Talk:Dark Star (film)

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Missing information[edit]

There are a few things missing from this article. But it's been literally decades since I saw the film last so I'm not in a position to add them:

  • Wasn't there a "director's cut" released on laserdisc?

Wardster321 02:59, 26 March 2007 (UTC) answers:

Essentially yes; though the LD wasn't necesssarily called by that name. The VCI and/or Image Entertainment (listed on the jacket as exclusive distributors) folks included the additional materials from the theatrical release, but moved them to the end of the film, after the LD's last chapter. The LD's jacket discusses this, saying that, "When DARK STAR was originally released in theaters, certain scenes were hastily created in order to lengthen the film to commercially required running time. Carpenter and O'Bannon felt that these additions, deemed necessary by exhibitors, degraded the quality of the film. The worst of these scenes have been omitted from this LaserDisc version, bringing it nearer the filmmakers' original vision. The deleted scenes have been included at the end of the program for the edification of the viewer."(1991 copyrights for artwork and summary, as listed on the back of the LD's jacket. "ID6589VC" is shown on jacket's edge and back side; presumably the LS's catalog code or part number?)
  • The theme song was rather unusual as it was a country music song about relativity; I've heard it cited as an inspiration for similar SF themes like that of Firefly.
  • Wasn't Dark Star also the inspiration for Alien? Again, this was something I remember reading about years ago and I couldn't even hazard a guess where.

23skidoo 04:06, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

The film critic Danny Peary speculates as to that in one of his Cult Movies books. O'Bannon wrote Alien, and he wondered if it could be inspired by that long sequence where O'Bannon has to chase the beachball. Daniel Case 23:52, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

Wardster321 07:31, 26 March 2007 (UTC) answers:

I can offer two unique citations for that question. See "Creative Screenwriting" magazine, Volume 11 number 5 (Sep / Oct 2004); pages 70-73. That article was by David Konow. It was called "Alien 25 years later: Dan O'Bannon looks back on his scariest creation". In the article O'Bannon discusses how Dark Star's Beach Ball Alien came to be; both in terms of what they made it out of, and why they decided to do that. He goes on to say, "It was that beach ball that made me want to do Alien so badly." Second citation: "Fantastic Films" #10 from Sep 1979, pages 7-17; 29-30. (This article was later reprinted in "The very best of Fantastic Films," Special Edition #22.) O'Bannon is quoted in this one as saying much the same thing: that "Back then we were still working on Dark Star, the picture derives some elements from Dark Star. It was like, while we were in the midst of doing Dark Star I had a secondary thought on it -- the same movie, but in a completely different light." Other references most likely also exist, on the subject of Dark Star's influence on Alien.

The review of this film is overly harsh and impatient. Dark Star should be viewed in the context of other 'professional' science fiction films of the 1970's (before Star Wars) against which, Dark Star compares quite favorably. Indeed, the beach ball alien is one of the film's highlights and points to Nick Castle's skill as a physical actor (or puppeteer). The elevator shaft sequence is another moment crafted with no shortage of ingenuity and manages to feel convincing even after one realizes how the illusion was achieved.

The film is available now On DVD through VCI Entertainment. The DVD contains both the original student film and theatrical versions in wide screen.

Hunter Cressall

I find it surprising that there is no mention of 2001: A Space Odyssey in this article. Dark Star clearly satirizes the Stanley Kubrick movie, inasmuch as both movies feature conflicts between the crew and destructive artificial intelligences (Hal in 2001 and Bomb #20 in Dark Star). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:18, 5 March 2009 (UTC)


It appears there may be a number of cases where the names in the film's credits were more or less invented; aliases or something similar, possibly to disguise the idea that fewer people actually worked on it? (May be relatively common, on small films? Robert Rodriguez admits to it, in his Rebel Without a Crew book.) Anyway, while I don't have relevant citations available, I'd suggest that viewers pay close attention to the voices of the two bombs. In my opinion, that's Dan O'Bannon talking. Note also that O'Bannon himself says in the DVD extras for Return of the Living Dead (one of his later films) that the voice of an unseen helicopter pilot, heard over a loudspeaker, was O'Bannon's voice. Wardster321 19:09, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Actually, in the liner notes for the soundtrack, both of the bombs are in fact credited to Dan O'Bannon, while Commander Powell and the voice of Talby are John Carpenter. --tronvillain (talk) 16:57, 6 July 2017 (UTC)


This article needs a spoiler warning.. how do I do that... can someone do it for me please? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:04, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

This is incredibly ancient, but I just noticed it was tucked under an unrelated section. [[WP:SPOILER], so no.

