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  • Dark Star, 30th Anniversary Special Edition [DVD] [1974]
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Dark Star, 30th Anniversary Special Edition [DVD] [1974]

148 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Dan O'Bannon, Dre Pahich, Brian Narelle, Cal Kuniholm, Adam Beckenbaugh
  • Directors: John Carpenter
  • Format: Box set, Collector's Edition, PAL, Dolby, Digital Sound
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Fabulous Films Limited
  • DVD Release Date: 19 April 2004
  • Run Time: 83 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00019HOMC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,368 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Originally intended to be a 68 minute student film, Dark Star was the creation of University of Southern California film students John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon. It is the twenty-first century story of four bored astronauts in deep space, whose mission is to destroy unstable planets in star systems which are to be colonised. The late Commander Powell is stored in deep freeze, where he is still able to offer advice. As their mission nears completion, they must cope with a runaway alien which resembles a beach-ball, faulty computer systems, and a ''smart bomb'' who thinks it is God...

Features: Stunning New CGI Menus, Theatrical and Special Editions, Commemorative new box packaging, Publicity Stills, Theatrical Trailers, Filmographies, Original Biographies.


Dark Star is absurd, surreal and very funny. John Carpenter once described it as "Waiting for Godot in space." (It's also, surely, one of the primary inspirations for Red Dwarf.) 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 story concerns the Dark Star's crew who are on a 20-year mission to destroy unstable planets and make way for future colonisation. 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. --Jim Gay

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Kelvin Dickinson VINE VOICE on 19 Nov. 2009
Format: DVD
There's a lot to like about DARK STAR. If you're up on 70s science-fiction films, you'll know this is where JOHN CARPENTER and DAN O' BANNON cut their teeth. Subsequently falling out, one went on to direct THE THING, the other to write the original screenplay for ALIEN. But without the experience gained on this, effectively an upgraded 'college project', neither would have been associated in later years quite so vividly with the genre.

Spaced-out hippes travel the cosmos blowing up unstable stars on a pre-colonization mission plagued by continual mishaps, including an intelligent bomb with an existential death wish.

Dark Star is a black comedy which pokes fun at the underlying issues facing a group of hacked-off astronauts who have succumbed to the deep psychological problems associated with being trapped in a confined space - within the realms of infinite space. A perfect handle upon which to hang their subsequent disintegration. And, boy, do these guys fall apart at the seams (even the cryogenically maintained head of their former commander has stopped dispensing good advice and begun a steady decline into gibberish). Only when presented with imminent destruction by a short-tempered and fractious Thermostellar bomb do they actually pull themselves together for a brief but hilarious ethical debate, man and machine in imperfect harmony. Futile, of course, and it's clear by now that things have gone beyond pear-shaped. But moments before what appears to be the bleakest of endings, earlier foreshadowings are thrown into sharp relief (then cleverly realised) and the result - thanks to the sheer AUDACITY of universal order and chaos - is an unexpected pleasure.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By M. E. Gosano on 31 Dec. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
There are some interesting extras included with this Hyperdrive Edition. They include ;

A new text introduction to the film written by Dan O'Bannon who died just before this release.

The original version of the film (68 minutes).

A full-length audio commentary of the final version (83 minutes) by Andrew Gilchrist who tells you everything that is known about the film.

Let There Be Light (115 minutes) is a new, excellent 2010 documentary and includes interviews with many of the surviving cast and crew and archival interviews with John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon. You will find out how the students made the film over three years, exactly where the props and sets came from and how Carpenter and O'Bannon worked with each other.

An interview with Alan Dean Foster (34 minutes) who talks about his novelisation of Dark Star, his meetings with John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon and his other novelisations which included Star Trek and Star Wars, and how he met George Lucas.

An interview with Brian Narelle (40 minutes) who plays Lt Doolittle. He talks about his work on Dark Star, working with John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon, and other work in acting and animation.

A 3D Guide to the Dark Star ship which is a short animation showing you around a few areas of the ship.

The original trailer which gives away a few of the surprises in the film.

A trivia section which details 22 text items.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Paul Hough on 6 Aug. 2011
Format: DVD
I saw this many years ago one wet Saturday afternoon when I was in my early teens and thought this was brilliant. I have never seen it again since and recently after talking about various favourite old films with my partner / girlfriend we decided to buy and watch them together. I don't know who was more disappointed, me or her. Although I was expecting special effects to look dated (they weren't as bad as I thought they would be) the excitement of the story line did not match up to the memory of it. Yes there was some funny bits but if you had already seen them they didn't seem so funny the second time around. Also knowing how it ended seem to spoil the whole thing for me. I would have been better not watching it again and keep my fond memories, especially now that I have to watch 'Gone with the Wind' (Blu-Ray Version).

In summary if you've not seen it before it's worth watching, the special effect are good as long as you aren't expecting something like Avatar. However if you have seen it before don't bother, you'll just spoil any good memories you have of it.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Mr. M. S. Mckinnon on 25 Jan. 2012
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I realise there's going to be people who were involved in the production of this Blu-ray reading this, so I'll try to be as polite as possible... I know it was a labour of love, with a smaller production budget than many other releases out there. So I know you did what you could. Not everyone can be Criterion. I'm a big fan of the film, and I've even seen it theatrically a couple of times, so I want to like this...'s OK. It's not great, but it is an improvement on the DVD. The sound quality is definitely as good as it could ever be, and even then it just is what it is: it sounds like a pretty shaky 70s student effort.

The picture is improved, particularly in terms of dirt and damage removal. There's clearly been some extensive frame-by-frame clean-up here, and it shows. Aside from that, however, it looks soft, hazy, but I guess as good as non-professional 16mm blown up to 35mm can look.

What worries me is a smeary softness to the picture that suggests DNR, and I can't see much in the way of film grain. An earlier comment [now removed, but quoted by a later reviewer] suggests that DNR was used and then fake grain added back in. If this is the case - and the grain that is there looks suspiciously even for such a raggedy film - then that's a very stupid thing to do. No-one who's ever seen this film expects it to look pristine, and you must be aware that it's going to be more film-literate viewers who are the target audience for this. Grain removal is widely regarded as an unwise practice, and if you did that here you've disappointed a lot of people, including me.
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