It is the year 2035. Scientists have discovered a new life form. They're about to wish they hadn't.
Year of Release: 1986
Genre: Science Fiction/Horror
Running Time: 93 minutes (1:33)
Director: Lance Lindsay
C. Juston Campbell ... Roger Campbell
Faye Bolt ... Dr. Adrian Kimberly
John W. Smith ... Cal
Taylor Kingsley ... Sherrie Stevens
Marcia Linn ... Lieutenant Billi Lynn
In the black and weightless vacuum of deep space, far from the warmth and light of humankind, in the sanctuary of its dazzling Star Crystal, an extra-terrestrial nightmare lies in wait for the unfortunate souls who discover it.
When two astronauts bring a curious-shaped rock on board their shuttle, they set in motion a deadly chain of events. For encased within the rock are a tiny creature called GAR and its life force, the Star Crystal. GAR immediately seeks out and destroys all human life surrounding him, growing in size and intelligence with each new attack.
Soon only two humans remain - Roger, a computer expert, and Adrian, a medical technician - on a last desperate attempt to escape. But... supplies are dwindling, their craft is undermanned, and the mysterious and murderous alien has tapped into their main computer. The two have managed to dodge GAR's attacks, but will they be able to survive their final face to face confrontation?
Star Crystal, remindin' us that even when it seems like you're alone in the vastness of outer space, it's critical that the slow movin' vehicles leave their flashers on. You never know when an X-wing formation might come outta nowhere an tear the fender clean offa your shuttle craft. Ever try to stop an exchange insurance info in the middle of space? It's real fuggin' inconvenient. I was gonna complain about the spectacularly misleadin' cover art on this one but that infuriatin' aspect is nudged out just barely by the fact that the MPAA actually stuck an R ratin' on this thing. This is rated R? THIS? Come on you guys, some of us regular people out here in the real world depend on that R ratin' to weed out the weak kneed hippy bullstuff an it seriously kicks our weekend plans right in the nanners when you try brandin' somethin' like this an R. This is the same ratin' you AV club rejects slapped on movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre an Nightmare on Elm Street, what the heck is wrong with you people? This thing's on par with your average episode of Goosebumps an you just stamp the R on it willy nilly an lead us to believe that this thing even has a shot at scorin' a figure higher'n the collective IQ of the Scientology community on even one of the three Bs? (that's blood, breasts, an beasts for anybody not familiar with the Briggsian rating system) Givin' this movie an R ratin' is like callin' My Boyfriend's Back a zombie movie. If this were made today it could almost get a PG ratin', which, incidentally, is the same ratin' these ignits gave Jaws. You remember Jaws, right? The one were this gigantic Cuisinart with fins propels itself up onto a boat an chews up Robert Shaw like a pan of foul mouthed meat loaf? Yeah, PG. Oh but this, this might scare the children, what with all the poorly executed special effects an slimy tendrils that look like extension cords coated with placenta juice. I suppose if you were to look at it with the mindset that any of the five or six people workin' on this thing knew anything about casting, pacing, writing, or how to make somethin' look like it's not bein' manipulated by a pair of salad tongs that it could be considered pretty terrifyin'. But by any of the usual standards of what induces terror, this thing's about as scary as one of them chihuahua dogs wearin' a Mr. Rogers sweater. An I know what you're thinkin' now, you're thinkin' that if the gore is lacking it prolly got an R based upon the far more egregious sin of showin' a nekkid woman with a set of tether balls hangin' offa her chest, but I can assure you there aren't even any debilitatin' D cups anywhere in the movie, so why's this movie got the MPAA seal of disapproval? How much're these guys makin' a year again? Maybe the GOP's right. Maybe it's true that America's lost it's work ethic after all. Buncha deadbeats.
