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Dark Star (1974)

Dan O'Bannon , Dre Pahich , John Carpenter  |  G |  DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Dan O'Bannon, Dre Pahich, Brian Narelle, Cal Kuniholm, Adam Beckenbaugh
  • Directors: John Carpenter
  • Writers: Dan O'Bannon, John Carpenter
  • Producers: John Carpenter, J. Stein Kaplan, Jack H. Harris
  • Format: Color, Letterboxed, Special Edition, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Studio: VCI Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 23, 1999
  • Run Time: 83 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000F169
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,575 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Dark Star" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Theatrical and director's cut

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

DARK STAR was originally intended to be a 68 minute film. Jack Harris, the Hollywood producer, convinced the filmmakers to shoot 15 minutes of extra footage and he released the expanded version theatrically in 1975 through Bryanston Pictures. In 1983, DARK STAR was re- issued to home video as a "Special Edition," created under the supervision and authorization of the filmmakers. This special version, featuring a new technically superior video transfer, had been edited by the filmmakers though, virtually removing all the extra footage. Now, once again for all DARK STAR purest, here is the full length theatrical release version, painstakingly restored, and sporting a new Dolby Digital Hi-Fi stereo sound track. Enjoy! In the mid twenty-first century, mankind has reached a point in its technological advances to enable colonization of the far reaches of the universe. DARK STAR is a futuristic scout ship traveling far in advance of colony ships. Armed with Exponential Thermosteller Bombs, it prowls the unstable planets. But there is one obstacle that its crew members did not count on -- one of the ship's thinking and talking bombs is lodged in the bay, threatening to destroy the entire ship and crew! Bonus Features: Contains 2 Versions: Longer Theatrical & Original Shorter Version| Trailer| Scene Selection| Actor Bios| Remixed 5.1 Track. Specs: DVD5; Dolby Digital 5.1; 83 minutes; Color; 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio; MPAA - G; Year - 1974; SRP - $9.99.

