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738 Ratings

Dark Star

Directed by John Carpenter
United States, 1974
Comedy, Sci-Fi, Thriller


The misadventures of a deep space wrecking crew. Charged with an endless mission to destroy unstable planets—and long since worn down by routine, isolation, faulty equipment, and each other—they’re slowly pushed to the edge in this offbeat, low-budget response to 2001.

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Dark Star Directed by John Carpenter

Awards & Festivals

Hugo Awards

1976 | Nominee: Best Dramatic Presentation

The whole thing is ridiculous and low-rent, but you can see some of the odd charms of both its makers. Carpenter would parlay the economic filmmaking shown here into a spate of atmospheric classics, while O’Bannon would rework the premise of a working-class ship dealing with an extraterrestrial for his script for Alien.
June 16, 2015
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The extra footage is essential to giving Dark Star its scrappy, lived-in feeling, setting it apart from just about every other sci-fi film.
November 27, 2012
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Thought this was a total bust for a while, but it gets funnier as it goes along, culminating in a glorious finale (“teach it phenomenology”) that anticipates Douglas Adams at his loopiest. Still, it’s plainly a student short that’s been padded out to feature length, and there’s virtually no sign of the compositional magnificence Carpenter would demonstrate in Assault on Precinct 13 just two years later.
April 22, 2012
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What are people saying?

  • josé neves's rating of the film Dark Star

    Fun but too puerile. Obviously the "2001" ironic revision - the talk about phenomenology with the computer, which clearly exposes the mentioned movie's presumption - and the surfing towards death, are moments of great imagination but, in general, has become a film that, though indicative of some of Carpenter's later paths, "aged" badly.

  • Christopher R. Smith's rating of the film Dark Star

    Interesting and offbeat early effort from Carpenter. The bargain-basement special effects and production values somehow only add to its scrappy charms and loopy atmosphere. But working against it is a slow pace and a number of sequences that drag on too long. Maybe not quite consistent enough to be a cult classic, but a fun little movie.

  • Duncan Gray's rating of the film Dark Star

    An auspicious debut for Carpenter, showing space not as the final frontier explored by brave heroes, but as just another setting for mundane, mind-numbing working-class hell. Very primitive, even boring as far as technique goes, and it feels like a 40-minute idea stretched against its will to qualify as a feature. But it has a distinct personality and point of view. For a director starting out, that's enough.

  • Stefan Drees's rating of the film Dark Star

    In my opinion this is one of Carpenter's most appealing films. The trash atmosphere - resulting from an extremely low budget - is compensated by an inventive grasp on the subject with many ironical and philosophical moments. And there are some nice details like the voice and the design of the computer as well as the voice of the bomb (resembling Kubrick's HAL 9000).

  • petit astronaute's rating of the film Dark Star

    35mm. Version Française. Oui, I saw this Z-movie in a very good print where unfortunately everyone spoke French. Tried to imagine the original English version, probably not great either. Nevertheless, the philosophical argument between Doolittle and the Bomb might be funnier and more convincing in French, "Je pense donc je suis," says the Bomb, like Descartes before it. It could have been a good sci-fi comedy Short.

  • Lynch/Fellini's rating of the film Dark Star

    Carpenter wears his influences on his sleeve in the most adorable way here. It comes off as a cross between Stanley Kubrick (namely 2001 and Dr. Strangelove) and The Kuchar Brothers,

  • Bob's rating of the film Dark Star

    Mesmerizing and replay value at its highest - this little mash-up of sci-fi, comedy and thriller foreshadows an unique approach in film-making, where simplistic plot, creative dialogues and rich atmosphere (evoked with hostile synth music) showcase the way of storytelling that goes beyond genre conventions. There's also sense of darkness and claustrophobia in what is otherwise paradoxical geg and homeward love letter

  • Joshua Dysart's rating of the film Dark Star

    Doolittle: But how do you know you exist? Bomb #20: It is intuitively obvious. Doolittle: Intuition is no proof. What concrete evidence do you have that you exist? Bomb #20: Hmmmm... well... I think, therefore I am. Doolittle: That's good. That's very good. But how do you know that anything else exists? Bomb #20: My sensory apparatus reveals it to me. This is fun.

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