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Canuxploitation!

Starlight

1996, Starring Rae Dawn Chong, Billy Wirth, Willie Nelson, Jim Byrnes, Alex Diakun, Deborah Wakeham. Directed by Jonathon Kay.





Bust out the crystals and the dream catchers Starlight is a hilarious new age science fiction tale of about aliens, alternate worlds, environmentalism, and the secret powers of Willie Nelson. It stars Billy Firth as our hero Kieran, Willie Nelson as Grampa Lium, Rae Dawn Chong as Arianna, the good alien, and Alex Daikun, (who played the villainous Dolan in Firebird 2015 AD) as Pallas, the bad alien.

Starlight has some unintentional similarities to another Canuxploitation film, Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe. In Abraxas, a bad alien returns to earth to harness a secret power in his son, born to a human mother, while space cop Abraxas (Jesse Ventura) tries to stop him. In Starlight, Arianna comes to earth to find the offspring of the evil alien Pallas and his human mother, while Pallas tries to harness a secret power in his son. The aliens in each movie even fight in the same way, shooting blue lightning bolts out their hands.

This movie begins with Arianna in her spaceship kneeling before a glowing rock, on an altar of what appears to be tires. She communicates with the space rock not with words, but with thoughts, which are subtitled for our benefit in a "futuristic" font. We learn that Arianna has three days to find Earth's saviour, after which she will suffocate in Earth's atmosphere.

Back on Earth, possible saviour and full-time Native Canadian Kieran is busy getting dumped by his girlfriend who just doesn't understand his tortured new age soul. Let's just say words like "cosmic" and "harmony" are not sparingly used in their conversation. Realizing she will never agree with his staunch environmentalism, Kieran takes off on his motorcycle(!). Then, he promptly runs the bike off a cliff to avoid hitting a bunny rabbit(!!). As Kieran plunges into the river, he begins having visions of kaleidoscope lights, soaring eagles and stars(!!!). In an obviously animated sequence meant to look real, Arianna's spaceship hovers over the river and sucks Kieran out of the water. When he awakes, Arianna is healing his wounds with her magic E.T.-like powers. There may not be any glowing fingers in Starlight, but we do get a generous sprinkling of new age chimes every time the healing power is used. Kieran takes her back to meet his parents, and Grampa Lium. Arianna is particularly struck by Kieran's catatonic mom, who keeps having flashbacks of "The Zone," where everything is shot through a yellow filter and she keeps having memories of sex with a strange person in a silver outfit.

This strange person is the evil Pallas, having just arrived on earth himself. We know he is evil when he steals clothes from a biker simply by pointing at him, and then kills some innocent people in his way. Arianna is on Earth to stop Pallas from extracting some gene from Kieran to use in his quest to enslave the Earth. She tells Kieran that only he has the power to "restore the balance" and shows him a laughable "vision of the future," apparently shot in a sandbox full of discarded Hot Wheels.

Meanwhile, Pallas kidnaps Kieran's dad, and takes him back to their farmhouse where he breaks his arm... with his mind! When Kieran and Arianna arrive, Pallas tries to ambush them, but fails as they race off to get help for his dad. Let me repeat that: an alien with healing powers races off to get help for a man with a broken arm. Then, he is actually taken to the hospital (broken arm ward?) where he spends the night. He isn't safe though, because Pallas is still tracking him down. How does Pallas slip past the hospital guards and the nurses? He doesn't there is no one working at the stations!! I knew health care cuts were bad, but what kind of hospital closes for the night? Pallas still goes to the trouble of disguising himself as a doctor, and kills Kieran's dad. Well, no, actually he just hurts him a little more and leaves.

Where's Willie Neslon in all of this? He's busy hanging out in his room filled with crystals, mystical wall hangings and scented candles, explaining to Kieran and Arianna how we are all descended from aliens. Full of wisdom, those crazy kids leave to create some interplanetary descendants of their own. In perhaps the most ridiculous scene in the film, two balls of pure light rise from their intertwined bodies and fly around the universe, all to new age flute music. They cruise around the planets, visit the rings of Saturn, and finally, merge into one!

The next day, Pallas finally finds our young lovers and traps them in a cave. Kieran and Ariana make the best out of the situation by discovering a secret room full of artifacts that supposedly proves aliens were friends with all First Nations people! They break out, and with the help of Willie Nelson, who actually shoots lasers out of his eyes, they visit the The Zone (remember that plot line?) to rescue Kieran's mom's soul(?!). At this point the plot became too confusing to follow, and worse, it wasn't even over. Pallas was still running around, Willie was still transfixed with his laser vision, and now Kieran was at some kind of First Nations rave! Help!

Starlight takes full advantage of the Nelson, BC landscape. Almost every shot is full of mountains, huge pines, rivers, and starry skies. Like Paul Lynch's film Bullies, Starlight also features a scene at The Starlight Drive-In in Enderby, BC. How could they resist their namesake? The best part about this sequence is that they are actually showing something on the huge drive-in screen: new age stock footage of sunsets and stars, which turns into a close-up of Pallas' eyes! Agghh!

Like Abraxas, Starlight is an unintentionally humourous Canadian science fiction film. Abraxas gets it's laughs from the dubious heroism of Jesse Ventura, but Starlight's new age pretensions are just as comical. Obviously the director must believe in this new age vision for the crestfallen rich, but it also makes you wonder about Willie Nelson's possible scientologist leanings.


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