I guess it's not all bad. I can honestly say this is easily the best outer space epic I've ever seen that features a murderous alien life form who finds religion an learns the error of his ways. I think Jehovah's Witnesses made this movie or somethin', it makes sense if you figure they just about had to try somethin' different after bein' ignored worse than an inconvenient bible passage. But anyway, here're just a few of the many, many bits of insight I learned from sittin' through this train wreck. First, if you're trapped in a space shuttle that'd normally burn up on reentry, you can pretty easily reconfigure the thing that generates the power necessary to make the goll durn thing GO so it'll shield you as you pass through a planet's atmosphere. Second, in Martian rules football there's no such thing as a forward lateral, cause I ain't seen anything that egregious since the Music City Miracle. An third, after a long day of gettin' outsmarted by a week old alien infant, nothin' soothes the sting of impotent rage quite like space fondu. These're all interestin' enough, but I think a serious issue that this movie actually settles is that stupid peak oil debate that's been goin' on since the 50s. After watchin' this movie, it can be determined definitively that not only is oil at no risk of runnin' out, but we're actually gonna find so much of it that even in the future Coke containers'll STILL be made of petroleum products. Heck, all the space ships in the movie're made made of it too, an we've been hearin' about this "problem" for how long now? At least since TV sitcoms required couples to have twin beds, I know that much. An yet we're expected to believe that if we don't all rush out an drop 35 grand on a Chevy Volt everybody's gonna end up fightin' to the death for the last gallon of premium unleaded like in Mad Max. It's a damn good thing I watched this when I did, I was just about to drink the Kool Aid an max out my credit cards to do that very thing. They ALMOST had me. Now, just for that deception, I'ma keep my 1976 Ford Bronco with no catalytic converter on the road for the next 25 years just to burn their bacon. My bacon on the other hand, will sizzle flawlessly on the exhaust manifold until scrumptious.
The movie begins with a manned expedition to Mars where these two NASCAR fans're wavin' a stud finder around til they discover this enormous popcorn ball wrapped in tin foil buried in the ground an decide to take it back to their ship. No idea why, nobody likes popcorn balls even when they're fresh. But they take the thing back anyway an ask the scientician what he thinks it is an he tells 'em it's a rock, an prolly not too dissimilar from the ones that must've collided with these two rednecks' craniums durin' that critical development stage in their childhoods. Then once everybody's outta sight the tin foil cracks open an starts glowin' redder'n a porn star's butthole an starts drippin' Martian manchowder all over the floor til the tin foil falls off an reveals what appears to be part of Space Godzilla's shoulder armor. Then the space spooge starts turnin' into a Creeping Terror the color of Pepto Bismol an shortly thereafter the ship's IBM 5150 starts warnin' about an engine shut down an the oxygen generator goes out an suffocates everybody worse than your clingy ex-girlfriend. A couple months later, the galactic senate finally holds a conference to figure out who has to tell the crew's families about what happened when all the sudden the international space station starts gyratin' like an off balance Kenmore appliance an pretty quick the place blows up like a potato in the microwave. Noooooooooo! My Blondie albums an leg warmers were in there! Unfortunately, a trio of dweebs an a couple pork chops that happened to be stumblin' by are able to escape in the previous crew's shuttle craft just in time to watch the senate chamber explode in the rear view mirror. Well that's lovely, apparently the Chinese still have the manufacturing industry cornered at this point in the future. In any event, the sole survivors are the dweebs (Roger the pathetic ineffectual captain that makes Shatner look like Rambo, and Cal who's only real concern is where da white women at), Chief Engineer Carla Tortelli, twinkie first class Sherrie Stevens, an Dr. Adrian "I'm so much better than this ship" Kimberly. So the dweebs decide that it's only logical that they be in charge an that the women handle the cookin' an the laundry like God intended an Roger plots a course for the nearest CostCo so they can grab some Tang an a few Rubik's cubes to ward off the space madness cause it's gonna take 18 months to get back to Earth. Only when he tries to engage the computer tells 'im the propulsion system's up on blocks, so he has to radio Mrs. Scott down in the engine room til she comes unglued on 'im an explains that the last crew was a worthless pack of Clavins an that she's gonna need some time to fix all the asshattery.
