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by Mark Burger

DVD Pick of the week: Dark Star (VCI Entertainment)

John Carpenter made his directorial debut with this laidback, low-budget 1974 sci-fi send-up, newly reissued in what’s being billed as the 36’½ th anniversary “Hyper-Drive” special edition ($19.99 retail).

Taking its cue from such sci-fi classics as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Silent Running, with a generous dose of absurdist humor sprinkled throughout, the film follows the endless journey of the title spaceship, whose assignment is to blow up rogue planets with literal “smart bombs” (that actually talk and think!).

The ship’s crew consists of Brian Narelle, Dre Pahich, Cal Kuniholm and editor/co-writer Dan O’Bannon, a motley bunch of bored goofballs who’d rather be doing just about anything other than what they’re doing.

Although very much the work of up-and-coming filmmakers, Dark Star possesses a likably quirky attitude that made it a midnight-movie favorite well into the ’80s, fueled by Carpenter’s subsequent success with Halloween and O’Bannon’s with Alien.

Special features include a retrospective documentary that runs longer than film, and much more for all of those diehard Dark Star devotees out there. You know who you are.

Rated G.

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