On this day in horror history, the cult classic space opera The Last Starfighter with Lance Guest was released back in 1984.
Directed by Nick Castle (The Shape from John Carpenter’s Halloween), it co-stars stars Robert Preston, Catherine Mary Stewart, Dan O’Herlihy, Norman Snow, and Kay E. Kuter. It was Preston’s final theatrical role.
The Last Starfighter was one of the first movies to use extensive CGI. Digital Productions created 27 minutes for the film, an enormous amount of CGI at the time. That said, the Gunstar and other spaceships were designed by Ron Cobb (Alien, Star Wars, Conan the Barbarian).
The $14M made about $21M at the box office. It sported a novelization by Alan Dean Foster, a video game, and an off-Broadway musical.
Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Stand By Me) filmed some scenes but they were ultimately cut from the final film.
It begins after finally achieving the high score on Starfighter, his favorite arcade game, everyday teenager Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) meets the game’s designer, Centauri (Robert Preston) — who reveals that he created Starfighter as a training ground for developing and recruiting actual pilots to help fight a war in space. Whisked away from the banality of his trailer park life to a distant alien planet, Alex struggles to use his video game-playing skills to pilot a real ship, with real lives at stake.
It sports a 74% on Rotten Tomatoes with this Critics Consensus: The plot is as barebones a space movie will allow, but The Last Starfighter captures an era and eager style of filmmaking well.