Posted by martinteller on August 10, 2012
The “Dark Star” is a spaceship which for the last 20 years has been cruising around the universe, its small crew blowing up planets due to go supernova. They could also search for intelligent life, but they find that rather boring (although they do have one alien on board, a mischievous beach ball with feet). When a mishap occurs, the crew needs to think fast to avoid being blown to smithereens. Problem is, these guys aren’t too used to thinking fast.
With some nods to 2001: A Space Odyssey (and perhaps a little of Dr. Strangelove to boot), this film spoofs the sci-fi genre, turning the usual model of the ultra-professional astronaut on its ear. Screenwriter (and actor, among other jobs on this film) Dan O’Bannon would revisit the scruffy, working-class space traveller and other elements in “Star Beast”, the script which would serve as the basis for Alien. Of course, that script would undergo significant revision, something that pissed off O’Bannon despite being a massive improvement.
But this screenplay isn’t terrible. Some of it is really quite funny, especially O’Bannon’s hi-jinks with the alien and a philosophical debate with the bomb. Other gags or scenes don’t work as well, but nothing here is truly awful. Yeah, the performances aren’t great and the editing is awkward and the story structure is uneven. The film is quite obviously low-budget. But somehow it kinda won me over. It’s John Carpenter’s first feature, but I like it more than most other stuff I’ve seen by him. Despite its flaws, the movie does have a “labor of love” charm to it and is short enough not to wear out its welcome. And for $60,000 it’s pretty impressive. Plus, Carpenter’s synth-based score is terrific as always (I think the guy should have made a career as a composer rather than a director). Fun little flick. Rating: Good (71)