When was the last time you thought of John Carpenter’s 1974 science fiction offering Dark Star? I haven’t seen it since high school, and haven’t spent much time dwelling on it since. The film is Carpenter’s first directorial feature, and largely overlooked within his body of work. Starting this fall, however, Dark Star should be a little bit easier for fans to access. VCI Entertainment will released the Dark Star—Thermostellar Edition Blu-ray on October 2nd. Can’t wait to see the “beach ball with claws” in high definition, that should be epic.
Take a gander at the trailer:
Dark Star is full of the hallmarks that would later proliferate Carpenter’s films. There is that signature bouncing synth score, dated special effects that look like the classic arcade game Asteroid, and a subtle black humor that went largely unnoticed and unappreciated during the film’s initial release.
A campy take on the themes and plot of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dark Star had a whopping budget of $60,000. Carpenter directed, scored, produced, and also co-wrote the eccentric satire with Dan O’Bannon (director of Return of the Living Dead), who starred in the film as Pinback.
In the middle of the 22nd century, deep space colonization has become possible. Dark Star is a scout ship, sent out in advance of the space settlers. Armed with “Thermostellar Triggering Devices”—which are basically artificially intelligent bombs—the ship and crew are on a mission to destroy unstable planets that might impede settlement. They are 20 years and one million light years into their mission when one of these weapons threatens to destroy the entire craft and crew.