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Awesome: 17.65%
Worth A Look: 17.65%
Just Average52.94%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 11.76%

1 review, 11 user ratings

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Dark Star
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by Dr. Isaksson

"The Original Truckers in Space"
3 stars

John Carpenter's first feature film Dark Star, a production created during his time in film school, is definitely a small taste of what this amazing director had in store. Years before 'The Great Horror Director' gave us "Assault on Precinct 13" "Halloween," "The Fog," "Christine" etc. Carpenter and his fellow film student and pal Dan O' Bannon wrote, produced and starred in this very very low budget sci fi film which took years to complete and actually saw a theatrical release.

Filmed from 1970 to 1973 and then released in 1974, Dark Star, written by Dan O' Bannon and John Carpenter and directed by John, follows a small group of space travelers who wander throughout the infinant universe blowing up what they consider 'unstable planets'. Their mission being to make space more stable for habitation. At least I THINK that's what the plot was aiming for, (I could be wrong.) The crew on board the ship aptly named the Dark Star consist of four astronauts who are known as the 'space truckers'. There is the thoughtful man in charge Lt.Doolittle (Brian Narelle), the incredibly bored and weary Boiler, (Cal Kuniholm), the thoughtful and still a bit willing Kalby (Andrew Dre Pahich) and of course the goofy scene stealer of the film, Sgt.Pinback (played by writer Dan O'Bannon). The overall focus of the film basically just centers around these four guys who have been floating around for what seems like years. None are all that interested in the mission they have set out to do and they certainly are no longer bothering to interact with one another anymore. The attempts at humor with this kind of bored comedic tone is weaker than it thinks it is but at least the effort is there. This lazy concept can only leave the viewer wondering how does the film expect to be humorous if no one gives a shit about anything? So what would be the logical step? To bring in another character or creature to stir up the bland atmosphere. That they do and that character turns out to be an Alien. A PET Alien that is. Seems that this non hostile creature was a discovery of Pinback who found it during one of the many missions out in space and he decided to bring the little thing on board for a pet. I won't give away what this Alien looks like but it has to be seen to be believed. Trust me it isn't a Giger-esque creation by any means.

The rest of the production on the film is actually quite good and the attempt of trying to tackle the tricky art of a science fiction film way back in the infancy of space travel was really a risky endeavor but Dark Star glows with an amateurish glee that actually enhances it's charm and makes it easier to sit through. It's understandable to wince at the weak acting and crappy sets but take into account that this was made by very young guys who had aspirations to become film directors. The work here by Carpenter and O'Bannon is admirable but when you get down to the actual story, it's quite interesting and well conceived. It all makes sense that these astronauts would be sick of each other and basically have nothing important to say. But this set up isn't going to have the theaters packed with loving audiences. It's just too slow and this problem of long, drawn out scenes was party due to the fact that a film distributor was willing to release the film only if the film was lengthened for theatrical release. So what would probably make a much more fun and easy to watch shorter film ended up becoming an overly long feature film considering the storyline. This being noted, the lack of money and talent doesn't diminish the impact of Dark Star because much of what John Carpenter has become famous for shows up in this film. As always he is in great control of the camera and knows exactly what he wants from his shots. His ability to catch the intriguing but subtle moments of interaction between characters is evident. The terrific mood lighting and gloomy synth music which was always created and performed by Carpenter in all of his films is here in all it's cheesy brilliance.

And it is easy to gather that this film was clearly a prelude to what was to become the best SCI FI horror film of all time, 1979's Alien which was written by Dan O'Bannon. All of the elements that made Alien so wonderful are here in Dark Star.The cold and grimy spaceship, the talking mother computer, the cryogenic sleep, hell, even travelling through the air ducts is part of the plot here. As far as my overall impression of the cast, well it's all you can expect from film school students and O'Bannon's performance sways from horrifically amateurish to slightly endearing. The rest do pretty good work as well considering their lack of expirence and the film really does manage to go along without getting completely flat out dull. But the slow pacing can be death to some viewers and this slow pace probably lead to the film's downfall at the theaters. However, since it's initial release it has become a small cult classic and of course it cannot go without saying that Dark Star, without question, set the stage for what was to become Dan O'Bannon's masterpiece Alien. So how could I diss on this film without a little love because of what came next?

Dark Star is actually a lot like an earlier version of ALIEN, minus the scares, the talent and the budget *** Stars

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=2999&reviewer=296
originally posted: 09/07/04 15:33:13
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User Comments

12/26/16 Bents Had some fun with this as a sci fi fan 3 stars
3/10/11 bored mom Slow, depressing satire, but the evil beach ball alien and the death shaft scene kick ass. 3 stars
1/05/10 art they should call it,falling star INSTEAD JOHN CARPENTER IS overrated! 1 stars
10/31/09 art IT STINK"S! 1 stars
8/10/05 Dave W. Better than it's given credit for. 4 stars
12/07/03 Mike John Carpenter's $16,000 masterpiece. 5 stars
12/04/03 john brilliant - one of the best sci fi movies ever made - 5 stars
9/01/02 y2mckay Definitely in "Cult Classic" territory. Best watched while high. 3 stars
11/18/01 Andrew Robinson Great ending. Great movie (for its time) 4 stars
1/23/01 dave Underhill youll love or hate this one.......... I love it!!! 5 stars
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  DVD: 26-Oct-2010



Directed by
  John Carpenter

Written by
  John Carpenter
  Dan O'Bannon

  Brian Narelle
  Cal Kuniholm
  Dre Pahich
  Dan O'Bannon

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