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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 (51 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 55.33
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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
As every film buff knows, Dark Star started off as a student film. The work so impressed producer Jack H. Harris (The Blob) that he gave the 'kids' some extra money to pad it to feature length. The rest is history, sort of. Dark Star is a deserved cult classic. For one, while it is bargain basement filmmaking, nonetheless the movie manages to look fairly good and does not bog down with filler (each scene is fresh and entertaining and adds something to the overall feel). The alien escaping into the ship and Pinback's giving chase (which alternates easily between hilarious and harrowing) is undoubtedly a highlight (both for being so entertaining and for forshadowing O'Bannon's script/story for Alien). As is Bomb #20. The second reason is that many of the crew (Carpenter, O'Bannon, and the effects creators) all went on to successful careers in the film making industry. If you can get past the tape and cardboard look (and the movie is so inventive and funny that it is easy to do) then Dark Star is a fun ride and an essential addition to any sci-fi film buffs library. Highly recommended.
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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 Early Brilliance June 30 2002
Much like George Lucas' THX-1138, Dark Star had its beginnings as a film school project which was later expanded into a full-length movie with the help of later investors. However, while Lucas became far less serious when he started working with big budgets, the opposite phenonmenon occured with Dark Star's creators Dan O'Bannon (later scripter of such hits as Alien and The Abyss) and John Carpenter (later director of such hits as The Thing and Halloween). In fact, Dark Star often seems to make fun of elements found in Carpenter and O'Bannon's later works, as if they knew what directions they would later be taking and decided to parody themselves before anyone else got the chance. For example, there's an alien that looks like a blown-up beachball bouncing around the ship and causing trouble, providing a very silly alternative to the insect in Alien. Of course, other classics are billiantly parodied in this movie as well, especially 2001 with its out of control, intelligent computer and in the scene of astronauts floating off into space.
Much like Monty Python, the humour works on many levels. In addition to slapstick, you get rather intelligent and philosophical humour. Not all of it works, but there are enough hits to make up for all the misses.
Given the original budget of the film, don't expect a visual spectacular. Comparing Dark Star to the creators' later works is like comparing Lord of the Rings to Peter Jackson's first film, Bad Taste. This first film has a sort of roughness and lack of polish to it which really emphasizes its moments of brilliance. Too bad the film isn't longer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious sci-fi April 13 2002
This is one of my favorite sci-fi movies, a hilarious send-up of space epics. Director John Carpenter and co-writer Dan O'Bannon steer away from traditional sci-fi action to focus on the tedium and isolation of deep-space travel. It's a risky concept, but it works. Bleak comedy abounds as the crew of the ship _Dark Star_ slowly lose their grip on reality (although it's clear that some of them lost their grip a long time ago).
Of the two versions of _Dark Star_ included here, the sixty-eight minute "director's cut" is far superior. The eighty-three minute "theatrical release" feels padded, though most of that extra time involves an extended sequence in an asteroid field. This scene, added at the request (or demand, if you prefer) of shocksploitation producer Jack Harris, radically changes the plot, and blunts the film's satirical edge.
The DVD package is unimpressive; video and audio are uniformly bad, and extras are minimal. Considering the film's production history and tiny budget, it's safe to say that _Dark Star_ looks and sounds as good now as it ever will.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, funny..... funny again.. Sept. 25 2001
This film, which is a debut film of John Carpenter, is quite preposterous. First, before this film, there is a masterpiece of SF film which is a Stanley Kubrick¡»s work ¡░2001: A Space Odyssey¡▒. Compared with Kubrick¡»s, it is a directly opposite style. Contrast to Kubrick¡»s carried weight and is very difficult, this film is funny and absurd. It is a feature of Carpenter¡»s films; there are many funny scenes, which transcend an imagination. The plot of this film is nothing special. The spaceship crew who have a mission, but their life is a continuity of boredom, so as to their acting is very funny. Childish pranks of the crew and a pet alien which looks like a beach ball with claws, Ii makes people cannot help laughing. In addition, this film was made when Carpenter was a student of university. It was a low-budget film, so some special effects were little bit clumsy. Nevertheless, it deserves to watch because it is a comedy film, so it makes people feel funnier. As watching these scenes, I cannot help recognizing Carpenter¡»s imagination is great. Dan O¡»Bannon who co writes screenplay with Carpenter and played one of the crew, after that he created ¡░Alien¡▒. This is also interesting thing. Anyway, this film is quite funny, and more, soundtrack that also matched with film, made well. John Carpenter usually took charge of music in own films as well as this film; he used amusing music for the soundtrack to make a funny scene.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
a classic
Published 1 month ago by herick69
5.0 out of 5 stars The future is absurd
Dark Star doesn't forget to include liberal doses of the Human Condition in its depiction of The Future (tm). Read more
Published 9 months ago by Ross
5.0 out of 5 stars An old time classic!
One of my old time favourite science fiction movies. Early classic from John Carpenter.
Good effects, story everything a movie must have. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Bernhard Ruis
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it. Great Documentary extras.
Very good extras including the true story behind the cult classic Dark star. I'd say a must have for every fan.
Published 14 months ago by Wes Sargent
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 21 months ago by Joanne
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't give me any of that intelligent life crap, just give me...
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. Read more
Published on Dec 8 2007 by Daniel Jolley
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
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
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