Brian Narelle, Andreijah Pahich, Carl Duniholm, Dan O'Bannon
1974, 83 Minutes, Directed by: John Carpenter
Description:The Dark Star's crew is on a 20-year mission to destroy unstable planets and
make way for future colonization. The smart bombs they use to effect this zoom
off cheerfully to do their duty. But unlike Star Trek, in which order prevails,
the nerves of this crew are becoming increasingly frayed to the point of
of Dark Star is pure movie legend by now: how it was made
by the young John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon while still film
school students at USC Film School for a mere $60 000 in the
early-1970s. In case you were wondering: even back then it was
next to nothing. How they wangled financing and used everyday
household objects (such as tin containers) in their costumes,
Both Carpenter and O'Bannon went on to bigger things and
mainstream Hollywood: later Carpenter would make the unexpected Halloween
hit and didn't have to beg for money to make his movies anymore
and O'Bannon went on to write the script for Alien.
plot is something only film school students making an independent
film could get away with: the Dark Star in question is a star
ship that floats around endlessly in space looking for unstable
planets to demolish. If they find one, they hover over it and
drop a bomb on it, blowing the planet to smithereens. But mostly
they float around aimlessly. The captain is dead and kept in
cryogenic suspension, while the acting commander does nothing
else than stare at the stars all day long. Lots of jokes about
existentialism, Albert Camus and surfing.
come to a head when a bomb is activated while still in the
bombing bay, threatening to explode, taking the ship and its crew
with it. ("I think I'm going to explode," it says at
one stage.) It's up to a hapless crew member to convince it not
to and they engage in a conversation al á Descartes on whether the bomb actually
exists and its instructions to explode are actually valid. It is a sharply written scene
worthy of any piece of absurdist theatre.
being after all its reason d'etre, the bomb does go off, and the
two crew members are sent scattering through space - one of which
takes the opportunity before they die to think of it as an
opportunity to surf - a scene reminiscent of Ray Bradbury's sci-fi short story "Kaleidoscope" about a group of astronauts floating away from each other in space after their ship has exploded.
later employ elements from this early movie in his Alien
script - the Nostromo acting as a double for the Dark Star.
Sci-Fi Movie Page Pick:Made by cult director
John (Escape from New York, The Thing)
Carpenter while still a film school student, Dark Star runs like a mixture
between French absurdist theatre and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The effects are surprisingly good for such a cheaply made movie.