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NEW "Dark Star" DVD coming!

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NEW "Dark Star" DVD coming!

Old 06-07-02, 07:09 PM
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NEW "Dark Star" DVD coming!

As some of you might know, I helped get Dan O'Bannon hooked up with MGM for "The Return of the Living Dead" DVD (and headed the internet campaign) and recently I've done the same regarding Dan's first film, "Dark Star" (directed by John Carpenter.)

I'm very happy to be the first to announce that a NEW DVD for "Dark Star" will be released. Here is the letter I received from the president of VCI Home Video (the company that owns "Dark Star".)

--------

"Dear Michael,
I wanted to let you know that I have spoken with Dan O'Bannon today and he confirmed he would be happy to help us on redoing the DARK STAR DVD. He was very busy but said he would call me on Monday to work out the details.

This is very exciting news and I don't mind if you want to be the first person in the world to announce on your website that we will be doing a new SPECIAL EDITION DVD, which will feature, at the least, a new digital anamorphic widescreen transfer - enhanced for 16x9 monitors. I'll keep you posted on more details as they are worked out.

I appreciate all your help in making this happen.

Best regards,
Robert A. Blair, President
vci entertainment"
-----------------
Old 06-07-02, 08:07 PM
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This is great news. I've been waiting for a SE of this movie to come out. As long as it has an anamorphic transfer I'll be happy.
Old 06-07-02, 09:24 PM
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Wonderful news, thank you Mr. evilbaby.

Now find me something I can blow up.
Old 06-07-02, 09:45 PM
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what can we expect from vci. they make 10$ dvds. id buy a re-release of this great film in a second but i dont really think it needs one.
Old 06-07-02, 10:35 PM
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Well, I'm willing to give VCI the benefit of the doubt on this issue.

Ya Hoo! Anamorphic! That's damn near good enough for me!
Old 06-07-02, 10:56 PM
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Nice work evilbaby! I'll be on the lookout for this one. I enjoy seeing these kind of early, 'unpolished' efforts by people like O'Bannon & Carpenter.
Old 06-08-02, 01:50 AM
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awesome news.


at any rate, they can't make the film look any worse. i'd hope for a better look and sound, but since they are interested in talking to dan, i pray a commentary and posbile other bonus material could be added.
Old 06-08-02, 02:03 AM
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evilbaby, you rule! Thanks for the fantastic news.
Old 06-08-02, 10:35 AM
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Originally posted by The Pro
what can we expect from vci. they make 10$ dvds.
Have you ever seen VCI's City of the Dead (aka Horror Hotel)? Gorgeous 16x9 transfer, commentary with Christopher Lee, over an hour of interviews...

VCI certainly does a lot of budget and public domain stuff, but they also tend to treat their films with a lot more respect than most other labels. Given the original film budget and condition of the elements for Dark Star, I certainly wouldn't expect miracles. But I do expect VCI to do a fantastic job and make it well worth upgrading. I'm sure they are going to put a bunch of extras on there too.
Old 06-08-02, 10:52 PM
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I've created a small web page dedicated to news on the DVD at;

http://members.tripod.com/~evilbaby/DarkStar.html

All news regarding the DVD will be posted there along with ways to contact the studio and thank 'em for a DVD release. Also included are a few links to other web sites about the film, etc.
Old 06-09-02, 04:19 AM
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Just have to throw in the words "seamless branching" - thanks
Old 06-09-02, 04:41 AM
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"Just have to throw in the words "seamless branching""

...ahh... the current disc already features "almost seamless branching" - which was done that way on purpose, and not because of ineptitude on the part of whoever supervised the disc's authoring ... it was a joke, see ... you're supposed to be amused ... after all, this was originally a just-over-one-hour bottom-budget student movie filmed on 16mm stock ...

...sheesh! you people talk about this movie as if it were another 2001...

(signed) One Who Is Quite Satisfied With The Current DVD Release Which Is Just Fine Thank You

. . . . . .

Last edited by Hendrik; 06-09-02 at 04:49 AM.
Old 07-12-02, 03:28 PM
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Some news for everyone

I received a letter for "the man" himself, John Carpenter, today.

While he has "great affection" for the movie and would "love to see a special edition", he will NOT work with Dan O'Bannon on the DVD in any way. Apparently after 20+ years, the bad blood between the two is still running deep.

Kinda sucks, I know but you can't force people to work with each other if they don't wanna.

