STAR CRYSTAL (1986) Blu-ray
Director: Lance Lindsay
Kino Lorber

Kino Lorber digs deep into the New World vaults for their Blu-ray of the sci-fi oddity STAR CRYSTAL.

On a routine Mars expedition, a pair of scavengers bring back a strange rock to Shuttlecraft 37 which hatches a strange crystal and a rapidly-growing organism. Two months later, the ship drifts back to the space station with the entire crew dead of suffocation when a short knocked out the oxygen supply. While jokester computer programmer Roger Campbell (C. Juston Campbell, REAL BULLETS), cocky security officer Cal (John W. Smith), officious doctor Adrian (Faye Bolt), and hardass engineer Billi (Marcia Linn) are repairing the ship's systems and looking for records of the expedition, a reactor meltdown on the space station has them and cook Sherrie (Taylor Kingsley) commandeering SC37 to escape before the massive explosion. They soon discover, however, that they are not alone on the shuttlecraft as the still-growing creature kills and drains them of their fluids one by one. The survivors manage to barricade themselves in the control room and hope to make it to a supply depot within a few days, having to vie with the alien for control of the ship's computer system known as Bernice and realize that they are also reliant on the creature's abilities when they encounter a meteor storm. As they try to learn everything they can about their adversary, it too is learning as much or more about them.

STAR CRYSTAL could have been a standard alien body count film with a fair amount of gore, some good creature effects, and a claustrophobic setting, but it is poorly acted and laughably-plotted. The film's visual effects – supervised by Lewis Abernathy, who would go on to helm HOUSE IV – are on the level of many of the more ambitious low-budget science fiction films of the eighties, but there are just as many scenes shot in close-up against black backgrounds and the shuttlecraft is so small that characters have to crawl through corridors on all fours. After roughly an hour dotted with gore and so-so tension, the third act takes a hell of a tonal shift towards earnestness that might have looked good on paper in that it recalled pre-ALIEN/STAR WARS science fiction in which the positive qualities that define humanity facilitate communication between enemies; here, given what has come before, it comes across as "whoops, sorry about gruesomely slaughtering and consuming your friends." The film looks as good as it does thanks to dependable cinematographer Robert Caramico (LEMORA, LADY DRACULA) and the synth score of Doug Katsaros (THE TICK) give ethereal accompaniment to the film's more dramatic or reflective moments but also attempts to enhance the film's flat comic relief moments with some lightness that feels more like sitcom accompaniment; the theme song "Crystal of a Star" by voice artist Stefani Christopherson (SCOOBY DOO's Daphne), on the other hand, is unforgettable for better or worse.

Released theatrically and on cassette by New World, STAR CRYSTAL was one of the New World titles not marked for the special edition treatment by Anchor Bay who gave it a barebones anamorphic DVD. Derived from a brand new high definition master, Kino Lorber's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen Blu-ray looks better than it deserves after some wobble during the opening credits. Saturated colors from the blood, clothing accents, and Gar himself are striking against the muted grays and blues of the ship interiors. The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono audio track reveals some uneven mixing and a little bit of hiss during the quieter moments but makes its range known right away with the bold presence of the instrumental version of the theme song. There are no subtitle or caption options. The sole extras are the film's trailer (1:30) and trailers for THE PIT, ASTRO- ZOMBIES, STRYKER, and BEWARE! THE BLOB. (Eric Cotenas)