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DARK STAR - 3 Slimes
Rated G
Copyright 1974 Jack H. Harris Enterprises Inc.
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 'a long time ago'

The Characters:  

  • Doolittle - Guy in charge, he's not doing the best of jobs. Burns up trying to surf into a planet's atmosphere.
  • Pinback - Bombardier who seems to have a little space madness, at times he claims to be "Bill Freug." Vaporized.
  • Boiler - Heavyset blonde guy who likes to play with the laser rifle. Vaporized.
  • Talby - Spaced out navigation guy, becomes a "Phoenix Asteroid." (Long story.)
  • The Ship's Computer - Pleasant enough, it would just be nice if she wasn't always saying something along the lines of, "You are about to die." Vaporized.
  • Commander Powell - Original mission commander who was killed by his chair. (Another long story.) Cryogenically frozen.
  • The Alien - It's an orange beach ball with polka dots! Run! Run! Deflated by Pinback.
  • Bomb #19 - Happy little planet killer, annihilates himself and the target celestial body with a smile.
  • Bomb #20 - Neurotic thermostellar device, finally ends it all. Must have been running Windows...

Buy It!

The Plot: 

John Carpenter's first major (Cough.) film is something to behold my friends, what happens when you try to make a special effects bonanza with $55,000? Violent alien beach balls which hop around, space suits made from household materials, and a poor man's Johnny Cash soundtrack. (Though there are some inklings to the theme for Halloween.) Let's face it though, at one point the crew sits down to a nice dinner which Doolittle identifies as ham. What they unwrap from styrofoam trays covered with aluminum foil is mini Otter Pops. In any case, the ship's mission is to destroy planets that might someday fly out of orbit and endanger colonies. To accomplish this they are adequately stocked with intelligent "Thermostellar Bombs." Unfortunately one of them didn't get enough hugs from mommy and daddy bombs when he was little, soon it is lodged in the bomb bay threatening to go off! Talking to the frozen body of Commander Powell is no good, he exhibits the same mental prowess of most nursing home occupants, so Doolittle dons his suit to go out and reason with Bomb #20. After convincing the wayward nuke that it really should think things over Doolittle goes chasing after Talby, the latter gent having been sucked out the airlock and turned into a spinning model figure. Meanwhile Bomb #20 has started it's own theology, any time a fusion device sayeth, "Let there be light." bad things happen.

Note: My review is based on the uncut 83 minute version.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Planet destroying bombs should not have a bubbly personality, it's unnerving.
  • The desolate reaches of deep space are reminiscent of Arizona.
  • Never put all your toilet paper in one place.
  • Sometimes having artificial gravity is a bad thing.
  • Morose surfers are depressing.
  • Elevators constantly run up and down for no reason.
  • Never shoot a balloon with a tranquilizing dart.
  • Viewmaster slides make handy computer panels.
  • It's rather difficult to reason with a neurotic smart bomb.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 5 mins - Thank goodness the bomb knows when he is supposed to go off, but does he have to be so happy about it?
  • 6 mins - Are they zipping through a globular cluster or something? That's a lot of stars.
  • 10 mins - Now we get the credits? Oh heck, the copyright is to a person!
  • 18 mins - And so the scene from "Aliens" finds its roots. Come on Cameron, admit it!
  • 49 mins - In space no one can hear you eat Otter Pops. Yum!
  • 54 mins - Your diary is on 8-track?
  • 61 mins - Talby's space suit is made of the following: silver tape, vacuum cleaner hose, a muffin pan, and styrofoam.
  • 74 mins - Somebody give that thing the electronic equivalent of Prozac.
  • 78 mins - The bomb is quoting Creation, oh that's bad...
  • 81 mins - How did he stop that again?


  • Mission Control: "Sorry to hear about the radiation leak on the ship, and real sorry to hear about the death of Commander Powell."
  • Ship's Computer: "Ship's Computer calling Bomb #20. You're out of the bomb bay again."
    Bomb #20: "I received the signal to prepare for a drop again."
    Ship's Computer: "But I repeat, this is not a bomb run."
    Bomb #20: "Nevertheless, I received the signal."
    Ship's Computer: "It is an error."
    Bomb #20: "Oh, I don't want to hear that!"

