ANOTHER LOOK AT: The Last Starfighter (1984)

EDITOR’S NOTE: We originally reviewed this movie on October 9, 2019. However, the new release from Arrow Video made us sit back and watch it one more time, especially the great extra features that they always include.

The Last Starfighter is all about Alex Rogan (Lance Guest, Halloween 2), whose life is going nowhere but the trailer park where he takes care of everyone else and dreams of finding a better life with his girlfriend Maggie (Catherine Marie Stewart, The Apple). His only escape is a video game called Starfighter, a video game that takes him to the Frontier, where he battles Xur and the devilish Ko-Dan Armada.

Of course, the game is just there to recruit him for a galactic battle and they send the Music Man — err, Centauri — who tries to talk him into joining up with the war effort. Either way, I’m still so amazed by the fact that Robert Preston is in this movie.

Another great character is reptilian navigator Grig, who is played by one of my favorite character actors, Dan O’Herlihy. Between this movie, Conal Cochran in Halloween 3: Season of the Witch and the Old Man in RoboCop, every time I see O’Herlihy in a film, I can’t help but smile. Here, he does it all while completely covered in reptilian makeup.

It’s a very simple, but effective, space opera that fits well into the science fiction of 1984. Credit the great direction by Nick Castle, who you probably already know played Michael Myers in the original Halloween, before making this his second film after Tag: The Assassination Game.

The beauty of the Arrow re-release — beyond the gorgeous 4K rescan of the 35mm negative — are all the extras. Not just one, but three commentary tracks are on this (star Lance Guest and his son Jackson Guest; Mike White of The Projection Booth podcast; director Nick Castle and production designer Ron Cobb), along with interviews with Catherine Mary Stewart, composer Craig Safan, screenwriter Jonathan Betuel, special effects supervisor Kevin Pike, a breakdown on the landmark effects and even a featurette with game collector Estil Vance, who has actually made the game from the movie.

I have to say, the Castle and Cobb commentary is packed with info, from who is playing the aliens to how the effects came together to even plenty of fun asides about how they tried to tie the video game world and real movie world together. It’s like listening to two friends talk about a really great time in their life. Castle is super honest about the lack of time they had to film and things he feels could be better today. It’s exactly the kind of thing that film lovers get into the most and, as always, Arrow delivers the goods.

You can get this blu ray from Arrow, who were kind enough to send us a copy.

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