Why John Carpenter’s Sci-Fi Movie Is One of the Best of the ’80s


Whereas John Charpentier is best known for being a master of horror, the acclaimed director has dabbled in other genres throughout his directing career. Carpenter tried his hand at a crime thriller with Assault on Compound 13 in 1976, then branched out into comedy and martial arts with Big problem in little China in 1986. However, between these two films, in 1984, Carpenter directed star mana lesser known sci-fi film starring Karen Allen (Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark) and Jeff Bridges (The great Lebowski). With huge aliens taking over the 1980s like AND the alien, aliens, Predator, enemy mine and the abyss, star man never really got a chance to compete and felt a little unfamiliar, alongside Carpenter’s other now-adored alien film, The thingwhich premiered only two weeks after HEY.


One of the main reasons for its reception and viewing under the radar was that, unlike many of those films listed above, star man was truly a romance movie, even though John Carpenter’s film was excellent, a slow romance couldn’t compete at the box office or with the masses against Stan Winston’s incredible practical alien effects, explosions and directors of foreground like Steven Spielberg and James Cameron. While many of these beloved ’80s films were nominated and won various Oscars in technical categories, star man was the only one to be nominated for his acting (and the only Carpenter film to be nominated). We all need a reminder of just how good John Carpenter’s sci-fi tale is and why it’s a top contender for not just the best sci-fi movies of the 80s, but the best of all the time.

A highly emotional story

Sure, giant spaceships and goop-covered aliens are great, but nothing really captivates an audience like an incredibly relatable and emotional story, especially if the game is perfect. In star man, Jenny Hayden (Karen Allen) spends her nights drinking wine, smoking and watching movies about her recently deceased husband. It is clear that she is lost and has given up on almost everything in life. When Star Man appears and takes the form of Jenny’s deceased husband, Scott (Bridges), his spirit is essentially shattered. She is forced to not only continue to mourn the loss of her most loved person in the world, but also to see him in front of her, asking for his help. Later in the film, it is revealed that Jenny and Scott had been trying to conceive for many years, but her body was unable to bear children. This in itself is an extremely sad and traumatic experience for people, and for Jenny to cling to the guilt that not only is her husband gone, but that she also has no human connection to him, shows her emotional toughness. during the movie. These types of heartbreaking stories are really starting to show up regularly in sci-fi movies, like Arrival and A silent place. In this aspect, star man was well ahead of its time.

Related: Best Sci-Fi Romance Movies, Ranked

Incredible performance

While Karen Allen was an emotional powerhouse in the film (and deserved a nomination), it was Jeff Bridges who actually received a Best Actor Oscar nomination. Bridges’ portrayal of Star Man was incredible, as he was a human actor, acting like an alien, trying to act like a human. In fact, Bridges studied ornithology and bird behavior to use as the basis for his role. His layered performance spanned the entire acting spectrum, forcing him to cast aside many natural human elements of emotion. To begin with, Star Man was cold, absurd and indifferent. As the film progressed and he learned more about his business and surroundings, he became closer to the human, but never fully grasped a man’s emotional construct. His emotionally absent and oblivious prose was an incredible balance to Allen’s emotionally wrenching words and moments. The two performances were perfect counterweights to each other, and although F. Murray Abraham won the Oscar that year for Amedee, his performance was not as polished and layered as Bridges’. It was also the only time an actor was nominated, when he played a non-humanoid alien.

Excellent special effects

Many other hard-hitting alien films of the 80s relied on huge budgets and groundbreaking practical effects for their movies. star man, on the other hand, relied more on digital and lighting effects. There were some cool hands-on moments, like when the alien first turned into a human by replicating Scott’s DNA from a strand of hair, but most of the awesome effects came from gorgeous changes. of light, as cinematographer Donald M. Morgan used six different cameramen. and the directors of photography to work in synchrony to find the best shots. While the starship and spaceship shots were done digitally, the film used its effects budget to deliver massive action-packed explosion scenes, including blowing up a tanker truck and having missiles fired by rockets. helicopters in the desert.

A memorable score

Unlike most John Carpenter movies, star man is one of the few films that Carpenter directed for which he did not write the score. Before star manCarpenter had marked each of his films, with the exception of The thing (Ennio Morricone). Using Carpenter’s style as an influence, star manThe score for was composed by Jack Nitzsche, who also composed the memorable scores for movies like Flight over a cuckoo’s nest, Cruiseand support me. A perfect blend of spatial synthesizer tones were used in more emotional moments, while the scenes where the government was chasing were almost rock. A few years ago, John Carpenter, his son Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies recorded a new version of star man main theme, which can be heard on Carpenter’s Anthology album.

Related: Has John Carpenter Become The True Master Of Horror?

A great mix of comedy

For those who have seen Big problem in little China, it’s no surprise that John Carpenter has some fantastic comedy chops in his directing style. Even before that, and before his 1992 Chevy Chase-led comedy Memoirs of an Invisible ManCarpenter put hilarious scenes in star man. We already know Bridges is a great comedic actor as well, and seeing him try to emulate the human race throughout the movie is awesome. He repeats human mannerisms, such as saying “Over to you!” and flip the bird over because it thinks it’s a greeting. He kisses strangers full on the mouth after seeing other people do it, and he even wonders why, as adults, we have to wait until we finish our meals to eat our desserts. The jokes land well, and they still hold up brilliantly.

A satisfying ending that still gives us hope

Not only the end of star man beautifully shot, but it’s a great conclusion to the story. As previously stated, Jenny and Scott never had the ability to conceive, and during the film, she and Star Man have an intimate night, where Star Man heals his body and impregnates him with a baby, which will not only contain Scott’s DNA, but will also grow up to know everything Star Man knows. Although Jenny wants to leave with Star Man, he tells her that she couldn’t survive on his planet, because he can’t survive on his. Star Man leaves Jenny with his latest alien technology, a sphere that can create miracles, and tells her that their son will know what to do with it. The film ends with Jenny healing with the prospect that a piece of Scott and Star Man is inside her, and that even though she has experienced the worst loss imaginable, her story is not over.


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