I'm glad Mr. Carpenter took the time to contact me anyway. At least we know what to expect (or not to expect in this case) regarding the DVD. Still, O'Bannon is involved and 1 outta 2 ain't bad.
Old 07-12-02, 04:19 PM
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Regarding the Carpenter news...

...does anyone actually care if he isn't involved?

Why is there "bad blood" between them, anyway?
Old 07-12-02, 04:38 PM
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Well, although Carpenter is only the film's director, I would have liked to hear him talk about it on the DVD.
Old 07-12-02, 09:22 PM
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Will this VCI DVD have both versions like the original release?
Old 07-13-02, 11:06 AM
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Originally posted by Jepthah
Why is there "bad blood" between them, anyway?
i'd like to know that too
Old 07-13-02, 12:08 PM
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All I can say is, their falling out came not too long after "Dark Star" was released.
Old 07-14-02, 07:08 PM
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I have to agree with Carpenter's feelings on the matter — I wouldn't want to have anything to do with Dan O'Bannon either, whether it be on Dark Star or anything else. And I also have no great love for the man (various personal reasons).

While I feel it would terrific to have his input into the making of the film — O'Bannon was the writer and co-star — I would only welcome such input from him in a "supplementary materials" sort of way. It pains me to say this, but I feel he is the absolute worst person to have involved in the DVD's production, mainly because of his past viewpoints on Dark Star as a film, and the way he has tampered with the material.

Unless things have drastically changed over the years, O'Bannon has never really shown that he cares much for the film he helped create. Lest anyone forget, O'Bannon was the sole person responsible for releasing the dreadful "Special Edition" versions of Dark Star that circulated on VHS and LD in the late 80s/early 90s, which also caused much controversy. His "Special Edition" cut actually removed approx. 11m of footage from the movie (it was now 72m instead of 83m). Thankfully, an uncut widescreen version was also available as a Japanese import LD — the print and transfer weren't as good, but it was completely uncut. And of course there was the earlier VCI DVD, which thankfully presented the original cut in addition to O'Bannon's "preferrred version."

There are a few historical statements I'd like to reprint here that directly relate to O'Bannon's viewpoints towards Dark Star. I believe many of you may be interested to know a little more about the story, not to mention why I (and many others) feel less than thrilled with his direct involvement in the new VCI DVD's production... Please bear with me.

First off, as a prologue, I'd like to reprint the message appearing on the jacket of the Image laserdisc edition, which states:

"When Dark Star was originally released in theaters, certain scenes were hastily created in order to lenghten the film to commercially required running time. Carpenter and O'Bannon felt that these additions, deemed necessary by exhibitors, degraded the quality of the film. The worst of these scenes have been omutted from this LaserDisc version, bringing it nearer the filmmakers' original vision. The deleted scenes have been included at the end of the program for the edification of the viewer."
True, Dark Star originated as a USC student film project, and was picked up for release. In order to bring it up to release length, several new sequences were filmed and inserted into the movie (it originally ran ~68m, was released at ~83m, so that's ~15m of new footage).

Anyway, getting back to my story, most fans of Dark Star really wanted to have the complete full-length version on home video, because that's the version we all had seen and fell in love with. However, our only choice was the aforemention 72m re-edited cut, which many felt hurt the film. Thankfully, I was able to import a copy of the Japanese LD version, which was uncut and widescreen, an option unavailable to most people. In 1991, Image announced that they were working on a "Special Edition" supposedly-restored version of Dark Star for domestic LD release, and many of us got our hopes up — finally, a really good copy! When it was released in 1992, we discovered it really was an excellent copy... of the shorter, edited 72m version.

It was no consolation that the LD included the "deleted scenes" in a section at the end of the disc. This section begins with a text note declaring that "...although the scenes are interesting, they neither add nor detract from the original story." Worse, only ~9m of deleted scenes are here out of the ~11m O'Bannon removed. Missing completely from the movie and the "deleted scenes" section is the lengthy scene where the beachball alien causes the second malfunction (which also eliminates the need for having the alien even appear in the film at all, since its only connection from the plot is obliterated). The LD was a mockery of the film we loved, and it truly felt as if O'Bannon was just rubbing it in our faces.

Back at the time, I used to published and distribute my own laserdisc rag (newsletter), Pond Scum, which many of you may remember. Yes, silly name (long story), but regarded as having some of the best — and most truthful — laserdisc reviews out there. After the release of the Image disc, we decided to review and compare the domestic Dark Star release to that of the uncut Japanese import. I wrote up the import review, while our own Mad Man From Mars (web site) tackled the Image LD for our Issue #29. Everyone loved the reviews and felt they were dead on... our readers, industry folk, and even some of the people who worked on the actual disc. Everyone except for O'Bannon, that is. We received many letters complaining about the disc, as did Image Entertainment. Hmmm.. maybe he didn't like that we gave the disc our "Atrocity of the Month!" award.

