One of Carpenter's first films. This is about as no-budget indie as it gets, but that plays to the film's favor. The film takes up 2001's motif of space being big, cold, empty and quiet and expands upon that to point out that the boredom of space, if it doesn't drive you insane, will make you hate everyone you're trapped with in your cramped ship, which they do. (and where they have been getting more pot on their journey is a fair point of curiosity) All messages take years to go back and forth, their captain is dead--or rather, frozen in the moment just before death, so they can ask him questions when they need to, but he just wants to know how the Mets are doing--and all their toilet paper blew up long ago. There's also the matter of their sentient bombs, a example of "why would you give THAT artificial intelligence?" and oh yes, an alien on board who is basically a beachball with feet. And I LOVE that it's just obviously a beachball with feet, Somehow they make you believe it's alive even more than if they';d actually gone to the trouble of a special effect.
In fact, if you watch my favorite sequence, with screenwriter Dan O'Bannon(playing the hapless and lonely Pinback, without whom I do think this film might be...far less watchable, because the other performances aren't so great; but every Pinback scene is gold) chasing said alien around, not only will you basically be watching a live-action Looney Tune but you will see, in comedic form, the seeds of what would become O'Bannon's most famous creation, ALIEN, later on.
"Eternity with Beelzebub, and all his hellish instruments of death, will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me and this pencil." - E. Blackadder, 1791 Questionable
words & pictures from John Linton Roberson SUPPORT MY SINFUL WORK AT PATREON!