The ending was from a short story[edit]

I remember reading a short story that was obviously used as the basis for the ending of this movie.

It starts in the immediate aftermath of an explosion on a ship near the Earth, with each of the crewmembers drifting off in different directions. One is pulled towards the Trojans (IIRC), I seem to recall another talking about surfing, and the main character is pulled towards Earth. The story ends with a child noticing the re-entering astronaut and wishing on the "shooting star".

Is this ringing any bells? I seem to recall it was in a collection of Nebula winners, or the like.

Maury (talk) 23:13, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Its one of the short stories that makes up part of the Ray Bradbury collection, The illustrated Man. If anybody could get more info I think it should be used. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Taksraven (talkcontribs) 01:33, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

The story was called Kaleidoscope, and was from the Ray Bradbury anthology The Illustrated Man, published in 1951. In the story, several men survive a spaceship explosion and are propelled in different directions. They have a conversation via their suit radios. One man finds himself in a meteor swarm and one enters the atmosphere of Earth and becomes a shooting star as he burns up. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:44, 12 February 2009 (UTC)

  • Is the bomb detonation possibly a reference to Isaac Asmiov's short story The Last Question, where a computer pondering the universe initiates a Big Bang ("Let there be light!")?

Please do not add original research to the article, unless you have a reference that actually show someone in the production of the film saying they used Bradburys ending then you can't say it in the article. (talk) 06:19, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

I have found a citation for the claim and added a sentence to the article about it. I was careful to specify that this is something that viewers have noticed, not something that the writers have admitted. (talk) 03:05, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
From below, O'Bannon is actually quoted back in 1978 as saying "The ending was copped from Ray Bradbury's story Kaleidoscope."[1] --tronvillain (talk) 21:03, 4 July 2017 (UTC)
They made a film of that, with Rod Steiger. scope_creep (talk) 01:32, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
So they did, The Illustrated Man. Looks like they didn't use Kaleidoscope though.--tronvillain (talk) 14:19, 31 January 2018 (UTC)


  1. ^ Fleming, John (December 1978). Skinn, Dez, ed. "Dark Star Review". Starburst. Vol. 1 no. 5. London: Marvel UK. pp. 22–27 – via Internet Archive. 

Fair use rationale for Image:Dark Star.jpg[edit]

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BetacommandBot (talk) 21:11, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

Bad/missing references.[edit]

This article references some things (being singled out as an example of "philosophy in cinema", considered impressive for a student work, and the Vietnam reference) that aren't accompanied by actual references. There were a few references from magazines/books, but nothing regarding what part of the article they correlate to. I hid them for future use. Chad HenningsTOUCHDOWNTHURMAN THOMAS 17:49, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

Darkstar is a Comedy[edit]

This film just plain doesn't strike me as a comedy. (talk) 22:22, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

Yes, it is a comedy. Dark Comedy. Tongue-in-cheek. Whatever genre you want to describe it as, but it is definitely a comedy. Nreive (talk) 08:02, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
It most definently a comedy. A truly excellent science fiction comedy.scope_creep (talk) 20:39, 14 Jan 2011 (UTC)

The only people describing "Dark Star" as a satire on Kubrick's "2001" are not SF enthusiasts, do not know what the word "satire" means and have not seen "2001" or "Dark Star". DS has nothing whatsoever to do with 2001. DS is probably the first true SF comedy movie and to date probably the best. The only thing that approaches it is the BBCs production of Douglas Adams book "The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy". Comedy in SF movies is extremely rare and DS is very much a ground breaker and is worthy of greater appreciation. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:54, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