Unfortunately, the magazine folded with issue #29 (thanks to my going through a divorce at the time), and I was never able to publish our next issue, the 40-page December 1992 Issue #30 spectacular. This issue contained some personal comments from Mr. O'Bannon himself, discussing the LD, responding to our review and our readers, and another response to Image to tell to anyone who complained about the edited LD version.

For the first time ever, I am sharing O'Bannon's comments as they appeared in our Letter's Column in Issue #30. Again, while this is purely for historical reasons, it may share some insight in O'Bannon's feelings towards Dark Star and... a few other things. (I still have the originals here somewhere...)

Roll 'em...

This first letter was O'Bannon's official response to anyone complaining about his laserdisc edition of Dark Star. It was given to Image Entertainment, and was scrawled on the back of an envelope (and was forwarded to me to publish in the magazine):

"To whom it may concern,

The Image laserdisc of Dark Star is as official as it can ever be. I personally supervised the transfer, and I also personally supervised the cassette version ("Special Edition") from several years ago. In the interim, I simply changed my opinion about the best way far Dark Star to go into posterity. As for John Carpenter's view — he doesn't give a ****."

Dan O'Bannon
June 15, 1992

Next up is O'Bannon's personal response to The Mad Man From Mars' review of Dark Star in Pond Scum #29, and also includes comments directed to other readers:


Dear MMFM (attn. JF and Mr. Endler),

When it comes to matters of creative judgment, there is no right or wrong, there is only personal taste.

I am flattered that you feel so passionately about poor old Dark Star. To tell you the truth, this version was made more for the gratification of John Carpenter and myself than for anyone else. It may grind your ass, but it was a distinct pleasure to see it, at last, without those meandering, lower-than-low production value scenes. I'd like to cut out more. Your opinion that the most important scenes were excised (while offering your own selection of scenes to cut) is little more than perverse. [Ed. Note: MMFM suggested that if something had to be cut, get rid of the bottle-playing scene over anything else.]

Speaking of asses: according to Aesop, a man and his son and their ass were making their way into town, when a bystander spoke up. "How stupid do you have to be," he inquired, "to walk when you has an ass?" So the boy got on the ass. A little farther down the road, Bystander #2 was so offended by what he saw that he, too, was moved to speech. "You spoiled whelp!" expostulated he, "how can you ride while your venerable father walks?" So they traded places. Yet farther on, Bystander #3 muttered loudly, "Heartless old bastard, making a child walk!" So they both got on the ass and went a little farther, where Bystander #4 pointed a trembling finger and intoned, "Outrageous! How dare you stress the spinal column of a helpless animal!" Ever responsive to public opinion, the man and his son slung the ass under a pole and staggered into town with it, where they encountered MMFM, who grabbed them by the shoulders, shook them vigorously, and screamed: "SHOCKING, HORRIFYING, UNGODLY EVIL!" Whereupon they all fell into the river.

In spite of your rancid, offensive tone, it's good to see you take an interest. Maybe if you and the "many bummed-out fans" raise enough of a stink, Image will be moved to issue another edition of the full (gack) length Dark Star. Mr. Endler (who manages a civilized Sprachgefuhl, perhaps because it occurs to him that the objects of his complaints may actually read his words) mentions an unanswered letter. Try a whole campaign...or a reader's poll.

You close your "review" by inciting your readers to assault me, while shouting, "WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?"

Always a pleasure to hear from the moviebuying public.

Dan O'Bannon
August 11, 1992
By the way, with regard to the supposed "assault," MMFM never suggested any such thing. In fact, he was making light of the situation because he was frustrated. His comment was similar to suggesting that you smack some sense into somebody, and is obviously not meant to be taken literally. Oh, never mind, here, just read it for yourself:

By the way, in case you're curious, all the scenes deemed as "padding" and placed into the supplementary section are as follows: The asteroid storm (ARGH!), the scene the food storage locker (cutting out a great joke and some important character development) and Doolittle's bottle-playing scene (fine by me). And again, the scene with the alien fiddling with the communication laser was completely eliminated from this disc.

