Couple of SF Movie ID Puzzlers

by Jonathan


I'm trying to identify a couple of movies.

The first was one I saw as a young child. The local university has a "mini-university" programme for children in the summer, and I was enrolled in it as a kid -- late '80s this would have been, or very early '90s. The university students in charge of the program didn't know what to do with a block of unscheduled time prior to parent pick-up, so they plonked us in front of a TV.

I remember people shooting beams from small crystals, about the size of a hand, that they'd hold in their palm. They were being chased, perhaps persecuted, or something -- my memory is kind of fuzzy on this point -- and were trying to hide, I think. That's as much as I can remember.

The second is a movie or show or maybe even radio programme from which a sound clip was taken by Verbrilli Sound in their song Descender. I've tried various Google searches in vain. Here's a transcription of the text from the song:

    "Looks awfully red down there sir. Is Mars completely a desert in this sector?"

    "No! You'll see the first signs of vegetation in a few moments. We're heading toward the equator, so... There! To the west. See those patches of green? You know, I'm curious to know, Commander Clifford, is any of that stuff edible?"

    "No, Colonel -- at least not in its raw state. With the arrival of the equipment you've brought, we'll begin testing various preparations of plant life. I do hope we succeed in making it edible and soon -- the rations up here are getting pretty monotonous!"

    "What about animal life, sir? I mean, is there really such a thing as a.. a martian?"

    "Yeah, well, we don't actually know, lieutenant. The base has been operated for only a short time and to date no animal form has been observed. Once the excavation work is finished, the men can return to being scientists, (can't make out some words here), systematic exploration."

    "How great do you think are the chances of discovering an intelligent life?"

    "Life in general is quite possible to be intelligent (?), but I can't really say."

Any answers or hints greatly appreciated. :-)

From SF Movie Explorers:

Interesting science fiction movie puzzlers, indeed! :)

The weapon you described in the first part of your message bears some similarities to the Minbari weapon in the Babylon 5 series, first season episode 17 titled Legacies. It was released in 1994. If it's not a match, we'll search some more. :)

Sorry to say, but the dialog you sent us did not ring any bells. So, after some research we figured we'd best ask the author himself. Unfortunately, Mr. Verbrilli's response hasn't come in yet.

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Not a match, but very grateful for the effort!
by: Jonathan

Hmm, no, I don't think it was Babylon 5. I'm pretty sure the show I'm thinking of took place on Earth -- one scene was in a parking lot, for instance. Also, I just scanned over that episode of Babylon 5 (though, admittedly, I didn't watch every second, due to time constraints), and I didn't spot any energy weapon being used by the Minbari -- Delenn was building a structure out of crystals, but if my memory serves, that was (spoiler alert) the start of the mysterious structure that eventually ends up turning her half human. So I guess the search is still on for beams shooting out of crystals in the palm of people's hands!

Thank you very much for reaching out to Mr. Verbrilli. It hadn't occurred to me that that might even be possible. I look forward to his reply. :-)

The search is on indeed!
by: ESFM

We'll continue looking and keep you posted. In the meantime, I'll put this post on our "Wanted" list and invite SF movie explorers all over cyberspace to join the search! :)

(By the way, the scene in which Minbari use that particular weapon in the episode of Babylon 5 starts at 28:33 minute, and it is a brief one - sorry I did not mentioned that earlier).

Best regards,

Unfortunately, Mr. Verbrilli has not answered yet.

Found the Minbari weapon, and it's not the one
by: Jonathan

Ah, thank you for that time cue. I have found the scene you mentioned, and, alas, it isn't the one from my childhood memory. One loose end tied off, though. :-)

This is what you're looking for!!!!
by: Don Verbrilli

The comments from Descender came from this album, unearthed thanks to my good friend Paul McNeill of New Channel:

Hope that works for ya!


Don Verbrilli

Thanks for the interesting record
by: Jonathan

Many thanks for that identification. It looks like an engaging record. I've listened to one of the tracks on it, and it's quite interesting what cultural changes have taken place since it was made in the 1950s. From today's point of view, "The Colonel" comes across as a very overbearing, superior paternal figure, and "the crew" seem to know nothing of the mission they're going on. It's hard to imagine, nowadays, a space mission on which the crew were not all, in terms of intellect and knowledge at least, equals; indeed, if "The Colonel" were to be incapacitated, how would "the crew" be able to survive? Allowances must be made, of course, on account of the target audience. :-)

That leaves only the question of the energy beams fired from crystals. :-)

Similarities and differences?
by: ESFM

Hi, Jonathan!

In 7th episode of Crusade (1999) series, called The Rules of the Game, aliens use energy weapons which are red crystals attached to their palms. They chase down two humans and try to kill them. The shooting scene starts at 26:15 minutes.

I know, the series is a Babylon 5 spin-off and I can assure you I DO watch SF series and movies which have nothing to do with Babylon 5 universe. :) :) :)

But when I came across that scene I wanted to ask you...

Does this weapon have any similarities and differences (in color, shape..) with what you are looking for?



Babylon 5 is a great franchise, but no match here I'm afraid
by: Jonathan

The memory I have most certainly predates Babylon 5 and its spinoffs, so of course it wouldn't be the actual weapons in question. As for a comparison -- I can't remember what the actual beam/zap/pulse/whatever it was the weapon did looked like, but as best I can remember, the crystals in the show I saw were perhaps the size of small pear, and they were not embedded into the skin. They could be put down or handed to another person. I can't recall for certain if people needed a special ability in order to use it or whether any person could have fired it, but I have a vague notion that it may have been the former.

I quite enjoyed Babylon 5 myself and occasionally rewatch it. Each time I get to the end, I am filled with a profound wish to see how things continue and to where they evolve. I found the Crusade series that followed it (of which I got through only 3 or 4 episodes) to be not quite as high-quality, with many more fight scenes and a more episodic layout -- perhaps like the distinction between Deep Space 9 and the original Star Trek? Nevertheless, it is a great universe and so well thought-out. :-) It's just a pity it didn't all happen 10 years later with the advances in CGI effects that continued in leaps and bounds after B5 was produced.

The search continues...
by: ESFM

I totally agree with your comment about Babylon 5. The show has great characters and storyline, which I too love to revisit from time to time. The Crusade, as you say, is just not on par with the original. All the time I watched it I had a feeling that the story wasn't thought-through and that the episodes should be in a different order. Shame, as there are quite a few interesting characters in it!

By the way, thank you for the pointers, I'll keep looking and post when I find another candidate. :-)

Meantime, if you happen to remember any further details (costume design, scenery, ...) about the movie, please, let me know.



Logan's Run?
by: Seaturtle

Logan's Run had people being chased and persecuted; the people had crystals ON the palm of their hand. The crystals glowed, but didn't shoot rays. There were ray guns that shot rays. Close?

Not Logan's Run
by: Jonathan

Thanks for the suggestion, but nope, it's not that one. The crystals were larger, and I'm pretty sure they weren't attached to the hand. They'd sort of cradle them, and they'd glow white with perhaps a hint of colour (or perhaps not) and a white beam would shoot out. At least, that's the way the memory looks now. :-)

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