Then Roger calls Adrian to ask what she sees in that Rocky guy an tells 'er he can be just as tough when he really wants to, an she tells 'im she's been doin' some tests on their water supply an that half of it looks like it came outta the storage tanks at Fukushima an that if he'll bugger off for five minutes she'll figure out why. Dumbass shouldn't be talkin' on the phone while he's drivin' the ship anyway. Then Carla calls Roger up an tells 'im she's got the propulsion system purrin' like a kitten, only when she hangs the phone up these extension cords covered in K-Y jelly come outta nowhere an tie 'er up like like a blue ribbon bull an proceed to suck all the life out of 'er quicker'n a job in the service industry. While that's goin' on, the twinkie brings Cal an Roger their frozen hot pocket ration an Roger asks 'er if she can go down to the engine room an get Carla to call 'im cause she's stopped pickin' up the phone ever since he made that Brillo crack about 'er hair. So little Sherrie Homemaker goes down to the engine room an... she's got blood on 'er boots. Yeah I bet this turns out just fine, nice goin' guys, way to edit. Anyway, she finds Carla's meat puddle an runs to Adrian's lab where she tells 'er she found Carla on the floor lookin' like a Bavarian creme donut that had all the fillin' sucked out. So Adrian tells Sherrie to stay there an lock the door while she goes an runs some tests an pretty quick Roger (who's taken the five minutes since Sherrie left to get drunker'n John Boehner after a congressional hearing) starts drunk dialin' Adrian over the emergency intercom tryin' to get 'er to talk about their relationship. What the heck is this mess? Looks like the Super Mario Brothers designed this space ship, all the hallways're 3 an a half foot tall circular passages... oh whatever. So anyway, Adrian goes to lend the princess a hand in the mushroom land an when she gets there she has Roger run the placenta sample she scrapped offa Sherrie through the computer, only to find out it's from an unknown life form that doesn't require oxygen or lubrication. Then Captain Jirk checks the shuttle craft's heat signature radar system that they apparently installed to catch people takin' unauthorized smoke breaks an tells Cal an Adrian that the dot in the engine room ain't Carla cause he'd know her blip anywhere an all the sudden the blip (it's the only white one, the rest are red) starts drooling its way towards Sherrie. Course Sherrie's dumber'n a post an only got to be on the space station at all cause she's the post with the most if you follow me, an when she goes to lock the door Slimer slops his way in an... well lets just say that for once she's the one gettin' all 'er fluids sucked out.
Meanwhile, Cal's taken off to rescue 'er, only by the time he shows up she's propped up in the corner lookin' like the Cryptkeeper an the point of view monster that seems to have the vapors for some reason starts chasin' 'im back through the pipe maze. To the bridge! Unfortunately it's not long before this claw that looks like a burnt fish stick trident bein' guided by a coat hanger grabs ahold of Cal an slimes 'im before drainin' 'im like a joint bank account an Roger opens up the nearby escape hatch to suck the thing out. Fortunately, the thing's wearin' gravity boots an a good sturdy wind breaker as Roger succeeds only in gettin' it good an P.O.'d by tryin' to give it the cold shoulder an has to slam the door to the command center just before it can get inside. A few hours later, the sentient snot rocket decides to go all eye for an eye an see how the humans enjoy an oxygen free environment an cuts off their air supply like they're patients with no health insurance. Unlike Sherrie, Roger an Adrian's brains can't function without oxygen, so Roger has to interrogate the computer an finds out that it's just followin' orders an pretty quick he gets this look on his face like he just log jammed the toilet an can't find the shut off valve for the water. Once he gets the central air flowin' in the command center again he starts realizin' they're in way over their heads, so they start goin' through the home videos the previous crew shot while they were on Mars lookin' for anything that may break the case. Oh gross, what's the Hulk Hogan sex tape doin' in here?! Shut that off right this minute! Yeesh. Then all the sudden this space trucker starts broadcastin' over the CB radio askin' 'em if there're any Smokies nearby so they'll know if it's okay to go above Warp 5. Uh, breaker breaker, we've got a nasty glopola monster on board an need beamed offa this jalopy, come back. Unfortunately, their transponder ain't workin', so the intergalactic teamster tells 'im to move into the granny lane if everything's nominal an the Sloppy Joe beast does just that while Roger starts goin' ape shit on the wall as he watches the rooster cruiser take the exit ramp into the Flying J. Then Adrian produces some more factoids from who knows where that indicate the monster's nothin' but a punk kid that was only an infant when the original crew cradle robbed it an that it's gettin' smarter by the minute like an Asian teenager in a library. I told those guys those Baby Einstein tapes were a bad idea, but noooooo, nobody listens to the bad movie critic.