Irritated fans may wish to write to Image Entertainment (if you haven't already done so) to complain about this horrendous pile that was to be the great Dark Star. I'm sure they've already received many scathing letters, and if they receive enough, then maybe (just maybe) they will repress the disc and show the film as originally intended by the film's CREATORS! We hope. In the meantime, if you happen to see Dan O'Bannon, grab him by the shoulders, shake his vigorously, and shout "WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?!"
That's what was said. I want to end this on one last quote, just to round O'Bannon out a bit and get a better understanding on how he feels towards his own creations. I'll take this opportunity to reprint his comments on Alien, as it appeared in the booklet contained within Fox's Special Collector's Edition laserdisc...

"Dear Viewer:

When I conceived of "ALIEN" back in 1976, it was my purpose to introduce a new demon into the public consciousness. I am no longer certain that this was a worthy goal; no matter, it is done. Perhaps it would be better now for that demon to die. But...he (he?) is here...imprisoned on the shiny silver of this laserdisc...for you to let out.

Dan O'Bannon"
I want to close this up by saying that O'Bannon has made other statements in the past towards his own films that are quite similar. And that's what scares me when I see he will be personally contributing to Dark Star once again. I'm afraid we'll have this gorgeous deluxe DVD edition of... some edited-down thing, however it happens to suit O'Bannon's fancy at the time. Here is a man who should be put up next to the likes of Lucas and Spielberg with their revisionist histories (they should have included him with the group in last week's South Park episode). If O'Bannon wants to show the original USC cut of Dark Star, then show that version. Don't partially cut down the theatrical release cut and pretend that's exactly how the original short was, because it's not. And however the film may be mangled this time around, I can only hope the theatrical cut is presented again as it was on the previous VCI release. And besides, who is the actual director, anyway? It's not O'Bannon...

Okay, thanks for letting me vent about this, and at the very least, I hope that some of the Dark Star video history I provided proved useful in some manner... or at least entertaining. But I urge everyone to politely ask VCI to that the theatrical version be presented intact and uncut on their upcoming disc. I would also like to see VCI obtain John Carpenter's cooperation in some manner, be it a separate audio commentary, a short interview, production materials, whatever. Carpenter has done this for many of his other films, and I feel an audio commentary on this one would be fascinating. If he doesn't want to deal with O'Bannon, I say fine... do whatever it takes to get him involved. (Maybe a disclaimer stating that Carpenter is providing his cooperation solely for the fanbase irregardless of O'Bannon's involvement...).

Again, I hope this proved entertaining for you all. Also, if anyone really wants to read either of the two Dark Star LD reviews, I'll be happy to reprint them here (they've gotta be shorter than what I just wrote... whew!).

Best wishes to all,

Jeff
Old 07-14-02, 11:49 PM
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Originally posted by krispow
I have to agree with Carpenter's feelings on the matter — I wouldn't want to have anything to do with Dan O'Bannon either, whether it be on Dark Star or anything else. And I also have no great love for the man (various personal reasons).

While I feel it would terrific to have his input into the making of the film — O'Bannon was the writer and co-star —


and editor, worked on special effects


I would only welcome such input from him in a "supplementary materials" sort of way. It pains me to say this, but I feel he is the absolute worst person to have involved in the DVD's production, mainly because of his past viewpoints on Dark Star as a film, and the way he has tampered with the material.

Unless things have drastically changed over the years, O'Bannon has never really shown that he cares much for the film he helped create.
Having spoken with Dan in the last few months, he's very fond of the film.

There are a few historical statements I'd like to reprint here that directly relate to O'Bannon's viewpoints towards Dark Star. I believe many of you may be interested to know a little more about the story, not to mention why I (and many others) feel less than thrilled with his direct involvement in the new VCI DVD's production... Please bear with me.

First off, as a prologue, I'd like to reprint the message appearing on the jacket of the Image laserdisc edition, which states:



True, Dark Star originated as a USC student film project, and was picked up for release. In order to bring it up to release length, several new sequences were filmed and inserted into the movie (it originally ran ~68m, was released at ~83m, so that's ~15m of new footage).

Anyway, getting back to my story, most fans of Dark Star really wanted to have the complete full-length version on home video, because that's the version we all had seen and fell in love with. However, our only choice was the aforemention 72m re-edited cut, which many felt hurt the film. Thankfully, I was able to import a copy of the Japanese LD version, which was uncut and widescreen, an option unavailable to most people. In 1991, Image announced that they were working on a "Special Edition" supposedly-restored version of Dark Star for domestic LD release, and many of us got our hopes up — finally, a really good copy! When it was released in 1992, we discovered it really was an excellent copy... of the shorter, edited 72m version.

