It isn't pleasant to watch a talented filmmaker like John Carpenter willfully distort his personality to fit a commercial (read Spielbergian) profile, and only the opening suspense-horror sequences of ths 1984 feature have the weight of real involvement. But there is a real element of pop culture poetry in the screenplay by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon: their tale of an extraterrestrial being who takes on the form of a young man killed in a sudden accident and then strikes up a relationship with his widow represents a surprisingly moving response to the problem of death in a postreligious age. The resurrected husband is allowed to finish his business on earth (declaring his love and fathering a child), and keeps his rendezvous at the appointed hour, ascending as spectacularly as you-know-who. Jeff Bridges, the eternal, unrecognized workman of American film, is deft and audacious in the title role; Karen Allen lends plausible, though transparent, support. With Charles Martin Smith and Richard Jaeckel.