Dark Star

Working in a video store during the late ’80s, I discovered this comedy sci-fi classic in a pile of returns. Later, settled in front of the telly with some booze, I wondered why I’d never heard of John Carpenter’s Dark Star before. By that time the film was already over 13 years old, having first appeared to movie goers in 1974.

Originally a student collaboration shot on 16mm film, it was seen by producer Jack H. Harris, who bought the rights , had the film transferred to 35mm and financed the addition of extra footage to bring it up to feature length.

If I distilled the movie down to one scene in order to effectively communicate it’s surreal charm, I’d choose Lt Doolitte’s philosophical discussion with a malfunctioning smart bomb. He employs phenomenology in an ultimately futile attempt to stop it from detonating. Arguably one of the more memorable scenes in cinematic history.

Sgt. Pinback’s hilarious struggle with the ship’s alien mascot, essentially a beachball with talons, is worthy of mention. Carpenter’s co-writer Dan O’Bannon (who played Sgt. Pinback) later went on to develop that idea into the sci-fi horror classic, Alien.

If you find yourself wanting more of the cult classic,  here is the original trailer.

2 responses to “Dark Star”

  1. Jarnot says:

    Ah, the classic paralyse-the-computer-by-means-of-logical-paradox plot device! One of my favorites….


  2. aussiemandias says:

    They later used the same device in Logan’s Run (1976) It was a free-for-all following that. But at least Carpenter’s example had a sense of humour.

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