Dark Star (1974)

Director: John Carpenter Run Time: 83 min. Rating: G Release Year: 1974

Starring: Adam Beckenbaugh, Brian Narelle, Cal Kuniholm, Dan O'Bannon, Dre Pahich

Country: United States
Language: English


Presented as part of Mammoth Mondays, a new extension of Cult 101. Restoration courtesy of Shout! Factory and the American Genre Film Archive.


About the film:

“One of the damnedest science fiction movies I’ve ever seen”

—Roger Ebert

This outrageously unique sci-fi semi-spoof was the first feature from genre film emperor John Carpenter. The film originally began as a 45-minute University of Southern California student film project by Carpenter and collaborator Dan O’Bannon (Alien, The Return of the Living Dead) that was eventually expanded into a feature length production.

The film takes place on the deep-space cruiser Dark Star, where a crew of laid-back astronauts (including O’Bannon himself) are assigned the task of blowing up planets with unsuitable life forms in order to make the universe safe for the human race. The leader is Commander Powell (Joe Sanders), who’s cryogenically frozen after being killed in a freak accident. Next in line is Doolittle (Brian Narelle) who tries to keep the rest of the crew in check, which — due to the onset of alien creatures and intergalactic existential hysteria — is a much tougher job than expected.

About the filmmaker:

Director, writer, and composer John Carpenter, founding father of the modern slasher film, is the mind behind classics Halloween (1978), The Fog (1980), Christine (1983), Big Trouble in Little China (1986), and more. Called “a creative genius of raw, fantastic, and spectacular emotions,” Carpenter was awarded the prestigious Golden Coach at Cannes 2019 for his innovative projects. One of his first, the short film The Resurrection of Broncho Billy, won an Academy Award in 1971.

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Trailer