You are correct, sir - but for one little point. The BBC radio production of Hitchhiker's Guide preceded the book(s). That is all. --Davecampbell (talk) 15:49, 23 December 2011 (UTC)
It's true that DS is not a "satire" of 2001, but it's a remote parody of it. AFAIK, Carptener and maybe also O'Bannon were so annoyed at what they felt to be Kubrick's pretentious pie-in-the-sky metaphysical flights of fancy that they wanted to make a more realistic, "down to earth" reaction film to it (showing us that space travel is much more mind-numbingly boring IRL and how astronauts would just have low morale, become psychotic, care less about their physical hygiene, and get on each other's nerves rather than be some solitary radiant heroes), partly being a parody in how funny it is. Among other things they have in common, both 2001 and DS have a rouge AI killing most of the crew (HAL in one film, bomb #20 in the other), in both films, one crew member is ejected into open space and another has to come rescue him, both films have crew members in hibernation, and I'd say even the spacesuits in DS are a parody of those in 2001. The kind of weird, depressed parody that DS is is incredibly similar to how The Rutles are a parody of The Beatles, only that it's more obvious in the case of The Rutles. In both cases, something really sublime is kinda mocked and dragged into the mud by turning it all profane and pathetic, while the people making the parody show a real love and appreciation for film and what threy're doing on a technical level, and in both cases, the result is so much more than just a mere parody. -- (talk) 18:30, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
Oh, and there's at least one other cult sci-fi comedy film, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984). In more dumbed-down blockbuster sci-fi, comedy is even more common, just see the Back to the future trilogy (1985-90), Spaceballs (1987), Batteries Not Included (1987), Mars Attacks! (1996), the Men in Black franchise (1997-2012), Wild Wild West (1999), Galaxy Quest (1999), or the two Short Circuit films (1986 and 1988). One film that's often mistaken for sci-fi while it was never meant to be part of that genre *AND* is a hilarious satire and important weird cult film in a similar vein as DS is Brazil (1985). -- (talk) 21:12, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

Phenomenology (philosophy)[edit]

The article is wrong concerning the teaching of epistemology to the bomb. I'm sure it was Phenomenology. Phenomenology and epistemology are different fields. One deals with the concepts of conciousness and the other deals with the structure of knowledge.

Also, here is the script entry.

                   No, no, Doolittle, you talk to it.
                   Teach it Phenomenology, Doolittle.

scope_creep (talk) 13:21, 19 November 2010 (UTC)

And for some reason, the article now says "phenomenalism". It's definitely phenomenology. I'm going to go ahead and change it. 2600:1000:B029:CF12:E4B7:C57F:B365:7AC5 (talk) 23:07, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
It's true that Cmd. Powell tells Doolittle to teach the bomb phenomenology by name, but I always thought it was part of the joke (and the reason why the bomb eventually did detonate) that Doolittle got it wrong and taught the bomb about epistemology, not phenomenology as Cmd. Powell had told him. --2003:71:4E6A:B475:8144:87C8:C40C:E28 (talk) 18:17, 6 January 2017 (UTC)

IMDB Trivia page[edit]

The IMDB trivia pages seem to be a less then reliable source and it is used as the primary source for much of the information in this article. If anyone cares please try to find some better sourcing for the article. (talk) 08:15, 17 December 2010 (UTC)

Inappropriate tags[edit]

This article had several quality tags attached, with no discussion of what, specifically, they were intended to address. I've removed the tags, if you replace them please outline your reasons here. Msaunier (talk) 14:05, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

Really you couldn't tell that the article was full of massive amounts of original research and errors? Ridernyc (talk) 17:49, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
But generally speaking drive-by tagging is discouraged, no? - if someone wanted to tag it, it really wouldn't be too much trouble to come here and write a few words on why, would it? I can't remember all the details but some of them do explicitly say "blah blah discussed on talk page" and it's always a bit of a downer when you come here to read about it and the tagger (taggist?) has tagged and, er, gorn. Declaration of interest: yes, I do have a slight bee in the bonnet about this issue! :) Best wishes DBaK (talk) 17:56, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
Not when the reason for the tags is so readily apparent and obvious. In this case you saw there was a OR essay stuck in the middle of the article that was not even formatted correctly. You will notice that most tags now say there "may" be more information on the talk page. When there is such an obvious problem with article removing the tags is highly inappropriate. You will also notice there are several conversation about issues with the article on this page[1][2][3], should the person leaving the tags really need to readdress all of them? I had fixed many of these issues but as you see not only were there still issues present in the article, more were being added.Ridernyc (talk) 18:55, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

Bradbury Tribute section[edit]

