Before he became world renowned as a master
of suspense for his work on films such as Halloween (and the
frequently haunting scores which accompanied them), director John
Carpenter was a film student working on what is very possibly the
world’s most meagrely budgeted space opera.
The end result ran only 68 minutes and is a
clumsy masterpiece of stoner comedy, unconvincing set dressings,
astonishingly variable acting ability and filmmaking on a shoestring.
After consultation with Hollywood producer Jack Harris the budding
auteur was convinced to add an additional 15 minutes of footage to the
production, and following its release in 1974 the film promptly garnered
cult status, becoming a firm favourite of schlock buffs and film critics
The 2-disc Hyperdrive edition contains both
the early cut and the theatrical editions of the film described only
half-ironically by Carpenter as ‘Waiting for Godot in space.’
Okay, three quarters ironically. It also includes a host of worthwhile
extras, including a feature length making-of documentary replete with
interviews and archival footage, a 3D guide to the Dark Star
ship, an entertaining audio commentary with ‘superfan’ Andrew Gilchrist
and more, in addition to a remastered widescreen transfer and digitally
enhanced 5.1 surround soundtrack.
It’s the best this oft-overlooked film has
ever looked or sounded by a long shot, and worthy treatment for this
classic sci-fi spoof which heralded such brilliant things to come.