As part of our wandering approach exploring film rental the latest instalment to drop on the door mat was John Carpenter‘s Dark Star. It’s a weird black comedy about a bunch of bored stoners, some sentient bombs and strange beach ball aliens aboard a deep space planetary destroyer. As it was Carpenter’s first film, and being made in 1974, the special effects are fairly rudimentary. However watching it will immediately remind you of a number of Sci-Fi classics which it predates. For example the opening sequence of the ship is eerily reminiscent of the first scene in Star Wars IV: A New Hope where the Imperial Destroyer tracks across the screen. Reading up on the film afterwards it’s probably not surprising as Dan O’Bannon was picked up to work on Star Wars when Lucas saw the “groundbreaking special effects” in Dark Star.
There are many other things in the film that seem to have influenced what came after it. The control panels and corridors portrayed have evolved from earlier Sci-Fi but certainly defined an aesthetic that has been built on several times since. Although the main computer interaction seems incredibly dated now I’m sure I’ve seen the diagnostic screen used in a number of films since.
Overall it’s an odd film but worth watching if your a student of the history Sci-Fi or Carpenter.