It was no consolation that the LD included the "deleted scenes" in a section at the end of the disc. This section begins with a text note declaring that "...although the scenes are interesting, they neither add nor detract from the original story." Worse, only ~9m of deleted scenes are here out of the ~11m O'Bannon removed. Missing completely from the movie and the "deleted scenes" section is the lengthy scene where the beachball alien causes the second malfunction (which also eliminates the need for having the alien even appear in the film at all, since its only connection from the plot is obliterated). The LD was a mockery of the film we loved, and it truly felt as if O'Bannon was just rubbing it in our faces.
so Dan purposefully mocked fans?


Back at the time, I used to published and distribute my own laserdisc rag (newsletter), Pond Scum, which many of you may remember. Yes, silly name (long story), but regarded as having some of the best — and most truthful — laserdisc reviews out there. After the release of the Image disc, we decided to review and compare the domestic Dark Star release to that of the uncut Japanese import. I wrote up the import review, while our own Mad Man From Mars (web site) tackled the Image LD for our Issue #29. Everyone loved the reviews and felt they were dead on... our readers, industry folk, and even some of the people who worked on the actual disc. Everyone except for O'Bannon, that is. We received many letters complaining about the disc, as did Image Entertainment. Hmmm.. maybe he didn't like that we gave the disc our "Atrocity of the Month!" award.
I can't think of many artists who enjoy their work being attacked. Regardless of what any fan may think, they do not nor should have any say in the creative process of any movie. There are so many monday morning internet quarterbacks who always think they know better.

Unfortunately, the magazine folded with issue #29 (thanks to my going through a divorce at the time), and I was never able to publish our next issue, the 40-page December 1992 Issue #30 spectacular. This issue contained some personal comments from Mr. O'Bannon himself, discussing the LD, responding to our review and our readers, and another response to Image to tell to anyone who complained about the edited LD version.

For the first time ever, I am sharing O'Bannon's comments as they appeared in our Letter's Column in Issue #30. Again, while this is purely for historical reasons, it may share some insight in O'Bannon's feelings towards Dark Star and... a few other things. (I still have the originals here somewhere...)

Roll 'em...

This first letter was O'Bannon's official response to anyone complaining about his laserdisc edition of Dark Star. It was given to Image Entertainment, and was scrawled on the back of an envelope (and was forwarded to me to publish in the magazine):




Next up is O'Bannon's personal response to The Mad Man From Mars' review of Dark Star in Pond Scum #29, and also includes comments directed to other readers:




By the way, with regard to the supposed "assault," MMFM never suggested any such thing. In fact, he was making light of the situation because he was frustrated. His comment was similar to suggesting that you smack some sense into somebody, and is obviously not meant to be taken literally. Oh, never mind, here, just read it for yourself:



That's what was said. I want to end this on one last quote, just to round O'Bannon out a bit and get a better understanding on how he feels towards his own creations. I'll take this opportunity to reprint his comments on Alien, as it appeared in the booklet contained within Fox's Special Collector's Edition laserdisc...



I want to close this up by saying that O'Bannon has made other statements in the past towards his own films that are quite similar. And that's what scares me when I see he will be personally contributing to Dark Star once again. I'm afraid we'll have this gorgeous deluxe DVD edition of... some edited-down thing, however it happens to suit O'Bannon's fancy at the time. Here is a man who should be put up next to the likes of Lucas and Spielberg with their revisionist histories (they should have included him with the group in last week's South Park episode).
Now that's going a bit far yes? Beyond that, do you really feel that an artist cannot change his own work? That he/she must be forever chained to their past, no matter how bad they feel it is?

Seriously (and don't take this as an attack) but what right do you (or anyone else for that matter) have to put someone down for going back to their own creations and making them work better? Ok, you might not like it because you're in love with how it originally appeared but you're not the author are you? I mean, should car manufacturers cease making new models, improving on old designs simply because you loved the 1985 Ford short bed pick-up?


If O'Bannon wants to show the original USC cut of Dark Star, then show that version. Don't partially cut down the theatrical release cut and pretend that's exactly how the original short was, because it's not. And however the film may be mangled this time around, I can only hope the theatrical cut is presented again as it was on the previous VCI release. And besides, who is the actual director, anyway? It's not O'Bannon...
Well I agree, Carpenter should look past petty, decades old problems and get involved but if some ancient argument prevents him from doing so then perhaps he doesn't care enough?

