Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dark Star (1974)

After seeing Idle Hands, I never thought that this sentence would erupt from my mouth, but I think that Dark Star wins the award for most ridiculous stoner film/comedy ever! It's a heaping mound of absurdity, tied up with terrible effects, 70's hair, and the most apathetic actors I've ever seen. Clearly a masterpiece, this melancholic movie was written and directed by none other than the legendary John Carpenter (while he was in film school no less) and Dan O'Bannon (of Alien fame; in fact, the legendary "beach ball alien," who was launched to stardom after his 15 minutes of feature film fame in this piece of serious yet silly sci-fi cinema, actually served as the inspiration for the Alien movies = crazy!), and that is certainly saying something. The whole thing is the perfect picture of dark comedy with a riotous plotline of 4 dudes hanging out in space for 20+ years blowing up unstable planets; they slurp out of packages, they listen to interminable elevator music announced by a gorgeous and invisible female, and they're pretty much just totally insane. One character spends every minute up in a glass dome staring at the infinite abyss and mumbling about some mystical Phoenix Asteroids, which apparently not only exist, but are also prepared to whisk said loony off into their midst to travel the length of The Universe and contemplate on the glittering mysteries of life. A different dude actually surfs into a hostile atmosphere, and to his death, on a piece of exploded space ship after having a clearly convincing conversation with an elusively eloquent bomb about phenomenology. And one guy isn't even supposed to be there! Add in a dead commanding officer that can still chat it up in his frozen state, a sense of cabin fever that promotes playing with lasers and a prominently phenomenal scene that involves an organ/xylophone made of plastic containers and water, given due respect by the original electronic music composed by Carpenter himself, and you just may have the most awesome movie I've seen in a while. And so surprising! It came out before Star Wars for one and this undeniably gives a greater sense of appreciation for both films (the use of computer graphics in Dark Star is an accomplishment and awful at the same time [I felt like I was watching an Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode the whole time!]; the music fares better in my opinion). And apparently it's confusing for the more modern, drug-free mind, because the VHS cover describes it as a "space parody" and "the ultimate cosmic comedy!," which I don't think give this juicy jewel justice. So what if their costumes are made of packing foam and muffin trays! All in all, I was unprepared for the movie magic that would unfold before me. It's so refreshing to see a concept creation instead of something more materialist! Hooray for free-thinking!

Final judgement: "Bring on the packing tape!: A gorgeously grim look at space travel, the future, hell and heaven all in one; with obvious Strangelove and "No Exit" overtones and a touch of all things glorious: Philip K Dick and Ray Bradbury!"

For an awesome site on atomic rockets....

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