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Dark Star
Finsterer Stern

USA 1974
produced by
John Carpenter, Jack H. Harris (executive) for Jack H. Harris Enterprises
directed by John Carpenter
starring Brian Narelle, Cal Kuniholm, Dre Pahich, Dan O'Bannon, Joe Saunders, Miles Watkins
written by Dan O'Bannon, John Carpenter, production design, special effects supervision & edited by Dan O'Bannon, special effects by Ron Cobb, Gregory Jein, Bob Greenberg, Harry Walton, John C. Walsh, music by John Carpenter

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The spaceship Dark Star has been travelling the universe for 20 years, always searching for new star systems for humankind to colonize, & clearing it of unstable planets (using their thinking bombs). Mission control (Miles Watkins) back on earth calls them heroes ... but life on board the Dark Star is not exactly Star Trek ...

The commander of the mission, Powell (Joe Saunders) has died ages ago, their mission bores the four remaining crewmembers to death, they don't really care about each other all that much, let alone are able to communicate with each other. One of them, Talby (Dre Pahich) has even gone so far as to retreat almost entirely onto the observation deck. & then there's their mascot, an alien that is more of a nuisance, & there is a fault in the bomb bay communication system, causing bomb number 20 to repeatedly arm itself for no particular reason ... & for the ship's computer it gets harder each time to persuade the bomb to disarm itself again.

Soon, too, Pinback (Dan O'Bannon), the lowest ranking crewmember - who ever so often claims he is only here by accident, & actually isn't Pinback at all but a fraud -, who has to feed the alien, lets it escape & when trying to hunt it down is almost killed in the elevator shaft (... if you think now that this movie might presage Alien from 5 years later, you are of course right, & in case you wondered ... Dan O'Bannon did also script Alien). When he finally manages to kill the alien, he has to discover it was almost entirely made of gas (as it should be, being actually little more than a painted giant inflatable ball). When he tells this to the others though, they are of course not impressed.

Later, Bomb Number 20 wants to go off again, but this time for good, as the computer fails to persuade it otherwise. The crew is left with no clue of what to do, so Doolittle (Brian Narelle) decides to speak to the dead commander (who is frozen but his mind is somehow kept alive) about what to do ... & he tells him to reason with the bomb, teach is phenomenology. So Doolittle has to hop into his spacesuit & convince the bomb that no information it's scanners receive might be real ... at least there is no proof for it ...

The bomb is convinced (for the time being) & terminates its contdown for explosion. But when Doolittle wants to reenter the ship through an escape hatch, Talby is sucked out (fortunately wearing a spacesuit) & flies off into deep space. Doolittle, wearing a jetpack, goes after him to get him back ... when the bomb realizes the reason for its being is to explode ... boom, the Dark Star goes out in a bang ...

Doolittle & Talby are soon marooned in space, but Talby soon becomes part of the Phenix asteroids he has always admired (mainly because they glow in all colours of the rainbow) while Doolittle, a surfer when still back on earth, soon finds a piece of debris from the ship he can use as a board when being sucked into the orbit of the nearest planet ...


A wickedly funny comedy, Dark Star mainly works though because it is way more realistic than the thousands of space operas that came before it & that showed its astronauts as heroic figures (which too can be quite charming at times), always ready to risk their lives or at least standing on the threshold of some major universal development (think 2001: A Space Odyssey here) ... Dark Star shows characters who have already grown numb, who care more about (the entertainment value of) big time explosions than finding new lifeforms, & who care more about their next meal ("I bet it's chicken") than possible securtiy leaks on the ship ... & somehow one just can't help but understand, maybe even like them ...


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD