Let me preface this review by fulling acknowledging that I’m cheating a bit by including this one. Basically with this 31 day challenge I want to include films I’ve been meaning to watch or haven’t seen 50 times before. Dark Star is one I bought a couple years back and have been meaning to watch, mainly due to it launching the careers of John Carpenter (no intro needed) and Dan O’Bannon (Alien, Return of the Living Dead). I did not until I was actually watching it that it wasn’t a horror flick at all but more of an absurdest comedy. But by that time my mind was made up to watch it as part of this challenge, however, if it weren’t for the people involved I wouldn’t have decided to include it here.
It’s a weird little movie about a space crew charged with blowing up unstable planets (whatever that is). They’ve been out on the job for 20 years and their captain as died due to a faulty rear seat panel, though they keep him in the cryogenic chamber so they can still communicate with him through some kinda sci-fi means. The crew is written as bored trucker types and the film basically watches what they do in their down time. The ship itself is decorated up like a truckers rig, with pin up girls plastered to the walls and their belongings scattered about the place — a stark contrast to the antiseptic sets used in most sci-fi movies. The crew themselves are very unkempt and spend their time playing solitaire and goofing off. Meanwhile, Bomb #20 is itching to explode and circuitry issues on the ship keep getting it’s hopes up for it’s deployment, only for the ships computer to talk it down. Pinback (Dan O’Bannon) has brought an alien on board to keep them company (which is a beach ball with claws) that turns feral on him and he has to shoot, which causes the creature to deflate and fly around like….a beach ball. O’Bannon decided to do a serious version of this idea for Alien. Various other silliness happens, including Pinbacks video diary log in which he reveals he is not Pinback but another crew member who committed suicide. He casually admits to the stolen identity before complaining to mission control that Pinback’s underwear does not fit.
Part of the charm of the film is watching what happens in it, so I’m not gonna give a rundown of it and it’s hard to describe the plot because basically there really isn’t one. Dark Star is about bored people doing stupid things, and that’s about it. Check it out if you are curious about the creators earlier work or are a fan of 2001: A Space Odyssey or Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. After having watched it, I wasn’t sure I really liked it, but I have a feeling it will grow on me a lot after a couple more viewings.