Then the ship comes to a complete stop in the middle of space an the space trucker comes back on the CB an tells 'em to quit violatin' the laws of physics an to get their hineys outta there cause they're in the path of a deadly storm of Milk Duds that're about to rain chocolatey destruction down on 'em. Fortunately, the Duds all bounce off like a hugger offa Lacey Wildd an when Roger asks the computer why they're not havin' to frantically try duct tapin' all the hull breaches shut it tells 'im there's a force field around the ship an he gets this look on his face like he only just now realized he's been relieved of command. A couple days later, Roger realizes he's startin' to drool over Adrian in a completely different unhealthy fashion an figures he's gonna have to head out into the ship an grab some vittles before they end up like the Donner party. So he grabs an oxygen mask an heads for the lab when all the sudden Cal's now-rubbery body drops down out of a vent an bounces around like the Michelin Man an causes Roger to lose his oxygen mask. Apparently the vacuum of space was set on "hardwood floors" when Rog' blew the hatch earlier. But anyway, he makes it to the lab, grabs the Z-rations an heads back to the control room, only he realizes en route that not only did the glopola monster not try chewin' out his liver, but it turned the air supply back on. So then they cook up some space fondu an do a little more research on the ship's status an discover the little bugger's put 'em back on course, all the while it's over in the lab learnin' the error of its ways after findin' religion in the computer's database. Kinda ironic when you consider it was causin' everybody else to lose theirs what with all the slaughterin' of innocents earlier. Then the computer chimes in an tells Roger they're gonna put a huge dent in the dock doors of the supply station's loadin' area if he don't hit the brake on the space ship pretty quick, so he heads back to the lab cause... well cause they couldn't figure out a better plot device to get 'im back in the same room with the monster alright? That's where the brakes are, okay? An if you think that's inconvenient, the lever for the landin' gear's located in the pot. Which is real bad when the janitor's in there moppin' an you're really in a hurry to deploy 'em. So Roger mans up, puts on his game face, an tells Adrian not to open the door until she hears 'im tell 'er to. Nevermind that the little creep's managed to gain control of your computer system that was programmed only to accept his voice. Will cut it here cause... well things try to go from Alien to E.T. in about fifteen minutes an it's a little ridiculous.
Alrighty, well, this one would have made a great Mystery Science Theater episode. It's got a seemingly never ending supply of bad dialog, a good 20+ minutes of the movie are complete padding, and the overall feel of the movie is that it hasn't got the slightest idea what it's supposed to be. I didn't make mention of it in the plot summary because it's not at all important, but there's actually a big to do about this admiral coming to the space station for a meeting regarding what happened to the previous crew of the space shuttle, but within three minutes of the guy's arrival, the space station goes tits up and explodes like a papier-mache fireball. It's different, I'll give 'em that. Anybody else would have just had a new crew find the ship drifting in space and investigated. But then they wouldn't be making a big production of something that ultimately won't matter five minutes later, so I guess that's why they didn't. The dialog is really, really inane to the point of irrelevance, and makes desperate stabs at humor that fall flatter'n a nun after six Tequila shooters. You've also got a few instances of bad movie science, as well as a couple misspelled words on the computer screens, which is always a good indication that you're in for a turkey. I'm also pretty sure there were more continuity lapses than the one I noticed. That one was just particularly bad because it goes on for so long and spoils (such as you can with a movie of this caliber) the fate of the character. In addition to all those problems, the monster is completely ridiculous when you finally see it, and not just because it looks silly. Its basic form does not include any of those tentacles or claws we'd been seeing throughout the movie up to that point, and on top of that, the movie features periodic status shots of it growing and taking on its final form as the movie goes on, but if it's not actually developed, how the heck is it running around the ship killing these people? And by the end when you actually get a look at it and see how slowly it does everything (it's animatronic), the idea that it could be any more of a danger than a gigantic snail is laughable to say the least. In other words, one's suspension of disbelief is pretty well shattered the moment you see the creature. I've certainly seen monsters that've looked worse, there's no question about that. It's really more of the logistics involved with this thing being capable of the things we know it's done up to this point. It just doesn't work, although the ending is certainly different. So if "different" is a major force of redemption for you, you may be interested.
