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Dark Star

Dan O'Bannon , Dre Pahich , John Carpenter    G (General Audience)   DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
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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 psychosis. Their captain has been killed by a radiation leak that also destroyed their toilet paper. "Don't give me any of that 'Intelligent Life' stuff," says Commander Doolittle when presented with the possibility of alien life. "Find me something I can blow up." When an asteroid storm causes a malfunction, Bomb Number 20 (the most cheerful character in the film) has to be repeatedly talked out of exploding prematurely, each time becoming more and more peevish, until they have to teach him phenomenology to make him doubt his existence. And the film's apocalyptic ending, lifted almost wholly from Ray Bradbury's story "Kaleidoscope," has the remaining crew drifting away from each other in space, each to a suitably absurd end. Absurd, surreal, and very funny. John Carpenter once described Dark Star as "Waiting for Godot in space." Made at a cost of practically nothing, the film's effects are nevertheless impressive and, along with the number of ideas crammed into its 83 minutes, ought to shame makers of science fiction films costing hundreds of times more. The DVD contains both the original 68-minute release and the director's full version. --Jim Gay

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Daniel Jolley TOP 50 REVIEWER
For the first 20-25 minutes of Dark Star, I sat here thinking this could well be one of the most awful science fiction movies of all time. By the end, though, my tune had changed rather drastically. I would say the film is brilliantly funny despite its treasure trove of bad movie qualities. It is definitely uniquely absurd, the rare science fiction black comedy that actually manages to deliver. Undoubtedly, some viewers will label Dark Star a disaster and wonder how anyone could like a single thing about it. If you appreciate droll humor and are willing to conform your own thinking to that of the film (rather than waiting for it to conform to your expectations), you're liable to be in for a most unusual treat here. In case you haven't noticed, this is indeed a John Carpenter film. Carpenter co-wrote (along with Dan O'Bannon), directed, and produced it. Don't be expecting a Hollywood theatrical production, though. Dark Star is by and large a student film brought to life by Carpenter and O'Bannon. It was later picked up for a theatrical release (for which an additional 15 minutes or so of action was filmed and added), but the whole movie was made on the smallest of budgets. Some of the special effects aren't bad at all, surprisingly enough, but there's no mistaking the fact that Carpenter and company had to make due as best they could in scene after scene.

Here's the premise. It's the future, and the crew members of the Dark Star have been sent out on an extraordinarily long mission to blow an array of unstable planets throughout the galaxy to smithereens. I'm not sure these guys were perfectly sane to begin with, but twenty years in space, trapped inside a cramped spaceship, have definitely taken a toll on each of them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The future is absurd Dec 20 2013
By Ross
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Dark Star doesn't forget to include liberal doses of the Human Condition in its depiction of The Future (tm). The crew of the Dark Star are no longer the super rational Golden Boys that they must have been at the time of their mission launch : they're tired, lonely, more than a little loopy, and more than ready to head home. There's just one little problem : they can't go home until they've successfully deployed all of their bombs. yes, I said bombs. The ship carries a load of actually smart smart-bombs that are used to fulfill the primary mission agenda of destroying unstable planets in star systems that may be, or may not be, colonized by humanity. Needless to say, after twenty years the ship, the crew & the bombs are becoming more than a little...quirky.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An old time classic! Nov. 10 2013
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
One of my old time favourite science fiction movies. Early classic from John Carpenter.
Good effects, story everything a movie must have.
When you watch that movie, think like John Carpenter and you understand the movie.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love it. Great Documentary extras. July 7 2013
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Very good extras including the true story behind the cult classic Dark star. I'd say a must have for every fan.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Good movie, miserable DVD quality Oct. 28 2003
Much has been written about this movie, so I will spare you any repetitions. Anyway, chances are you will be interested in Dark Star" only if you already know it...
What I must mention is the DVD quality: On a scale from zero to ten it would rank minus 25! It is letterbox format and so poor that no amount of fiddling with my projector settings could make a difference. Grainy picture, lots of artifacts, washed out colours.. you name it, this edition has it. What a pitty.
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2.0 out of 5 stars "John Carpenter's Dark Star" July 11 2002
Dark Star (G) **/5
Brian Narelle, Dre Pahich, Ycal Kuniholme, Dan O'Bannon, Joe Saunders.
Directed by: John Carpenter.
Synopsis: A group of astronauts who destroy unstable planets must try to survive when a bomb gets lodged in the launch bay.
Special Features: Contains Extended and Theatrical Cut of the Film, Trailer, Biographies.
Review: A loopy cult sci-fi comedy. This was made as a student film, but somebody decided to release it. It has a lot going for it, but you know it just didn't have the budget. Several great scenes are in there though like attack of the killer beach ball, and philosophy discussions with a bomb. So the plot is what you ask? Several astronauts are on a ship that destroys unstable planets, but a bomb gets lodged in the bomb bay, and they must scramble to save their lives. The actors all do a respectable job with what they have to work with. Carpenter comes through in directing, and he gives us a hint of the greatness to come. As for the DVD? While the special features and two versions of the film are fascinating this is really only a pick up for Carpenter fans, or perhaps fans of cult sci-fi films.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Some folks should do some homework Nov. 16 2001
I've noticed many of the reviews for this little gem have been positive. However, to the folks who bagged on it, perhaps they should do a little reading about the history of the film and then look at it from that perspective.
The movie was the final USC film project of John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon and has excellent production design by Ron Cobb (who went on to other classics like Blade Runner). It was originally about 45 minutes long, but Jack Harris provided funds to add footage so that it could make the rounds at drive-ins. So, yes the film is low budget. But, the work and effort that went into shows through every frame.
Yes, it was a beach ball. Its a joke. Get it.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Garbage
I Thought it would be good with some of the people that were in it but it was terrible. Not funny, not well written and after watching it, I through it in the garbage.
Published 19 months ago by Joanne
5.0 out of 5 stars Boredom Has never been so funny!!!
Made with their own money! John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon made this quite bizarre tale of boredom in space. Read more
Published on July 7 2004 by Andrew
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem in the rough is still a gem
What's also amazing is the sensitivity to characters and personalities in this movie. Each crew member is different, and has his own unique coping mechanisms (or none at all) for... Read more
Published on March 16 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Only for John Carpenter fans
If you're a John Carpenter fan (Starman, Alien, etc.), you might be interested in seeing his early work, but if not, skip this DOG of a film. Read more
Published on Feb. 27 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Carpenter and O'Bannon show their impressive chops.
As every film buff knows, Dark Star started off as a student film. The work so impressed producer Jack H. Read more
Published on Nov. 29 2003 by Chadwick H. Saxelid
5.0 out of 5 stars In Space, No One Can Hear You Yawn...
DARK STAR is the most un-romantic, stark, hysterical vision of space exploration ever filmed. Carpenter and O'bannon capture the suffocating boredom perfectly! Read more
Published on Nov. 17 2003 by Bindy Sue Fr°nkŘnschtein
4.0 out of 5 stars Hippies in Space
I originally had this film on a Beta cassette, so
I can say it found me early. My first thoughts
were "Hippies in Space". Read more
Published on July 15 2003 by Mark E. Warner
1.0 out of 5 stars Dark Star
I have seen this movie in the theaters and I thought this movie was bad-bad-bad. It does not belong on a dvd. Putting it on a dvd is a waste. Read more
Published on May 28 2003
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