Dark Star
John Carpenter's directorial debut is not a slasher, an apocalyptic horror, nor about supernatural phenomenons. It's a movie about the crew of the Dark Star who've been traveling through space for the past twenty years. The four men are part of a deep space exploration unit established to pave the way for human migration by destroying unstable planets.

With long beards and puffy fros the crew of Dark Star are unstable to say the least. Surfer Doolittle has assumed command of the ship since the untimely almost death of Commander Powell. Fortunately the crew put him in a cryogenic freeze in case of emergency and needed advice. Powell seems to be a little hurt since they only visit his ice block when something bad has happened. Talby sits in the observation tower never leaving not even for his meals. He obsesses over the stars and dreams of one day seeing the Phoenix asteroid. Sgt. Pinback is only on the mission because of a janitorial miscommunication. His name isn't even Pinback. Heck, Pinback's clothes don't even fit, the underwear is too loose. The Sergeant spends much of the movie chasing his escaped pet alien, getting stuck in elevator shafts, and video journaling how much he hates the crew. The main plot point of the film occurs when the bomb arms itself but refuses to detach from the ship. Will the crew be able to talk the existential bomb down or will the ship suffer the fate of their destroyed planets?

I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed this film. An exciting little project obviously taking what Kubrick took so seriously and making it sing with satire. The best way to describe the film would be a scoop of Space Odyssey and Strangelove ice cream with hot steamy Carpenter sauce ladled on top.

Being Carpenter's first film it's easy to see his vision and gift at making something from nothing. The beach ball alien is a true testament of his imagination. A beach ball with claws hops around the ship and you don't bat an eye. I also laughed out loud when the ships toilet paper supply is accidentally destroyed. Can you imagine? Another twenty years in space and no more T.P.?

I will have to rethink my Carpenter top 5 list but this one might be moving up the ranks. I highly recommend to any established fan. For the casual Carpenter fan I would probably say stick with his classics and leave this one to the die hards...(or Kubrick lovers)

Reviewed by: shea