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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 4 ... 9
Dark Star
Reply #9. Posted on August 20, 2000, 02:52:10 PM by Chadzilla
This is a cute little movie, I've always enjoyed it.
Dark Star
Reply #10. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Big Vic
I think what makes the whole Beach Ball Alien scene so funny was the bits where it somehow wrests the broom from Pinbeck, and the one bit where when Pinbeck drops the rubber squeak mouse on the floor and it like leans forward and clicks its claws expectantly.  That s**t made me howl.  It amazes me how shoving a balloon forward an inch makes me wail with laughter.  Next bit that sticks in my head is the elevator scene with Pinbeck stuck in the floor hole with explosive floorplate-jettisoning surrounding his waist.  When he grabs the phone on the wall after that exhaustive reaching session, and simply shouts "HELP" into the receiver.  

"Hey, do these balloons blow up into all sorts of funny shapes and sizes?"  
"Well no, unless of course you think round is funny."                    Raising Arizona
Dark Star
Reply #11. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Chris K.
John Carpenter's derectiorial debut. DARK STAR remans his best film he has ever made. People may say HALLOWEEN is his best, but I think those people are just lying to us. DARK STAR and Carpenter's supernatural film THE FOG remain to be his best features. Does anybody know the history of DARK STAR? If you don't, then I am here to tell you. DARK STAR was an ametur film made on a budget of $60,000 by Carpneter and his pal Dan O'Bannon. Jack H. Harris (the man who produced THE BLOB [1958], 4D MAN [1959], and Dinosaurs! [1960]) struck it big with the release of EQUINOX (1971; a.k.a. THE BEAST) and financed Carpnters film. However, Harris requested additional esquences to be filmed in order for it to be released (Harris did this with EQUINOX as well). Recently, both the original version and the theatrical version have been issued on DVD by VCI Home Video. The transfer quality is said to be excellent, so buy the DVD as soon as possible. Compared to STAR WARS, DARK STAR kicks George Lucas' right in the ass. So go see DARK STAR.
Dark Star
Reply #12. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by richard
Wer ist der Sänger des Liedes "benson arizona"?
Dark Star
Reply #13. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Dave
This is a fantastic movie!  I'd love to see it remade with a big budget.  Ok so the effects are cheesy but for a college project, the screenwriting, directing, and acting are great.  Not only does "Dark Star" spoof movies like "2001- A Space Oddessy" and "Dr. Strangelove", but certian scenes become the basis for future John Carpenter/ Dan O'Bannon movies.

Remake "Dark Star" with a big-budget please!!!!!
Dark Star
Reply #14. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Ethan

The above comments are right, this movie is great, definitely a classic (Suggested alternate title: 'When Beach Balls go Bad'). However, why hasn't anybody noticed my favorite fact about this film? The scene in the end, when Talby and Doolittle are floating away from each other, is lifted, almost directly, from Ray Bradbury's classic short story 'Kaleidoscope'. In the story an asteroid destroys a spaceship and the astronauts float away from each other until only two remain in contact. One (Talby, in the film) gets caught up in an asteroid shower and floats away, the other (Doolittle, obviously) floats into Earth's atmosphere and burns up (sorry, no surfboard). Even the dialogue is lifted directly from the story. I really loved seeing the story recreated on film; it was a high point in this fabulously cheesy movie.
Overall this is a fun movie, especially with a bunch of friends, MST3K style. I first saw it in at my school's sci-fi club, and at the time I actually thought it was trying to be a serious, respectable film. I must say I was disappointed to read that it was intended as a comedy, it's really a lot more fun to think of it as a hilariously misguided movie, but it's still a lot of fun as-is. I definitely recommend seeing this film, if only for the beach ball/alien sequence, definitely one of the greatest scenes ever. This is a truly worthwhile viewing experience. (And definitely read 'Kaleidoscope' in the book 'The Illustrated Man' by Ray Bradbury)
Dark Star
Reply #15. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Steve
I'm really surprised no one mentioned the ALIEN ties to DS.  Dan O'Bannon (Pinback in DS, and co-writer of both DS and ALIEN) obviously turned some of the Beachball hunting scenes into the basis for ALIEN.  As for this being Carpenters best, I don't know about that.  I am kinda partial to ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 and THE THING, myself...Then there's ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, THE FOG, HALLOWEEN, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA...Ok, I'm a big John Carpenter fan...
Dark Star
Reply #16. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Crisso
Someone once asked me if I ever watched a film called Darkstar...."about 200 times" I replied.
This is one of my fav. films. My fav.part has to be the bomb
phenomonology bit. I'm going to order the DVD as my video copy is now quite bad. I have better quality pornos!
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