Dark Star is a 1974 American science fiction comedy film directed and produced by John Carpenter and co-written with Dan O'Bannon. It follows the crew of the deteriorating starship Dark Star, twenty years into their mission to destroy unstable planets that might threaten future colonization of other planets.
Beginning as a University of Southern California student film produced from 1970 to 1972, the film was gradually expanded to feature film length by 1974, when it appeared at Filmex before receiving a limited theatrical release in 1975. Its final budget is estimated at $60,000. While initially unsuccessful with audiences, it was relatively well received by critics and continued to be shown in theaters as late as 1980. The home video revolution of the early 1980s helped the film achieve "cult classic" status, and O'Bannon collaborated with home video distributor VCI in the production of versions on VHS, LaserDisc, and DVD.
The feature directorial debut for Carpenter, and the feature debut for O'Bannon, Dark Star was also produced and scored by Carpenter, while O'Bannon also served as editor, production designer, and visual effects supervisor and appeared as Sergeant Pinback.