Dark Star is absurd, surreal and very funny. John Carpenter once described it as "Waiting for Godot in space." (It's also, surely, one of the primary inspirations for Red Dwarf.) 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 story concerns the Dark Star's crew who are on a 20-year mission to destroy unstable planets and make way for future colonisation. 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. --Jim Gay [show more]
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John Carpenter's parody of Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey' follows four space-weary astronauts (and their alien mascot) on an extended mission to blow up unstable planets. Meanwhile, an electronic forcefield has altered the programming of their bomb.
The first film from John Carpenter is a hilarious romp in a not-so-glamourous spaceship into the outer reaches of space. A team of astronauts manning the beat-up spaceship Dark Star are on a mission across the universe to seek out and destroy unstable planets. The journey is wrought with mishaps and danger seems to come from the most unexpected places. There are misbehaving pet aliens, suicidal bombs that see no reason to live and want to blow themselves up, frozen crewmates dispensing advice from beyond the grave and a surly, unhelpful main computer that holds the men it serves in total contempt. Despite all these problems, the crew is still bored to the brink of madness. Co-written by Dan O'Bannon, who would go on to write the script for ALIEN, the film is brimming with jabs at the science fiction genre. John Carpenter cut his directing teeth on this film, which he also co-wrote. Made while Carpenter was a college student and produced for very little money, DARK STAR is considered to be the most successful student film ever made.