Okay then, lets suck all the life outta this thing an show it exactly how it feels to have that happen when you're supposed to be having a good time. The plot is... oh, to be fair, there really isn't anything wrong with this movie's premise. It's the same basic idea as Alien, though any comparisons to that movie stop here, so I really can't find too much fault with the plot. The execution of the plot, on the other hand, has more shortcomings than the Healthcare.gov website. The acting is pretty lame. Lame seems to be the perfect term as it's not only corny and pathetic, but it just doesn't have any life. Everyone is a cardboard representation of the role they're supposed to be playing, and none of them can be taken the least bit seriously during any point in the movie. Marcia Linn is probably the least terrible as Chief Engineer Carla Tortelli, but even she's really unpolished. I'm sure you'll be surprised to learn that of the entire cast, only six of them ever worked again, and even the ones that did, didn't do much. Wanna see the list of credits for the actors that ever worked again, and that did so on a movie from a genre that interests me? Here ya go: Randall England (Hellborn). I'm not goin' too fast for ya am I? Alrighty, just checking. So yeah, it's bad.
The special effects are where it really starts to take it in the ass. The space ship models and space station models are just barely a step above the kinda thing you'd see in a Mystery Science Theater host segment. Though a critical difference there is, those are supposed to look that way. Some shots are worse than others, and they tend to look better when they're moving away from the camera than they do when they're coming toward it, but they're still pretty bad miniatures. The gore effects, for the most part, are pretty bad as well. The tentacles look like extension cords, you can generally tell exactly how they're being manipulated and from how far off screen, and everything just looks half-assed. It's entirely possible that those were due to budget constraints, but it doesn't do much to assuage the pain of it all. The creature, as I mentioned, isn't the worst effect in the history of mankind (far from it really, considering just how bad things used to look in the 50s) but it's below the standards of the 1980s. I will say that the dessicated body of the twinkie, Sherrie, looked pretty decent. But for every one of those effects that don't completely reek, you've got five or six that do. I didn't mention it in the plot synopsis, but in the scene where Cal's character is being vacuum packed, they use another person's arm (presumably a woman's) to give the illusion that it's being drained and thus is shrinking. That's pathetic enough, but they didn't coat the arm with enough slime to hide the fact that the woman was WHITE when Cal's character was black. So yeah, that happened. The short version is that the element that should be the linchpin is more of a screw with the head broken off. The shooting locations... are acceptable. There's a lot of classic 80s science fiction control panels and electronic equipment around that I always enjoy in a cheesy sci fi movie, and in general the sets work about as well as you can expect from a movie of this budget and era. Though I think at least part of the footage from on board the space station was shot in an airport, and the surface of Mars has a lovely blue sky and a lot of scrub brush growing nearby. But good enough, we'll say on that front. As for the soundtrack, well, nothing it could do was going to save this flop anyway, but it's certainly not at all effective in generating any kind of serious mood. It's one of those 80s synth soundtracks that were generally used to give the movie a futuristic feel, only this one is particularly counter intuitive in that regard. Any suspense the movie might actually have had, would have been sucked out by its silliness. Fortunately, it didn't have any, so the soundtrack isn't really all that damaging. Overall, this one's a real stinker, and not recommended to anyone save those that can enjoy a bad movie without the assistance of Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo.