(director/writer: John Carpenter; screenwriters; Dan O’Bannon/from the story by Dan O’Bannon & John Carpenter; cinematographer: Douglas Knapp; editor: Dan O’Bannon; music: John Carpenter; cast: Brian Narelle (Doolittle), Dan O’Bannon (Pinback), Andreijah Pahich (Talby), Cal Kuniholm (Boiler), Cookie Knapp (Voice of Computer); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: G; producer: John Carpenter; United Home Video; 1974)

An enjoyable lightweight outer-space hippie spoof.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The debut sci-fi film ofJohn Carpenter (“Halloween”/”Assault on Precinct 13 “/”The Fog”) is a rare cult comedy about astronauts who become weary in outer-space. It’s a parody of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Considering its low-budget ($60,000), its special effects are brilliant.It’s based on the story byDan O’Bannon & Carpenter. The two were students at the University of Southern California when they made the film. Carpenter has referred to the film as his Waiting for Godot in space.

Set in the middle of the 21st century, where the spaceship Dark Star has been for the last twenty-years on a mission in outer space to explore and destroy unstable planets, that might threaten the galaxy, with intelligent talking bombs. When Commander Powell accidentally is electrocutedbecause his seat short circuits, he’s stored half-alive in deep freeze where the crew from time to time can seek his advice. The remaining four men crew–the dreamy acting commander and ex-surfer Lt. Doolittle (Brian Narelle), the restless neurotic Sgt. Pinback (Dan O’Bannon), the gun happy psychotic Boiler (Cal Kuniholm), and the loner star gazer Talby (Andreijah Pahich), try to keep sane by writing diaries as they deteriorate along with the ship.

The crew must cope with boredom, personal disagreements, an unruly alien mascot in the form of a beach-ball with claws, a faulty talking female computer system due to being hit by an asteroid shower and a “smart bomb” that questions the new order to abort a bombing missionwhich will destroy them since it’s stuck in the cargo section. The only way it can be stopped is if Doolittle can talk some sense into the bomb and convince it that it should cancel its countdown because conditions have changed.

An enjoyable lightweight outer-space hippie spoof.