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note darkstar1.wav Doolittle: "Storage Area Nine self destructed last week and destroyed the ship's entire supply of toilet paper."
Green Music Note darkstar2.wav Ship's Computer: "Sorry to interrupt your recreation fellows, but it is time for Sergeant Pinback to feed the alien."
Green Music Note darkstar3.wav Pinback: "Idiot!"
Green Music Note darkstar4.wav Bomb #20: "Detonation will occur at the programmed time."
Pinback: "Wouldn't you consider another course of action? For example: just waiting around a while so we can disarm you?"
Bomb #20: "No."
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipdarkstar1.mpg - 2.2m
Disciplining a beach ball is silly enough, but Pinback should have kept a better grip on that broom. There is a funny section later when he tries to use a tranquilizing dart on it, the expected result happens (remember, it is a beach ball).

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Comments:Write CommentPages: [1] 2 3 ... 9
Dark Star
Reply #1. Posted on December 16, 1999, 07:16:42 AM by Squishy
The penultimate B-movie; incredibly cheap and yet few people really care because it's so funny from beginning to end. Saw it for the first time in college; perfect timing. Laughed so hard I thought I'd cream in my pants. The beach-ball alien was a doll, people in the audience cried when he bought it. (Trivia: its claws are those of the original Creature From The Black Lagoon.)  
Dark Star
Reply #2. Posted on December 17, 1999, 10:37:11 AM by
I have to tell you, since we started "Bad Movie Night"  about a month ago, we've seen some bad ones.  "Dark Star", however, takes the cake.  The little beach ball alien was the highlight of the film.  I also love the surfing scene at the end.  I never knew they let potheads be astronauts.

Dark Star
Reply #3. Posted on February 25, 2000, 05:47:06 PM by
This is not only very entertaining (in several ways), it's also very intelligently written as well.  The special effects, for the budget, are excellent, unfortunately most people focus on the beachball and the muffin tin and miss the rest of the first-rate work.  Definitely something for Carpenter and O'Bannon to be proud of.
Doolittle:  "What's MY first name??"
Dark Star
Reply #4. Posted on March 29, 2000, 04:14:06 AM by Brandon
I love this movie! First part of John Carpenters
classic series of films (Dark Star-The Thing).
This is my favorite John Carpenter film and
one of my favorite movies of all time. This is
tied along with Silent Running and Alien as
the greatest sci-fi film of the 70's.   I wonder if
JC named the movie after the Grateful Dead
song of the same name?
Dark Star
Reply #5. Posted on April 20, 2000, 11:04:43 AM by
Dark Star is awesome.  I've been looking for it for a long time, being one of the world's biggest John Carpenter fans along with our band Caplata's bass player, Snook.  I found it in Suncoast last year, and I was thrilled.  I'd heard so much about it and couldn't wait to get home and watch it.  It lived up to and surpassed all the great stuff I'd heard.  If you haven't seen this movie yet, go out and find it right now.
Dark Star
Reply #6. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Justin
I would encourage every fan of dark star to seek out the music of a band called Pinback. They're an amazing band and they use a lot of samples of dialog and sound effects from dark star. honestly i didnt find the movie too entertaining, except for pinpointing samples and lines i'd heard in pinback songs. i did feel a little fan-boy shame for renting the movie on the basis that my favorite band samples it, but i'm always happy to join the club of people who've seen such an obscure movie.
Dark Star
Reply #7. Posted on June 09, 2000, 06:44:46 PM by
This is without doubt JC's best film he's ever produced. The Thing & Halloween are biggies but DS is Mr Big of Bigness!

 I loved this film from A to B. $60,000 and 5 years to finish. The sfx are good considering; the acting decent and the plot is literally out of this world. The only criticism is that it's over far too early.

I don't think JC & Danny O could remake the movie now, even if they wanted too. They probably wouldn't be able to resist the temptation of big bucks, big CGs & loads of scriptwriters trying to write cool words.

But the HUMOUR. Maannn!, the humour, both visual & oral, is priceless. Yeah the's the ball, the elevator and the bomb but there's so much more.

For me this is my 3rd fav SF film after 2001 & Bladerunner. Forget the StarWars bulls**t bandwagon and the Terminator tosspots. Those shallow films hide behind a bagfull of money and nothing much else.

Who needs a DeathStar when you've got Bomb #20


Dark Star
Reply #8. Posted on July 13, 2000, 04:25:50 PM by David
Um... I'm hoping the earlier comments were Sarcasm...  I'm a big fan of bad movies... but this wasn't even a GOOD bad movie.  This was AWFUL.  It was worse than Boogie Nights.  I almost turned it off a dozen times but i kept waiting for some justification for watching what i already had... unfortuantly such justification was not forthcomming.  

Grade A Stinker.

I watched it for free and still feel cheated.  I regret the 85 minutes of my life lost to this film.
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