Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Movie Review: "Dark Star" (1974)

Director: John Carpenter
Year: 1974
Rating: G
Running Time: 1 hour, 23 minutes

An oddball crew of astronauts is forced to deal with a malfunctioning ship, a rambunctious alien, and a stubborn artificially intelligent bomb.

Dark Star 1974 space movie
"The planet just exploded, sir!" (Image Source)
How do you make a movie with an alien beach ball and only feature it in one scene?! Bad form! "Dark Star" is the feature-length film debut of director John Carpenter, who would go on to direct such classic films as "Halloween," "The Thing," and "They Live." Carpenter helped write the screenplay with Dan O'Bannon, who has had a noteworthy career working on films like "Alien," "Return of the Living Dead," and "Total Recall." This movie revolves around the crew of the Dark Star spaceship. Their mission is to destroy planets that are in the way of navigation routes. Lieutenant Dolittle (Brian Narelle), Boiler (Cal Kuniholm), Talby (Dre Pahich), and Pinback (Dan O'Bannon) have been in space for upwards of 20 years and are a bit stir crazy because of it. To make matters worse, their ship is also beginning to malfunction. As of this weren't enough, the crew's pet alien escapes from its room, and one of their planet-destroying bombs refuses to listen, which puts them all in jeopardy.
Dark Star 1974 science fiction space movie
"We are in a crisis situation." (Image Source)
Whoaaaaaaaa, nelly. What a stinker. "Dark Star" is a micro-budget sci-fi "comedy" that kicked off the careers of two men who have been involved in some of our favorite sci-fi and horror films throughout the decades. We had heard a lot about the premise of this film and hoped it would provide some kitschy fun with all of its cheap, low budget effects and props. Unfortunately, we found ourselves bored while watching this. There is basically no substance to the story itself. In fact, we're hard-pressed to remember any details about "Dark Star" and we literally just watched it. The only sequence that is worthwhile is the one with the final negotiations with the ornery, sentient smart bomb. Apart from that, this movie is a complete dud. We were promised an alien that looked like a beach ball, and while we theoretically got what we were promised, to our shock, there is only one scene with it! All that uproar for nothing, what a waste. We had hoped this scene would be at least entertaining, but alas, it wasn't. This is a little sad considering it looks as if this sequence was Dan O'Bannon's inspiration for "Alien."
Dark Star 1974 John Carpenter science fiction movie
"When I brought you on the ship, I thought you were cute." (Image Source)
"Dark Star" may make an interesting watch for people who want to see where John Carpenter started his career, but only if you're engrossed in film history to see what can be done with very little money and a lot of creativity. Beyond that, this is a total slog that holds little real entertainment value, which is disappointing, to say the least. At least Carpenter went on to make bigger and better films.

My Rating: 2/10
BigJ's Rating: 2/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.4/10
RT Rating: 79%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

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