Dark Star Hyperdrive Edition: You Know, Alien is a Remake of Dark Star, Right?


Dark Star (1974)
Written by: John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon
Directed by: John Carpenter

After a hilarious and bittersweet crawl written by Mr. Dan O’Bannon at the start of VCI Entertainment’s Hyperdrive Edition of Dark Star (releasing on Oct 26), I was stricken all over by the fact that we’ll never have another film by this amazingly talented renaissance man. Just realizing all the hats he wore not only on this production, but many of his other iconic works, made me realize just what a loss we’ve suffered with his recent passing. It’s with a heavy heart I once again revisit an old favorite.

Paying respect to O’Bannon and his first brilliant film (the directorial debut of fellow icon John Carpenter) on its 36 1/2 year anniversary, VCI Entertainment has unleashed a monstrous Dark Star DVD. The attentive folks at VCI have put together an impressive collection of interviews, documentaries, and other assorted features and treats to go along with a full digital restoration of Dark Star’s 35mm transfer, and man, does it look swell. Lifelong fans of Dark Star such as myself will remember many murky VHS editions that dulled the flashy colors of the film. Now, we’re able to fully appreciate the explosion of color and light that permeates with lush red, green, and blue tones. We’re finally able to experience the asteroid storm to its full effect. When planets are blown up, we are awash in the fiery debris. The soundtrack, featuring John Carpenter’s electrifying score and the various bloops, bleeps, whooshes, and alien screams of the sound design have also been digitally enhanced for a very well-rounded viewing experience.

The product of budding USC film students John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon, Dark Star is a romp of a science fiction action movie. However, I wouldn’t quite call it a parody. It is clearly a funny film, but taken with the utmost seriousness for the genre and audience. Sure, it has many of the usual goofiness of ultra low budget films, but there’s something endearing about the entire thing that the viewer can forgive a little shaky acting and “thrifty” set pieces.

We are on a journey through the deepest of deep space with the crew of Dark Star, the scout ship housing the Advanced Exploration Corps who travel through space to eradicate “unstable planets” using an arsenal of intelligent bombs. The crew consists of daydreaming surfer Pinback, Lt. “don’t give me intelligent life, give me something to blow up” Doolittle, laser targeting obsessed Boiler, loner Talby, and the dead, cryogenically frozen Commander Powell, a motley team of space travelers, each dealing with their own issues in the confined space of the Dark Star. Having been on their mission for many years, they each have their own ways of dealing with boredom while staving off outright space madness. There’s a hitch in the mission when their computer begins malfunctioning, a dangerous alien escapes from confinement, and they must deal with Thermostellar Bomb #20, a bomb that mistakes itself for god.
Despite the limitations of an extremely small budget, Dark Star triumphs as a science fiction film that can stand toe-to-toe against films with many times its budget. The innovation of the crew and special effects artists pushes it beyond just being a goofy sci-fi flick and into territory where the audience can really be wowed by the images on display. It’s a testament to the visual and special effects teams supervised by Dan O’Bannon that the film still stands up with some impressive visuals. It’s really quite fascinating to see what they accomplished on spare change and elbow grease, particularly after the insight from the making-of featurettes. Making a beach ball menacing is no easy feat, after all.


All in all, Dark Star is an intelligent, funny, and yes, thought-provoking movie produced during an era when mavericks still snuck into buildings to shoot last minute scenes or built sets from junk sitting around the house. There’s a reason why people still seek out Dark Star after all these years. Just wanted to again mention the plethora of great features including the feature length documentary “Let There Be Light”, a 3D animated tour of the Dark Star ship, the original and extended versions of the film, interviews with Brian Narelle, author Alan Dean Foster, and most special of all, Dan O’Bannon’s final interview. With three hours of bonuses and the care put into them, this is one of the essential DVD's of 2010.

Greetings. I've Come to Subjugate You With a New Blog


Well, I've been saying I was going to do it for a while now, but I've finally taken the plunge. Yep, I started a new blog. In the ocean of blogs out there, mine is probably just another pebble of shit on top of the mound, but dammit, I love forcing my opinions on unsuspecting internet surfers. If someone enjoys it and interacts with me about movies, that's swell! If they think I'm just another opinionated hack, well, that's ok, too.

You may know that I write for the horror site All Things Horror Online with my buddy Mike Snoonian. We've been going relatively strong over the past year and it's been a blast so far. We aren't quite where we want to be, but we're getting there. I will still continue writing over there, but here I've decided to tackle some things that aren't really appropriate for a horror site. What I'm saying is, there are a few itches not being scratched and I hope to remedy that here. I may occasionally diverge from that and talk about horror, but my main focus is going to be No Things Horror for the most part.

You see, I'm a film junkie. I watch any and all kinds of movies from the very best to the very worst. It's just what I do and I have been ever since I was probably three years of age. I got hooked immediately watching old monster movies and 50's atomic-age sci-fi and have grown to appreciate all types for films from animation to documentaries to Giallo to experiemental. If I may quote the supremely shitty Aerosmith, "I don't wanna miss a thing". Here in Boston, we have a number of awesome independent theaters that work hard to bring in provocative, original, and best of all, true independent film. I spend a lot of time with my butt planted in their seats, and plan to share reactions to as many of them as I have time.

Before I sink too far in this self-indulgent post, I just wanted to thank my pal Fred McKennon, aka The Rev, over at his diabolical site The Reverend Phantom for his gorgeously colorful design work on my banner. I gave him a concept and he ran with it producing a nice piece in a mere couple of days. Thanks, Rev! I urge you to contact the Rev when you need design work as he has designed many great posters and banners for me.

Please forgive the obvious holes scattered throughout this blog. I'm still working on the design. I haven't even really figured things out yet, so it may look different every time you (hopefully) come back.

So welcome to The DIY Drive-In. In the meantime, gimme some feedback. Thanks for reading!