Comparison between the Director's Cut and the extended theatrical version (both included on the British Blu-ray by Fabulous Films)
John Carpenter's debut work Dark Star is a classic low-budget flick, which was directed with a lot of passion and persistence and has thus earned its cult status. For years, the weird science fiction story by Dan O'Bannon and Carpenter was painstakingly created as a student project, and when producer Jack H. Harris acquired the rights, he ordered re-shoots to get to the usual feature length. This "extended theatrical version" was also released in Germany and in cinemas around the world. Occasionally, it was also called "Director's Cut", but this is misleading in view of the history mentioned above and the name of the theatrical version is therefore more appropriate.
We have already presented the background in more detail in the report on the shorter version featured on the Australian DVD. The almost 10-minutes-long block that is missing there is also without question the well-known main part of the material, which was only added later for the theatrical release. However, the Blu-ray in Great Britain, which was released in 2012, has a short version called "Director's Cut" on board, which is a bit shorter and lacks almost 12 minutes of material.
It can be stated immediately that this version was shortened from the HD master of the (extended) theatrical version resp. only represents a reconstruction. It is plausible, however, that the film here is closer to Carpenter's original version. The additional changes are basically all related to the long scene block, so they also act as subsequent additions to the plot. Therefore, it's obvious that they didn't belong to the film at the beginning and that they have been removed now. Moreover, in Carpenter's original version there is often talk about a 68-minutes running time, which would be a little bit shorter, but it's closer to it.
14:04 / 14:04-23:21
In contrast to the Australian DVD, the dancing crew and the distant view of the asteroid storm could still be seen. Then, however, it is missing how the computer turns off the music and points out the seriousness of the situation. The crew is shocked and prepares for the collision.
After the force field is switched on, the Dark Star flies through the asteroid storm. A malfunction activates the bomb bay systems. In the process, bomb #20 goes out, discusses with the computer, which tells the bomb that it has malfunctioned, and goes back in again shortly after. Afterwards, they move away from the asteroid storm and the force field goes off. After the computer has reported the malfunction to the crew, they leave the Command Bridge.
Pinback tells us that during the last asteroid storm, the sleeping quarters exploded. So they now go down to the storage room to recover from the ordeal. There, they pass the time smoking (Boiler and Pinback), playing cards (Doolittle), fooling around with jokes (Pinback) or playing the so-called "5-Finger Fillet" (Boiler). Doolittle is so scared and annoyed by Pinback's rubber chicken that he throws down the cards and leaves.
In another room, Doolittle first hits the attached bottles for testing, fills a few of them with some water, takes a wooden hammer and hits them again slightly. Then he starts to play on his self-made instrument, a percussion instrument that can be operated with keys. While the music is being played, he makes a cut to the relaxing pinback and boiler, which trims his beard. Afterwards, there is a view into space and again Doolittle is playing music. After he has stopped playing, he goes up to Talby.
556,7 sec (= 9:17 min)
31:17 / 40:34-41:11
After Pinback was pulled up, you can see the alien wandering through the corridor here in further shots and finally as it operates the laser. How the control lamps light up and call Talby's attention is again included in the Director's Cut.
31:35 / 41:29-42:37
After a further shot of the control lamps, some outdoor shots are missing. As in the long cut at the beginning, the bomb deck systems are activated again and the on-board computer points this out. Again, there is a little discussion between the onboard computer and the bomb deck system, the latter gives way only reluctantly and then retracts.
67,5 sec (= 1:08 min)
46:57 / 57:59-58:44
Following the various video messages, there is no more ride through the ship, during which the computer voice points out the problems caused by the failed laser and the previously cut bomb incident.
52:23 / 64:09-64:12
Before the exterior shot, a short circuit occurs in the control room.