Friday, August 24, 2012

News: DARK STAR (1974) "Thermostellar Edition" Blu-ray Coming In October

VCI Entertainment has announced that the 1974 Dan O'Bannon/John Carpenter sci-fi satire, Dark Star, will be receiving a high-definition Blu-ray release on October 2. The VCI website gives few details, but presumably, this will contain all the features of the previous DVD edition released by VCI, along with a new, high-definition transfer (and much more attractive packaging).

In the mid twenty-first century, mankind has reached a point in its technological advances to enable colonization of the far reaches of the universe. DARK STAR is a futuristic scout ship traveling far in advance of colony ships. Armed with Exponential Thermostellar Bombs, it prowls the darkest reaches of space on a mission to seek out and destroy unstable planets ahead of the colonist. But there is one obstacle that its crew members did not count on -- one of the ship's thinking and talking bombs is lodged in the bay, threatening to destroy the entire ship and crew! DARK STAR was originally intended to be a 68 minute film. Jack Harris, the Hollywood producer, convinced the filmmakers to shoot 15 minutes of extra footage and he released the expanded version theatrically in 1975 through Bryanston Pictures.

The suggested retail price is a very reasonable $19.95; Amazon already has it listed for pre-order at a discounted price of $14.99.

Pre-Order: Dark Star - Thermostellar Edition (Blu-ray)


  1. The first time I ever saw Dark Star was when I was in grade school. The High School had a showing of the movie which my parents brought me to see. It was wonderful, confusing, breathtaking, funny, and strange all in one bag. But it hardly stayed in my memory for years after seeing it. Earlier this year, I think it was your blog or a post somewhere else where I was impelled to find out more about this movie of which all I could remember was a guy in a dome, a talking box car, an alien beach ball, and a guy stuck in the floor of an elevator. I wound up tracking down a copy to watch and it was great. I still really enjoyed the film, and was awe-struck to find out that the director was John Carpenter (of horror film fame) and the writer was Dan O'Bannon, the same guy who wrote the screenplay for Alien. I think, when we finally buy that Bluray player, we will pick this up as soon as possible. Thanks for posting about it!

  2. This is great news .I love John Carpenter.Escape from New York 1981 is my all time favorite film

  3. I love this movie. I first saw it as a kid when it come on Showtime in the late 70's. At the time, it couldn't compare to Star Wars or any of the other shows that were out. But what grabbed me was the story and the pathetic nature of the crew. Here I was watching heroes in all of these other movies, but Dark Star was about a band of burned-out misfits. The effects were cheap, the actors were pretty bad and the music was...well, laughable. But there was a certain charm to it that endears me to the film. I picked up the DVD about eight years ago and revisited the film for laughs. However, I came to appreciate the film and what these guys did to get it off the ground. John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon did a great job for $60,000 and O'Bannon used the premise to create the script for Alien. If you haven't seen it, give it a chance, but understand the story behind the film before watching it. You'll appreciate it more that way. I'll be picking this up on Blu-ray with the link provided. Thanks, Christopher!

  4. What happened to John Carpenter? He was once the bona fide master of the indie world, crafting celluloid delights that clearly conveyed his passion for cinema. These days, he just seems content to either rake in money from terrible "re-imaginings" of his crowning achievements, or to churn out soulless DTV trash of his own in order to fatten what must be a rather considerable pension fund. Tragic indeed! It was my great pleasure to attend a Q&A with him at London's Barbican centre back in 1997, in which he criticised the studios for their lack of creative courage! Then look what happened! Oh well, at least we'll always have Dark Star!

  5. Still never got around to seeing this one. I have probably been almost ready to buy it a dozen times over recent years, but never have. I remember first seeing the ship in one those thick Starlog photo guide books from the early 80's.

  6. Question is, will it really be a decent transfer from the original source

    1. It is a good question - but probably better addressed to the company releasing the disc. (VCI) Considering how the movie was made, I doubt there's much of an "original source" to work from.

  7. Dark Star was shot on 16mm 'reversal' stock. When Jack Harris bought the film some additional material was shot to beef-up the running time (the "Alien" scene, for instance was "new"), then the whole film was blown up to 35mm for theatrical distribution.

    To get maximum quality for release today, the best source would be the original "cut" 16mm film -- before the blowup, which adds another couple of generations, in addition to the additional lenses used in the blowup process, degrading the image further.

    The titles would have been composited on 35mm as part of the blowup package. Additional photographic effects were done at this stage also, so the transfer for those parts would probably have to be pulled from the final 35mm master. (Or they could be "recreated" -- the way that G.W. Lucas would do it.)

    It gets rather complicated, but those are the basics.