Okay, thanks for letting me vent about this, and at the very least, I hope that some of the Dark Star video history I provided proved useful in some manner... or at least entertaining. But I urge everyone to politely ask VCI to that the theatrical version be presented intact and uncut on their upcoming disc. I would also like to see VCI obtain John Carpenter's cooperation in some manner, be it a separate audio commentary, a short interview, production materials, whatever. Carpenter has done this for many of his other films, and I feel an audio commentary on this one would be fascinating. If he doesn't want to deal with O'Bannon, I say fine... do whatever it takes to get him involved. (Maybe a disclaimer stating that Carpenter is providing his cooperation solely for the fanbase irregardless of O'Bannon's involvement...).

Again, I hope this proved entertaining for you all. Also, if anyone really wants to read either of the two Dark Star LD reviews, I'll be happy to reprint them here (they've gotta be shorter than what I just wrote... whew!).

Best wishes to all,

Jeff
Well, having gotten to know Dan over the past 10 or so months, I've found him to be a patient, intelligent and kind person with a wit you don't find too often in writers these days.

I daresay Dan's involvement with "Dark Star" has been more in depth than Carpenter's, both when it was made and in the years since. I don't believe John has been personally involved with *any* home video release of the film whereas Dan has, so I ask you, who seems to love the film more?

I heartily agree John *should* do something for the DVD and I have written back to him saying he could participate on his own, no contact with Dan at all. However, I just don't see it happening.

Besides, Dan knows something about being a director himself you know.

O'Bannon is a caustic individual and you should take what he says in that manner. It seems as if you took offence at his writings when you really shouldn't have and I'm a bit confused....were you using his letters as evidence as to why you "wouldn't blame" Carpenter for not wanting to speak to him? or are there other "personal reasons" for this?

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this in the thread yet but just in case.....

I did ask Dan about Carpenter, their "falling out", etc.

While none of what he said do I consider "badmouthing" or "insulting", he did feel that John broke away from him as a creative partner only *after* Carpenter found success and apparently, John has done this on other occasions to other individuals.

Having said that, Dan told me that he bears *NO* ill feelings towards John and would welcome the opportunity to speak with him again.

Now to me this says Dan has let the past fade away but Carpenter still has bitter feelings. Let's face it, holding a grudge for 20+ years is pretty damn sad.

Call me naive but one of my intentions in ramping up a new DVD for "Dark Star" was hoping I could bring Dan and John back together again. Sure looks like I failed in that regard eh?

Regardless of all this, both men are hugely talented people whom I respect a great deal but I think Mr. Carpenter should just let things go.

Thanks for your post though, it was an interesting read.
Old 07-15-02, 06:18 AM
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Michael,

Just as I am a bit defensive in discussing this issue, so too are you in a different way. The world would be a fairly dull place if everyone thought the exact same way, don't you think?

In any event, a few quick clarifications, statements, questions, and all that...

You say that Dan is very fond of Dark Star as a film, yet you imply that he has every right to go back and change the film as he pleases. He should not be bound by the past, but should change his films to better fit his current feelings, or world politics, or whatever. Well, if he is so fond of it as you say, then why would he want to go back and make those changes? And saying in the past that he wished he could have cut out more of the film? Sure, O'Bannon was responsible for various parts of the film's production — co-writer, actor, editor, production design, and spfx (1 of the 5 spfx guys); but so was Carpenter — who was the actual director, co-writer, producer, and composer of the score. However, the film was made through the cooperation of both of these great men, therefore if any changes were to be made, then they should be done in cooperation with one another.

But O'Bannon's official take at the time (10+ years ago) — his own OFFICIAL response — was that Carpenter didn't give a s**t, therefore he could do as he saw fit. Again, that was the "official" statement he made back in 1992. This was given in writing to Image Entertainment (again, I have the original note), who released his edited LD. But there were also other remarks made in private to the folks at Image and elsewhere regarding the fans — remarks which I do not feel are appropriate to discuss or reprint, suffice it to say that they were quite insulting. He really was not a pleasant person to deal with at that period of time, and alienated most people. Maybe he was jaded at the time, or had some truly horrible experiences, I really couldn't say — but just the same, much of what he himself said was uncalled for. Ones original actions and statements simply will not vanish into thin air simply because you wish them to.

