Film Review: Dark Star (1974)
Sci-fi stoner-surf comedy adventure Dark Star takes place on the ship of the same name, that four bored and bearded crew members call home. Gone a bit loopy from the tedium of 20 years of space travel, they perform mundane and repetitive tasks in cramped conditions, frequently reacting to comical systems malfunctions, dealing with a naughty alien, seeking advice from the ship’s dead commander, and trying to reason with philosophical Thermostellar Bomb 20.
Director Carpenter and writer/actor O’Bannon met at film school and evidence of unrestrained student imagination permeates the movie from start to finish. They produced it on a measly budget of US $60,000 and as a result the sets, props and effects are incredibly clever (George Lucas later hired O’Bannon to work on special effects for Star Wars).
This is one of those “good-bad” films, a movie which every sci-fi fan or aspiring film maker should see. Dark Star has become the cultural corner stone of the science fiction genre ever since. It is weird, trying, eccentric, profound – and above all, hilarious.
Directed by John Carpenter
Starring Dan O’Bannon, Brian Narelle, Carl Kuniholm and Dre Pahich
Written by Dan O’Bannon, who said in response to the poor initial reaction to the film, “If I can’t make them laugh, I can try and make them scream” and then wrote the screenplay for Alien (1979).