Color, 1986, 93 mins. 55 secs.
Directed by Lance Lindsay
Starring C. Juston Campbell, Faye Bolt, John W. Smith, Taylor Kingsley, Marcia Linn
Kino Lorber (Blu-ray & DVD) (US RA/R1 HD/NTSC), Anchor Bay (DVD) (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)
Given a very improbable theatrical release just before straight-to-video productions became standard for micro-budget sci-fi films, the misleadingly named Star Crystal is a pretty far cry from the dreamy fantasy you might imagine. Instead it's a gory Alien clone, at least for the first half, before it morphs into something even weirder that won't be spoiled here.
During a "routine Mars expedition near Crater Olympus Mons, the year 2032," two astronauts excavate a rock from the surface of the planet and bring it back on their ship -- only for their discovery to split open, reveal a giant sparkly two-pronged crystal, and cause the deaths of everyone on board. A couple of months later, the ship ends up at its home space station, where disaster sends several survivors back onto the ship -- where a pink gooey monster has been bred from the crystal with motives that remain mysterious until it starts killing off the various crew members. Ostensible leaders Roger (Campbell) and Adrian (Bolt) are stuck keeping order together with a return back to Earth their only hope, except they don't have enough food to nourish everyone for the journey. When they aren't dealing with the completely illogical design of the ship itself, the dwindling number of living humans has to figure out a way to outwit the space predator or find another way entirely to deal with its presence. It all ends, incredibly enough, with a synth pop song called "Crystal of a Star" performed by "Stefani Christopherson, aka Indira," best known for Wicked Wicked and doing the original voice of Daphne on Scooby Doo, Where Are You! You can't make this up.
Given a sparse theatrical release with a bizarre poster featuring a sharp-fanged beast unlike anything in the actual film, Star Crystal hit VHS from New World as a video store perennial in the late '80s and then hit the LP-speed bargain tape circuit from Starmaker (like most other New World titles of the era). Needless to say it never burned up the rental charts with people generally confused by its threadbare production values, lack of common sense, and aesthetic far closer to a student film than a legitimate professional production. However, that shoddiness is also part of its weird charm if you're in a forgiving mood (or just want a really daffy space monster movie), and there's no denying that the wacko direction it takes in the final stretch (utterly denying the audience of any kind of slam-bang finale in favor of something way more sentimental) is something that sticks in your memory, for better or worse.
The first widescreen release of the film came from Anchor Bay on DVD in 2003, doing an adequate enough job of presenting the film in better condition than before. There's only so much you can do with the source material (which is very colorful and gaudy but not exactly slick), but the revisit from Kino Lorber in 2017 on separate Blu-ray and DVD editions gives it a good shot with a fresh scan that wrings out about as much vibrancy and detail from the film as possible. The DTS-HD MA English 2.0 audio is fine all things considered, giving the most support to one of the film's stronger assets, its striking electronic score by Doug Katsaros. Extras include the theatrical trailer and bonus ones for other oddities in the Kino Lorber library, namely The Pit, Astro Zombies, Stryker, and Beware! The Blob.
Reviewed on July 6, 2017.