And no, I personally do not feel that any "creative personnel" should just be able to go back any time they please and make changes to their works, especially those that have become embedded somehow into the public consciousness, such as films. And I am extremely wary of changes made to film by those who are not the actual director. After Orson Welles died, should Robert Wise have been allowed to go back and completely re-edit Citizen Kane just because he suddenly felt like doing it? No. Or let's use North by Northwest screenwriter Ernest Lehman as an example — if he didn't like the final version of the movie, should he have been allowed to go back in and make his own re-edit of the film? I think not. Or should someone take Ed Wood's films and re-edit them in an attempt to make them "flow better"? Interesting idea, maybe, but... no. Let's take a different perspective — should the person who supplied DaVinci with his canvas or paints be allowed to repaint or otherwise change the Mona Lisa, because it was "their" paints he was using? Or how about "David" — should we let someone go in and rechisle a few things? Ack! But that's just how "I" feel

However, when it comes to the actual director of a film, then I do believe they should be allowed some leeway, since in this case it IS their film. How many of us are thankful to have restored director's cuts such as The Abyss, 1776, The Alamo, Legend and countless others. But this new trend in creating "revisionist histories" is something I think is completely uncalled for and distateful in the extreme, and something I hoped can be nipped in the bud before it gets any further out of control. This is where Lucas and Spielberg come into play. If Lucas wants to mutilate the original Star Wars by releasing an updated "Special Edition" version, so be it. However, the original versions of these films should always be made available and co-exist side by side with the updated work. In the case of Lucas, he wants to pretend that the original versions never existed, that somehow they were "not right" when he made them. That certainly wasn't the case with Star Wars when it was first released — he liked it just fine. But he's already reworked Star Wars and is about to re-work and revise it once again. At what point will it all end — when we suddenly have an all CGI version of the film, where not one frame remains that came from the original? These revisionist versions are not the same movie most of us grew up with or experienced. Since common sense isn't working, I'm almost hoping that some legislature will be passed that will protect such films — or any other items deemed "national treasures" or film history, whatever — from being repeatedly tampered with, diluted, and destroyed by creators gone amok. If you feel otherwise, then that is your choice. But just think about this — if you one day discover a film you love has been drastically changed, with the original version "retired," will you just sit back and go "that's nice" or will you be upset that the original work was not preserved and/or presented?

So yes, I do feel that an artist should stand by their own works. After all, for better or worse, that's what they created and released onto the world. But times do change. If they feel they must tamper or otherwise update their movies, they should still allow the original work to peacefully co-exist beside the newer one. (And that's all I'll say on this issue — this is something that has been discussed for years and is way too big to get into here in any more detail).

And contrary to what you state, I am hardly just some internet jockey who thinks he knows better. Instead, I was a fixture in the laserdisc industry for many years, having wrote, edited and published my own magazine/newsletter. My staff of writers gave out unbiased opinions with regard to the film, transfer and overall laserdisc content ("unbiased" as in we would not bow to any studio pressure regard content). We also published news, articles, interviews, etc. Yes, the magazine had a silly name (a very long tale I have no wish to get into right now), but we earned the trust of the studios and the readers, and became one of the most respected laserdisc publications at the time with worldwide newstand distribution. Our readership not only consisted of the average home theatre enthusiast, but of the studios and the actual creative folk themselves. I knew most of the people involved with laserdisc production at the time, and saw for myself many things that occurred behind-the-scenes. I also worked in the film & video industry for over 20 years in various professional capacities, my wife is an actress, and I have numerous friends in the industry. You seemed to be implying that I know nothing about that which I am talking about, therefore I am simply providing you with some insight into my qualifications and knowledge of LDs, LD production, film production, etc. I'm not making this up or trying to "pump myself up" in any manner — I have no reason to — I am simply providing to you the facts as they are. (But if I sound proud, I am... it's a pleasant feeling to set out with a huge goal and actually manage to accomplish it.)

True, today anyone with a web account can open their own site and call themselves a reviewer. But things were a completely different beast back then, especially if you were publishing your own mag. We had to seriously prove ourselves to the studios in order to receive full authorization, acknowledgement and access. We were, in fact, one of the five top LD reviewers authorized by all the studios to officially review LD product (Roger Ebert and the LD Newsletter were two others I know of). Again, these are facts, not hot air.

