The leads of the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises have come to verbal blows as of late, and a certain mellifluous Enterprise helmsman has attempted to ameliorate the situation. What this public spat ignores is that there's a superior Star film out there, one that eschews flights of fancy and makes your appreciate the grim, icy mechanics of our lousy reality. I am, of course, talking about the 1986 extraterrestrial-flan masterwork Star Crystal.
As you may have noticed, William Shatner fired the opening salvo back in September, which Carrie Fisher returned her own riposte. This in turn prompted a recent conciliatory video from George Takei, who urged Trek and Wars fans to focus their vitriol on the funfetti-pigmented wampyrs of Twilight.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that Mr. Takei's honeyed pipes can make even the most wretched topic eminently listenable. But rallying against Twilight seems, well, so 2010.
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Old bromides aside, it's also a bit of a false dichotomy: Twilight insanity is still fresh-faced compared to those decades-old warhorses of genre science fiction. It still has plenty of time to peter out and become a dusty school library staple like Superfudge. For all we know, commitment-phobic cyclopses could be the new hot shit come 2014. (Or at least they will be, when I pen my best-selling teenclops novel Iris: "A shy girl moves to Moscow, Idaho only to discover the hamlet is full of eyepatch-wearing boys-next-door.")
But I digress. Anyway, all of this internet posturing misses sight of the true battle lines. Trek versus War, Trek and War versus Twilight, and even the odd partisan of Tek War versus Twilight are but drops in the bucket compared to the unsung feud between Star Trek, Star Wars, and — the best film ever to bear the prefix Star — Lance Lindsay's 1986's extraterrestrial tour de force Star Crystal.
Now, I'm not expecting any of you to remember Star Crystal nor will I make the audacious claim that Star Crystal is a good film. Those of you who argue otherwise are likely familiar with entire corpus of Lance Lindsay's IMDB biography, which seemingly begins and ends with an episode of McCloud. No, what I will argue is that — unlike the pie-in-the-sky koans of Wars or the gooey communitarianism of Trek — Star Crystal gets to the pith of the human condition. It is a science fiction movie that squelches the imagination and makes the viewer grateful he or she does not live in Star Crystal one whit. The original trilogy and an episode of The Next Generation will make you wish you had Force powers and mad brass skills, respectively. Star Crystal inculcates no such yearning. It is the cod liver oil of movies that begin with the word Star — here's why.
1.) Star Crystal teaches you to never believe the hype
Above is the fucking rad poster for Star Crystal. At left, the trailer. Know that the above monster never appears in the film, nor does the film ever achieve the "new form of life...and death!" as promised in the preview.
2.) Similarly, Star Crystal teaches you Occam's Razor
Did you see that burbling pile of tapioca in the trailer? That is the juvenile form of "the Gar," or the space slug that appears in Star Crystal. But unlike, say, the facehugger from Alien, the young Gar looks exactly like the fully grown Gar who later terrorizes our protagonists. So yes, those poor souls who rented Star Crystal in hopes of seeing that tiny lump of smegma evolve into a saber-toothed killing machine must have been pretty chagrined to find that it becomes just a bigger lump of smegma.
3.) Star Crystal teaches you patience
For a ~90-minute film, Star Crystal is inordinately slow. Many facets of life, such as watching glaciers carve out mountain ranges, also require a certain cerebral steel. Think of Star Crystal as mental conditioning for waiting for 2020. Begin your training by witnessing the most demure space station explosion ever recorded.
4.) Star Crystal teaches you to appreciate the finer things in life
Some of you may have noticed that I've said nearly bupkis about Star Crystal's plot. Canny observer! In the 2030s, a group of astronauts discover a mysterious crystal/brag about playing football on Mars. They're immediately killed by the Gar, who farts out of the crystal. Fast forward two months, and the protagonists have discovered the dead astronauts' space station (see above). The Gar blows that up and begins hunting these new spacefarers in their escape vessel.
After most of that crew dies offscreen, the two remaining new astronauts investigate where the Gar came from. More importantly, they finally watch the foreshadowed football footage. Mind you, this scene occurs slightly after most of their friends have been strangled with tentacles.
5.) The Gar decides not to kill the heroes after reading the Bible
This isn't a life lesson. I just wanted to pay credence to one of the most left-field plot twists in the history of killer alien fiction.
6.) Nobody is evil, everyone is just misunderstood
After one of our stare-happy heroes is about to torch the Gar with a flamethrower, they realize that he's just an extremely confused cosmic blob. Then commences perhaps the greatest volte-face ever committed to celluloid, as the heroes befriend the Gar in the film's final five minutes. There's even a "friends doing stuff" montage!
This is the kind of spirit of togetherness firebrands embroiled in the current Trek-Wars feud need to embrace. Star Crystal even plays out the Gar with...
7.) Everything goes better with Daphne from Scooby-Doo
...a pop jam by Indira Stefanianna Christopherson, better known as the voice of scarf aficionado Daphne Anne Blake. Did Star Trek or Star Wars ever have a song by Daphne? Only in our wildest dreams.
Star Crystal poster via Wrong Side of the Art.