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

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Years Before "Star Wars" March 15, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
A lot of people i know who are not aware that this film was originally released in 1975 fault it for being derivative, when, actually, if anything, the shoe is on the other foot.
Dan O'Bannon's special effects sequences are incredible, especially since the entire budget for the whole film wouldn't buy coffee for an effects house working on teevee commercials today; i am especially taken with the utterly convincing planet-buster bombs made from an HO-scale piggyback trailer turned upside down with engine parts from a 1/25th scale model car attached (if you look closely on a good copy you can still read the logo of the car manufacturer on the valve cover used as part of the bomb's drive mechanism).
So many great lines and sequences in this film -- Pinback and the beachball and the elevator may exceed the Maximum Allowable Funny Quotient for a minor film, and Doolittle's conversation with the bomb (capable of destroying an entire planet) that plans to detonate right alongside the ship, as he leads it into beginning philosophy and convinces it that maybe it *didn't* really hear the "go" code...
The theme song, "Benson Arizona", one of the more warped contry songs one will ever hear, is a hoot; the original is by Carpenter and a lyricist whose name i have lost, and SF fans have been adding verses to it for years.
Watch for the "THX-1138" gag -- for many years (if not still) the only time the *whole* title has been used in a film reference.
O'Bannon worked on special effects on the first "Star Wars" film, and basically borrowed his own "computer search of the blueprints" sequence from "Dark Star" for that film.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark Star April 21, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
It's funny, as I read the other reviews, I struggled to think of something that wasn't said. I was especially tickled by the 1-star review by a guy who obviously didn't get it, and obviously hated it. I can certainly understand how someone would not like it, because it's not a film for everyone. It's very cerebral in parts, and really makes you concentrate to get the message between the lines. It's also very funny, very satirical, and for a low-budget sci-fi movie, the effects are occassionally very impressive. I've tried to show this film to friends who stare at the screen with their head cocked like a dog who has heard a high pitched squeak. It's an acquired taste, and if you're in the right frame of mind (and I don't necessarily mean under the influence of mind-altering substances), you'll love it. The country song "Benson Arizona" still makes me break into laughter alone. The talking bomb is one of the funniest characters to ever appear in a space movie, rivaling HAL and the robot in Fantastic Planet. Watch it with an open mind, and a room full of hard-core sci-fi fans and I think you'll come away pleased.
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cult classic, off the wall, Carpenter's finest May 13, 2003
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
So, I thought I would show this movie to my fiancee and a friend of hers, both of whom I would definitely say are picky and typically like the empty flashy movies that draw in money, but have no substance. She was laughing very loudly by the end (and so was her friend, by the way).
John Carpenter may be known for his other really big hits (Halloween, In the Mouth of Madness [his best, in my opinion], or Vampires), but before fame arrived, he was a student. This was his film. Along with co-conspirator Dan O'Bannon, the two made this student film with zero budget (the chest plate on the star suit is a muffin pan), until it was viewed by a producer. $60,000 and a few extra scenes later, it was released and immediately picked up a cult following. I first saw it on PBS, back in the days when they showed such classic films.
Funny, irreverent, and strikingly enough, deep and meaningful. Don't look for famous actors here, go rent a Bond flick for that. Look for insight into the human spirit, the plight of the isolated, and one of the most humorous sci-fi movies ever made! I highly recommend it for fans of a good comedy or science fiction flick. You won't be disappointed!
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You may recognize parts of this film... May 10, 2001
This is just about the only Hollywood film to recognize the fact that interstellar communication is limited to the speed of light, that artificial personalities may be less than cheerfully subservient, and that deep space exploration may not neccessarily attract the best and the brightest of the human race. Naturally, this is not a movie for everyone. It's very much like a film-school film, but like one made by a couple of VERY talented students. It features a lot of dialogue that wavers between comedy and ironic philosophy, and never really settles on either end of the spectrum. A couple of the scenes involving the beachball - er, alien - were later worked into Alien and Aliens, some of the computer graphics were used in Star Wars, and the overeager and intelligent bomb concept forms a major theme in the entire Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. I love it. But when I say it's not for everyone, I mean it. This is a film to watch with a bunch of serious science fiction lovers (and I'm not talking about Star Wars fans), or alone. You were warned.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie.
Classic movie. I loved every minute of it.
Published 28 days ago by marvin bowers
4.0 out of 5 stars Product was as described, delivery was prompt.
Product was as described, delivery was prompt.
Published 1 month ago by ALLAN cosp
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
An early Dan O'bannon movie. Clever but a little thin.
Published 2 months ago by stephen
4.0 out of 5 stars Pour Yourself A Good Drink, Sit Back And Enjoy.
If you judge "Dark Star" by its technical standards, you might find this movie struggling to make "B" grade. Read more
Published 5 months ago by James Garfield
3.0 out of 5 stars It's ok
The main reason I bought this is because John Carpenter is my favorite director and I needed it for my collection. This movie was made as a comedy, but I didn't laugh once. Read more
Published 5 months ago by smitty jones
4.0 out of 5 stars Take Me Away
This classic spacy odyssey came after 1968's "2001: A Space Odyssey"; however, "Dark Star's" 1975 version felt a lot more realistic with their cramped spaces and... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Bratty Ann
5.0 out of 5 stars The space movie on the quest for the meaning of life and blowing up...
Understand the time from whence it came when considering the film. This is an very early view into the minds of Dan O'Bannon and John Carpenter. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Stephanie Sullivan
4.0 out of 5 stars It's Not Lucas' Star Wars But a Good 16mm Student Film
Before approaching this film, it's content or the technical aspects of the Blu-ray transfer, one must remember it started as an undergrad student short done by John Carpenter while... Read more
Published 6 months ago by John A. Lind
1.0 out of 5 stars Cheesy
Given all the cheesy flicks from the early 1970s (remember Silent Running?), this one stands out for cheesiness. ! Read more
Published 7 months ago by wiredweird
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Alien in all movie-dom.
You have to have a certain warped sense of humor - AND have lived through the anti-war 1970's - to appreciate this amazingly funny movie. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
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