Blu-ray Review “Dark Star: Thermostellar Edition”

Starring: Brian Narelle, Cal Kuniholm, Dre Pahich, Dan O’Bannon
Director: John Carpenter
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: VCI Entertainment
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Run Time: 83 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

I remember the first time that I saw “Dark Star” was in the early 90’s when the box called out to me at the local mom and pop video store.  Since then I have always been a fan of this campy sci-fi that was before its time.  In fact it was released two years prior to “Star Wars” but never really found a large audience, must like all of Carpenter’s films outside of “Halloween”.  I still enjoy watching this film and after all these years, I still get some good laughs out of “Dark Star”.  VCI Entertainment is behind this “Thermostellar Edition” and for price the it is set at, it is a no-brainer for fans of sci-fi and Carpenter’s work.

Official Premise: 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 Thermosteller 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!

In this “Thermostellar Edition”, it is a real step up from the VHS copy that I used to watch but the 1080p transfer presented in 1.85:1 is far from perfect. But that is set flat out at the start of the film with Dan O’Bannon’s text prologue, in which he almost apologizes for the transfer state.  So overall it not perfect but still a far cry from terrible.  With the audio on this release their are two tracks, the first is an uncompressed LPCM 2.0 track and also a supped up LPCM 5.1 surround track. I actually enjoyed the 5.1 track quite a bit, especially with Carpenter’s score.

The special features are out of this world…get it? (sorry).  To start there is an audio Commentary by “Super Fan” Andrew Gilchrist, which is decent but not amazing. The star of this release though is the nearly two hour retrospective called “Let There Be Light: The Odyssey of “Dark Star””.  It includes some really great interviews with the cast but Carpenter declined to be a part of the documentary and is only available via archive audio.  Still it is a nice companion to the film. There is an interview with Sci-Fi Author Alan Dean Foster, who did the novelization. There is another interview with Brian Narelle who played Doolittle in the film.  There is a “3D Guide to the Dark Star Ship” which allows viewing of various locations on the ship. Lastly, there is trivia on the film.

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