In the Beginning (Dark Star, 1974)
John Carpenter’s feature length debut was an odd comedy about four astronauts doing space work or something. They blow up planets as prep for colonization of other planets in that solar system. Aside from Carpenter, probably the most notable thing about Dark Star is that it was written by Dan O’Bannon, who went on to write Alien, as well as Return of the Living Dead and the Arnold version of Total Recall. O’Bannon also plays a character named Pinback in the film.
It is a very low budget film, even by the standards of Carpenter. He has always been a guy who can stretch a buck…but this film reeeeaaaally Stretches the dollar. The film feels like a student film, and the cast outside of Carpenter and O’Bannon have slight to no film resumes beyond Dark Star. The alien in the film looks like a beach ball. Because it is.
You can see hints of O’Bannon’s future work, such as having the female voiced computer called Mother or trying to stop a self destruct countdown. But to be honest, it is hard to see the talent at work. I mean, I know what both became. Carpenter has directed some of my favorites. The music, by Carpenter does not hint at all of his future classic soundtracks, such as Halloween or Escape From New York. Instead there is a bizarre country song that plays over the credits.
This is most definitely not the place to start with Carpenter, and is more of an odd footnote.