(1984)4Michael HastingsHorror auteur John Carpenter set aside the casual thrills and copious bloodletting of his previous efforts to tell this well-observed tale of a peace-mongering alien who decides to inhabit the body of a woman's recently deceased true love. The result is akin to E.T. for grown-ups, with Karen Allen and Jeff Bridges chronicling the couple's hesitant friendship as they embark on a road trip to return the alien to his people. The reliable Bridges earned an Oscar nomination for his sedate, understated performance: he's like a mime with a photographic memory. But Starman ultimately belongs to Allen, who treats the character of Jenny Hayden as if she were lying on a therapist's couch, working through her ex-husband's death. She lends the film a depth and permanence that place it above the standard humanist sci-fi fare. The role dovetails well with her strong work in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Shoot the Moon (1982): all were parts that required her to be sexy, brooding, and tough all at once, even if she was relegated to one-dimensional supporting roles for much of her subsequent career.