I love this article and in particular I think the "Bradbury Tribute" subsection, under "Analysis", is rather good. Having said that I do wonder if Wikipedia is really the right place for it - it seems (at least in its current, unreferenced form) to read a bit like someone's personal analysis with a strong flavour of WP:OR and/or WP:SYNTH. I would hate for this nice stuff to vanish completely from the web but I do wonder if it would not be better housed in a blog/forum sort of environment, rather than presented here as fact. And at the end it starts to tell us what is profound and what is marvelous, which seems a little unusual by WP standards. Can it be referenced from WP:RSs to support what is there, or should it be here at all, or what? Best wishes DBaK (talk) 17:39, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

You are 100% correct it was an original research essay and should not be here. I have removed it. Ridernyc (talk) 17:46, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
Fair enough and thanks. As a courtesy I have dropped a note to the editor who added this material. They don't seem to have been around much, or at any rate not from that particular address, but who knows? I'd be interested to see if they (or anyone) wanted to have a go at rescuing some of this with citations? Best wishes DBaK (talk) 17:52, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
As it turns out, O'Bannon is actually quoted back in 1978 as saying "The ending was copped from Ray Bradbury's story Kaleidoscope."[1]


  1. ^ Fleming, John (December 1978). Skinn, Dez, ed. "Dark Star Review". Starburst. Vol. 1 no. 5. London: Marvel UK. pp. 22–27 – via Internet Archive. 

two trivia questions posed on the DVD extras - need answers[edit]

On the DVD extras, two trivia questions are posed: (paraphrasing) 1. Which character was played by 4 different actors? 2. Which actor was under the influence of LSD, during which scene? Does anyone have those answers, and should they be added somewhere in the article? (yes please!) --Davecampbell (talk) 15:54, 23 December 2011 (UTC)

I believe the character under the influence of LSD was Pinback during the playing of his diary recording when was laughing. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Charlie42s (talkcontribs) 00:40, 14 February 2013 (UTC)
I watched the documentary on the DVD Special Edition. I believe the character played by 4 different actors question was an absurd joke. If this was the case, the one character was actually the 4 astronauts or 'truck drivers'.

Charlie42s (talk) 16:19, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

Since Carpenter apparently also did the voice for Talby (uncredited) and a double was used for Talby's body in scenes with Doolittle when the camera was on Doolittle, it's probably Talby.--tronvillain (talk) 12:54, 4 July 2017 (UTC)

Original and theatrical length[edit]

I changed the 45+38 numbers to 68+15. (Sorry, I forgot to note it in the 'type of edit' box.) I admit that the 45+38 numbers make more sense but they are not cited and my DVD box says 68+15. I don't know how to write out a citation of that nature but it could be so added if someone wanted. (The DVD is copyrighted 2001 Blair & Associates, Ltd. and is distributed by VCI.) On that note, my DVD says nothing about a transfer from types of film like this article mentions in the same area I edited. I also think the DVD subsection is a little misleading in that my 2001 edition does have both versions of the film, though not the other special features mentioned. But, still, the article makes it sound possible that the 2010 edition was the first to feature both versions and that's not the case. It just as the featurette/commentary additions. - (talk) 01:20, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

This is ancient, but since I've made some related changes, I'll comment in case anyone comes looking. Most sources seem to agree that the original student film was forty-five minutes (I've seen one that said fifty), but that was back in 1972.[1] After that, various footage was shot and the theatrical release was eighty-three minutes. The sixty-eight minute cut came after the home video release, but O'Bannon never seems to have claimed that it was the same as the student film or even what they had before Harris became involved. --tronvillain (talk) 16:35, 28 June 2017 (UTC)


  1. ^ Rausch, Andrew J. (7 February 2008). Fifty Filmmakers: Conversations with Directors from Roger Avary to Steven Zaillian. McFarland. pp. 39–40. ISBN 978-0-7864-8409-6. We started out with something like forty-five minutes of footage, and we had a lot of faith in that footage. 

"The 'Beachball with Claws' segment of the film was reworked"[edit]

This strikes me as a dubious extrapolation. If one consults the more accessible Konow article, the description is

Although it solved a major problem on the film, O’Bannon later said, “I was never thrilled with it,” and the experience left him wanting to create a frighteningly real alien one day. “It was that beach ball that made me want to do Alien so badly."

