Diehard horror fans are familiar with the name Nick Castle. Not only did he portray Michael Myers (or The Shape) in the original Halloween, but he famously came back for the 2018 sequel to reunite with Jamie Lee Curtis and John Carpenter. What’s even more interesting about his career is that he actually was a successful director, often specializing in comedies. Dennis the Menace was a particular favorite of my childhood, but he also directed other well known films such as Major Payne and Mr. Wrong. Genre fans are often known for being passionate about nostalgia and Arrow Video continues to fulfill that passion with their new release of Castle’s cult favorite THE LAST STARFIGHTER.
Alex Rogan (Lance Guest, Halloween 2) is the prime example of a young man seeking escapism. His reality includes rejected college applications and feels like his life is going nowhere while living in a trailer park with his mother and younger brother. He plays the arcade game “The Last Starfighter,” which draws the attention of everyone in the trailer park complex. Quickly into the film, he owns the high score. The game’s creator, Centauri, arrives and promises a prize for winning the game. Alex learns that the game is actually a test to participate in a battle between two factions, a real life war that was emulated in the arcade game.
THE LAST STARFIGHTER utilizes adolescent wish fulfillment and brings it to the screen before there were hundreds to choose from like there is now. Gamers were able to live through Alex as his favorite game became a reality, even if it existed in a fictional film. Castle directs a film that’s meant to be fun and our own escapism just like Alex has with the game. Children of the eighties got to feel jaw dropping moments that are hard to capture now with CGI advancement being used left and right.
Arrow Video has provided a definitive release packed with special features, both old and new. One unique feature which STARFIGHTER fans will love is “Greetings Starfighter! Inside the Arcade Game.” Here, we have Estil Vance who is an arcade game collector who actually reconstructed the game from the movie. He lets us in on not only the process, but footage of his game that was expanded for 20-25 minutes of gameplay. “Incredible Odds: Writing THE LAST STARFIGHTER” interviews screenwriter Jonathan Betuel who delves into the difficulty of making sure this was not referred to as another STAR WARS knockoff as there were many at the time. He goes into detail how he went for a less is more approach. Guest recorded a new commentary with his son, Jackson which is included along with another newly recorded track with Mike White from The Projection Booth podcast. Other new interviews include actress Catherine Mary Stewart, composer Craig Safan, special effects supervisor Kevin Pike, and science fiction author Greg Bear. First pressings include a rather thick booklet that includes writing from Bear and Amanda Reyes on the blue collar aspect of superheroes. A double sided fold out poster is included with two different pieces of artwork.
THE LAST STARFIGHTER succeeds by giving us an underdog who become an unlikely superhero in another galaxy, a Star-Lord of this universe.