Film: Dark Star

They're not lost in space. They're loose!
— Tagline for the trailer.

Dark Star is a tongue-in-cheek 1974 sci-fi/comedy motion picture directed by John Carpenter (helming his first feature film) and co-written with Dan O'Bannon. Dark Star was ranked #95 on Rotten Tomatoes' Journey Through Sci-Fi.

The film is about the small crew of the titular scout ship, whose job is to destroy unstable planets which might threaten future colonization.

Not to be confused with the video game featuring the cast of MST3K.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Better Than It Sounds Film: The plot: Incompetent hippies on a deep space demolition tour dispel their boredom by chasing and deflating a sentient beach ball. Over-confidently, they then enter a debate with a sentient thermo-stellar bomb.
  • Curse Cut Short: The computer automatically censors obscenities in Pinback's diary entries, including gestures.
  • Dramatic Space Drifting: The ending. Completely Played for Laughs, especially given the music playing at the time.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Surfing into a planet's atmosphere on a piece of debris has to count.
  • Epic Fail: Doolittle's attempt to stop the bomb from detonating.
  • From Bad to Worse: In a diary entry, a very pissed off Doolittle mentions that a malfunction just destroyed the ship's entire supply of toilet paper.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: This movie was originally a 68-minute student short film. When it was acquired for distribution, new footage was added by the producer. Later, John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon re-edited the film into a "director's cut", removing much of the footage shot for the theatrical release and adding new special effects.
  • A God Am I: Doolittle succeeds at convincing Bomb #20 that its external sensory data is a lie and it itself is the only thing it can be sure exists, in a desperate gambit to make the bomb disregard an order to detonate while still attached to the ship. Unfortunately, the character in question uses this new 'insight' to become a solipsist and eventually decides that, in the absence of anything else having any proof of existence, this means it is, in fact, God. And God said "let there be light"... And there was light...
  • Irrevocable Order: The bomb that refuses to drop from the bomb bay cannot be shut off.
  • Killer Rabbit: "When I brought you on this ship, I thought you were cute." A living Happy Fun Ball.
  • Kill 'em All: Did you read the description? It's mostly played for laughs.
  • Logic Bomb: "Let there be light."
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: The entire crew.
  • Oh, Crap: The crew, especially Pinback, when the just activated Bomb No. 20 fails to deploy.
    Pinback: Mark at 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, DROP! DROP! DROOOOOP!
    • And when the bomb reasons that it's God and starts quoting Genesis.
    Pinback: Hey...bomb?
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Pinback and Bomb No. 20.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: The intelligent bombs. Especially Bomb No. 20.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: Four idiots hang around a ship in the arse-ends of space, doing a meaningless construction job none of them wants to do, and get on each others' nerves. The ship breaks down because none of them bother to do any maintenance. Then the ship blows up. Played for Laughs.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The ending was inspired by the ending of Ray Bradbury's short story Kaleidoscope.
    • Guess where indie band Pinback got their name from?
    • The character Pinbacker from Danny Boyle's film Sunshine is (somewhat) named after Pinback, as confirmed by Boyle himself.
    • One piece of debris in the end is labeled THX1138. It also appears to be part of a toilet...
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The title theme is the country/western/Special Theory of Relativity song "Benson, Arizona".
    • ...or perhaps it's not as dissonant as it first seems: Carpenter described the crew as "space truckers" and felt that a sad country and western song about missing loved ones would therefore be perfect for them.
  • Space Does Not Work That Way: While the Dark Star does not make noise in space, it does stop on a dime...intentional use of the Rule of Funny.
  • Space Is Noisy: Mostly of the few movies to get it right, at least as far as ships go. However, explosions are another matter...and apparently in space you CAN hear someone scream....
  • Space Madness: Played completely for laughs. The entire crew has gone visibly unhinged from five years stuck inside cramped space, performing a thankless job that nobody wants and having nothing to do.
  • Starfish Alien: The alien the crew encounters looks like a beach ball with eyes and feet. it's also filled with gas.
  • Take That: A computer screen flashes "FUCK YOU HARRIS" in one scene. Carpenter feuded with producer Jack Harris.
  • Used Future: Taken to the extreme. Quite possibly also the Trope Codifier, predating its later uses in Star Wars and Alien, both of which co-writer Dan O'Bannon was involved with (special effects in the former and writing the original script for the latter, which was heavily reworked from this film after it failed at the box office).
  • Zeerust: The reel to reel computers in the opening communication from Mission Base.
    • Well, he did say there'd been some budget cuts...