I'm not seeing anything resembling a "reworking" of the scene itself. (talk) 21:45, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

I think what they meant to say by the word "reworked" is that the entire beachball alien sub-plot was added as part of the additional new footage to make the film long enough for theatrical release. --2003:71:4E6A:B475:8144:87C8:C40C:E28 (talk) 18:22, 6 January 2017 (UTC)

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Great Looking Student Film[edit]

Back in 2013 this line was added by an anonymous editor without citation: John Carpenter would later lament that as a result of this padding into a feature length movie, their "great looking student film" became a "terrible looking feature film". Nothing I can find appears to precede this, though there are many uses of the line appearing afterwards. -tronvillain (talk) 20:59, 21 June 2017 (UTC)

Ah, it turns out to have been O'Bannon, not Carpenter, in the Let There Be Light: The Odyssey of Dark Star documentary. --tronvillain (talk) 22:45, 21 June 2017 (UTC)

Special Effects[edit]

This has all been uncited for years, so I'm moving it here in case anyone has anything to support any of it:

In the "elevator" sequence, the bottom of the elevator is in fact rolling on the floor. The device used to roll the elevator base was a Moviola camera dolly normally used on the small sound stage in the old USC Cinema building (a former horse stable). The steering arm of the dolly can be seen in the "elevator's" underside. Talby's starsuit backpack is made from Styrofoam packing material and his spacesuit chestplate is a cake pan and muffin tray. The space helmets were part of Ideal Toys S.T.A.R. Team toy line for young children,[1] resulting in the snug fit on the adult actors' heads. The double rows of large buttons on the bridge consoles are ice cube trays illuminated from beneath. Sergeant Pinback's video diary is an 8-track tape and the machine he uses to read and record is a microfiche reader. The bombs are made from an AMT 1/25 scale semi-trailer kit and parts of a 1/12th scale model car kit; "Matra", the name of the car brand can be seen in some shots.[2] The space suits are made to resemble the space suit of the Mattel action figure "Major Matt Mason", which was used in slightly modified form as a miniature in some effects shots.
The film featured the first hyperspace sequence to show the effect of stars rushing past the Dark Star vessel in a tunnel-effect (due to superluminal velocity) and the technique was used in Star Wars three years later.


William Froug[edit]

Pinback simply stating that he is actually Bill Froug, liquid fuel specialist, doesn't establish it as fact within fiction. After he tells the others, they comment:

B: "He told us this... four years ago, didn't he?" D: "No, I think it was four years ago." B: "That's what I said... I'm sure it was four years ago." D: "Maybe."

That's an acknowledgement of the claim, but it is neither a confirmation nor a denial of it being true. --tronvillain (talk) 22:40, 4 July 2017 (UTC)

He also puts it in his video diary, and the fact it is in the script, means its fact, within fiction of course. It could also be sign of their general mental decay. He does say, that he put on Bill Froug's suit, when Froug waded into a fuel bay. But surely fuel is held in tank. How could you wade into a tank? Pinkback supposedely waded in, wearing Bill Frugge's space suit, to save Bill Frugge. scope_creep (talk) 01:30, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
It's a fact that he makes the claim, but nothing else in fiction establishes that claim as true. And where did you get the spelling? Oh wait, he spells it in the diary, doesn't he? In the book, not the movie.--tronvillain (talk) 14:06, 30 January 2018 (UTC); edited 15:08, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
I read the book years ago. Did he not speak about it, when he was sitting in front of his video diary, on the Dark Star. It has been a while since I saw it. I think the spelling is arbitary. scope_creep (talk) 16:35, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
In the movie he says it but doesn't spell it. In the book, he says "I just wanna say that I am not Sergeant Pinback. My real name is Bill Frug. Frug. F-R-U-G." The version of the script I've seen doesn't have the video entries. --tronvillain (talk) 17:15, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
Maybe it has been cut from the American version, or whatever version you seen. In the UK version I saw, he sits in front of his video diary, about 4 or 5 times, talks about this and that. I think it indicates the monotony of being in decaying ship, more than 20 light years from home. I'll get a copy of it, and watch it again. I'll get back to you in a couple of days. scope_creep (talk) 19:11, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
No, he mentions it, he just doesn't spell the name in the film as he does in the book.--tronvillain (talk) 19:31, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
tronvillain, sorry, I was talking about the fuel story, and how he waded in the tank. scope_creep (talk) 19:34, 30 January 2018 (UTC)
Aha. Yes, that does seem odd. While tanks can technically have open tops, it seems unlikely you'd store fuel in one. As you say, it could definitely be part of their general mental decay. --tronvillain (talk) 19:45, 30 January 2018 (UTC)