Getting back to the matter at hand, you keep implying that we (or I) purposely went after O'Bannon and vehemously attacked him. I'm not taking any offense by what you said, because you don't personally know what occurred, but the repeated accusations are simply untrue — we are not monsters, nor irresponsible reviewers, and we certainly did not personally attack or threaten him. What would be the point in doing so? There is nothing to be gained by being purposely malicious. We reviewed the Image LD the exact same way we reviewed the hundreds of other LD titles — we did our research, truthfully and respectfully evaluated the product, and wrote the review. We occasionally used some levity should the situation be warranted, and yes, the writers were free to reflect upon the films, discs and transfers personally. After all, that's what professional reviewers do. But we did not purposely go out of our way to attack O'Bannon — the reviewer gave the disc very high ratings with regard to overall quality (it was a gorgeous print and tranmsfer), but did voice his opinion when he discovered the film had been cut We (or at least my team) certainly did not "demand" to have creative control over any part of a film, however we would freely suggest areas of improvement with regard to the transfers or extras content. That what we were there for, afterall, and Michael, that's exactly what the studios wanted to hear (or at least all the legitimate major ones did). They wanted honest feedback regarding their product so they could judge how they were doing, how their products were being seen, etc., so they could make improvements and better their product. Certainly they wanted good reviews, but if a product was bad, then they expected you to say so. They did not want reviewers whose intention was to suck up to them, telling them everthing was fantastic (without actually reviewing the product), in the hopes of getting freebies— they wanted reviewers who would tell it as it was.

As for the creative personnel or artists, obviously nobody wants to hear that some people are not enjoying their work. But that's part of the business at hand and life in general. You are releasing products being seen by millions of people, and people are certainly going to have their own individually opinions about it. As well they should. It would get dreadfully dull very quickly if everybody loved anything and everything put in front of them. However, if an artist only wants to hear the positive and not the negative, then they can should simply just choose to ignore it all. But without constructive criticism, how does anyone expect to go beyond where they are, to grow or learn new things?

In any event, I hope that explains some of my statements. True, O'Bannon is a very caustic individual, and yes I did take offense to his writings because they were mainly directed torwards me, my staff and my readers (not to mention his disregard to all viewers of the original film he sent courtesy of Image). And again, there were other personal comments I will politely refrain from discussing. These were meant to have been published a decade earlier, but that didn't occur, and now was an appropriate time to do so since the situations seem quite similar. And from my standpoint (and from others), I am seeing the distinct possibility of history repeating itself with Dark Star — the pretense that the theatrical version shouldn't be seen, and O'Bannon "SE" cut the only one available. I felt his letters would provide readers with some historical insight into the man and his thinking processes, his attitudes towards the film and its viewers in 1991/1992, and why I felt this might adversely affect the outcome of the new DVD. Please forgive me if that's why I sound so surprised to hear of his love and fondness for the film these days — I'm just thinking of the last time he helped produce a version of Dark Star for home video, which caused an enormous amount of controversy and did not please most viewers. But I sincerely hope that time has changed his viewpoints and he can look at the film objectively once more.

If O'Bannon is again going to foist the edited cut upon us, then that's his choice, but it will be an instant "no sale" for me — unless VCI once again prevails and include the original theatrical version, or if the DVD has some amazingly-good extras. But what I am holding out hope for is for O'Bannon to somehow provide the original 68m USC short film version (which is not the same as his "SE" cut) + the theatrical version — now THAT would be something to see.

On a final note, Michael, I do not think you as being naive for trying to get O'Bannon and Carpenter back together on this disc, or even for attempting to get a restored version of Dark Star released on DVD. In fact, I think it a rather valient challenge and deed, and don't consider that to be a failure. However, where you are a bit naive — and this is certainly not intended to be an insult — was in some of your statements about our reviews or the LD industry at the time, or with the "attack" statements. You really had no way or knowing otherwise, since you weren't involved with this directly, but I hope I explained things so they make some sort of sense. In any event, please don't give up on your crusade with the DVD — there is still a great deal of good you could accomplish. Since you are now armed with all this information, maybe you could help steer VCI towards producing an even better Special Edition, one that pleases everybody and avoids the pitfalls of the previous DVD or LD versions. And maybe, just maybe, you can somehow rally for Carpenter's support of the project.

In any event, thanks for the good discussion... it was most enjoyable. But if you'll forgive me, I'm going to turn in (just realized it's almost 4:30am... yikes!).

Best of luck!

Jeff
Old 07-15-02, 08:29 AM
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Awesome news. This disc needs a re-release!
Old 07-15-02, 08:42 AM
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I think I will be sticking with the initial release. It has both cuts of the film, and is about 8 or 9 bucks
and maybe someday if 16x9 tvs are affordable I will worry about the anamorphic version.
Old 07-15-02, 10:20 AM
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Argh! Long post overload!
Old 07-15-02, 11:48 AM
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fingers... hurt...
never...
typing...
long stuff...
again...


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