystal (1985)

"Yes SC-45, we read you, we have an emergency situation. Repeat: emergency situation! Unknown lifeform has killed three of the crew, need assistance. Repeat: need assistance!"
- Roger

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: August 11, 2003

Stars: Juston Campbell, Faye Bolt, John W. Smith
Director: Lance Lindsay

MPAA Rating: R for (sci-fi gore)
Run Time: 01h:33m:41s
Release Date: June 24, 2003
UPC: 013131220797
Genre: sci-fi


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
D- D-C-C- D-

DVD Review

Star Crystal was part of the post-Alien sci-fi horror boom, and is one of the worst in the genre (which has generated some bad movies). The budget was obviously miniscule, as the special effects are laughable throughout, even by 1985 standards. The thing is, Alien had a low budget, too, but it was made by intelligent and creative people who knew how to make a great film without a great investment. Judging by the way "special" effects are allowed to wither and die onscreen, Star Crystal was, apparently, made by morons, or in about 15 minutes.

Co-written and directed by Lance Lindsay (director of 1990's Real Bullets, which at least starred Martin Landau), Star Crystal is the story of a bunch of very stupid people trapped onboard a space station with a misunderstood (and also fairly stupid) slimy alien monster. Actually, the first ten minutes are about some scientists who walk around on Mars for awhile and then dig up a giant baked potato, which, unbeknownst to them, hatches once they bring it onboard their ship, revealing a giant quartz crystal and a sock puppet covered in goop. Then, after we spend about ten (painful) minutes watching the actors flail around, all those characters die because of a computer malfunction that shuts off their air. Then we visit a space station, where some sort of council is having an emergency meeting about the tragedy (which we learn quickly, thanks to some helpful text exposition). The ship in question is docked there, too, and no sooner have we spent another ten minutes with another group of boring people, than a reactor explodes, and they all die, too. This movie is 90 minutes long, people.

Once we've finally gotten rid of all of those peripheral characters and wasted 20 minutes, we can finally start the movie proper. Which isn't that much different. Now we get to know five more boring characters, including Roger and Adrianne (the cast is listed but not credited, so I don't know who plays who), who get most of the lines. The others aren't really worth mentioning, as they are merely fodder for the sock puppet, now much larger and looking a little like E.T.'s "slower" cousin. He's pissed because he had to ride the short baked potato to alien school, or so we think, and before we know it, the movie is over. Then we wake up and restart the DVD player, because we fell asleep. Then we watch the actual ending, which is very stupid.

It's fun to try and spot the ways the director tried to hide the low budget, like the "emergency conference room" that's pitch black, but with a lighted table in the middle. Or the "turbo lift," a black wall with some lights on it. Or the "space station," an empty mall (escalators—futuristic!). Lack of money was probably a boon, anyway, since the more elaborate sets look like knock-offs from better movies, like the computer room Xerox of "Mother" from Alien and the Rebel Base-esque hallways of the orbiting station. The special effects are in the style of Battlestar Galactia, except the "motion controlled" camera use to shoot the models is obviously handheld. Which you'll notice, since every few seconds there is a lengthy cut to the ship, to remind us that, yes, we are still in space.

In fact, Star Crystal is a much better vehicle for unintentional amusement than shocks and scares. If I weren't trying to pick out all of the everyday clothes thrown together to create futurewear (khaki shirt and patches for officers, T-shirt with iron-ons for soldiers, backwards trucker hat for that guy who dies right away), I might find myself bored by the inane dialogue and flat acting. Or at least more bored.

Make sure to sit through the end credits and enjoy the touching ballad Crystal of a Star, by Indira.

Rating for Style: D-
Rating for Substance: D-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Star Crystal was a low-budget film, and I doubt it ever looked great, but it certainly doesn't play well on DVD. The source print shows a lot of grain and some dirt, and colors are drab and lifeless, with some persistent smearing. Black level is fairly good at times, but intermittently, dark scenes will look gray and hazy, and throughout, contrasting textures tend to bloom against one another. I didn't spot any major artifacts, just some occasional aliasing on hard lines and complex patterns.

Image Transfer Grade: C-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The original mono track sounds pretty thin and harsh. Dialogue is a little muddy, but generally clear enough, but the 1980s synthesizer score sounds harsh and airy, and even more unpleasant than 1980s synthesizer scores usually sound.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: As bare as they come—static menus, chapter stops, and no subtitles.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

Star Crystal is recommended only to fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 desperate for a bad movie to criticize. Or masochists. MSTies and masochists.

 


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