The Dark Crystal (1982)

Posted by on Dec 16, 2011 in Scary | 0 comments

Disclaimer: Some Power Rangers-type violence and overwhelming creepiness.

If I had to describe The Dark Crystal in one word, it wouldn’t be a difficult choice: creepy. Directors Jim Henson and Frank Oz, with conceptual artist Brian Froud, don’t so much make a film as create a dark land in an age overcome by evil. Oh yeah, and lots of weird puppets.

One-thousand years ago, the Crystal2fictional land was lush and good until The Dark Crystal cracked and lost a shard. The missing piece created a racial dichotomy between the evil Skeksis (dragon birds based on the deadly sins) and Mystics (an animal version of your grandparents). Apparently it’s so powerful it doesn’t necessitate plot details to describe its purpose (it basically gives or takes power). In my mind, it’s basically a purple version of a monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

With the evil Skeksis in power, the only thing that can stop their tyranny is a prophecy that says a Gelfling (basically an alien-faced animal) will retrieve the shard and bring it back to heal the crystal and, in turn, end the rule of evil. After the Skeksis attempted to kill all of the Gelflings, the chosen one, Jen, remained in the care of the Mystics and must now go on a journey to save the world. We learn this Lord of the Rings-esque plot within the first five minutes of the movie and the rest is a series of wondrous adventures intertwined with unsettling characters.

Henson got the idea for the film, which took about five years to make, from Froud’s creepy drawings of these magnificent creatures. This is why the story leaves a lot to be desired, while the images leave a lot of nightmares. On top of the aforementioned races, there are also Podlings (living potatoes), Garthims (giant crustacean soldiers), Landstriders (giant hairy land bats), and animal-like plants. Overall, this creates a very strange and scary place to live, even if it is only for an hour and a half.

I first saw this movie when I was young,  I can’t say how old, and it had a profound effect on me. Let’s just say I didn’t watch it again until I was 20 (and that was an equally creepy experience). If you watch the film as the creators intend you to, by allowing yourself to be a key part of the story, its characters, and the landscape, you’ll likely feel the same way – freaked out, confused, and violated. But, you know, in a good way.

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