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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

DARK STAR (1974)

Sci-Fi/Horror film-meisters Dan O’Bannon (ALIEN/’79; TOTAL RECALL/’90) & John Carpenter (HALLOWEEN/’78; STAR MAN/’84) wrote & directed this cinematic amuse-bouche as a USC film school project (very 2001/’68; SILENT RUNNING/’72): cost: $55,000. Padded up to feature length for commercial release, it stuck around in smeary VHS dupes to haunt them as an object of cult worship & derision. Now, with a somewhat cleaned-up picture, a new HyperDrive Edition makes their shorter/original cut available to fanboys and newbies. With its slightly drug-addled spacemen, the woozy tale of a twenty-plus year mission to destroy unstable planets retains a knockabout silliness that’s very winning. Especially so, in a hilarious sequence that finds O’Bannon chasing down a loose ‘pet alien,’ a sort of pre-parody of his own ALIEN that earns extra credit by also sending up THE RED BALLOON/’56. With catchy DIY toy-like F/X, it’s irresistible in its shortened form, with a climax that prefigures GRAVITY/’13, and, in its low-tech juvenile way, is probably more realistic.

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