I've got nothing(gray screen, question mark folder) Please Help!

This problem is on my girlfriend’s computer, about the same as mine, PB G4 800mhz 768mb RAM, 10.4.x
I am a competent user and this one has me worried…
Problem
Last night she goes to the computer sends an IM checks her e mail, watch some tv, goes back to the computer to look something up on line and its frozen, I do not recall if the mouse was visible but I don’t think there was a beach ball. She asks me what to do I said just give it a few minutes maybe it will process through what ever it is and be back to normal. We both forget to take a look at it before bed.
This morning computer is still frozen/non-responsive and the fans are running... Shut down by holding down the power key. I try to re-start by pressing power key, screen lights up with gray background wait wait then the folder icon comes up with the question mark in it. This gets me worried.
What I have tried
I have tried to get it into target disc mode with my powerbook(computer B), I start up computer A holding down the T key and the screen goes to that moving firewire icon but the hard drive does not show up on my computer B.
I tried unplugging it, removing the battery and re setting the pram
I tried to run the hard ware test CD, but when I hold C to boot to the CD it spins up the disc and the little hardware test folder is in the middle of the screen but then it does not load any further. I had to shut down holding the power button. Computer would not eject CD so I had to start up and use unix eject cd command, this worked.
I tried target disc mode again.
I tried just a plain start up again.
I do not have the 10.4 CD at my house so I have not tried to start from that yet, but I can borrow one from grandparents this evening after work, but I am worried since it will not start from the hardware test CD that it will not start from the system CD.
I believe I have computer A backed up from either last week or the week before( I thought about doing it this weekend but did not get to it  ), she is not backed up daily as I am. Though she said there is quite a bit of important work from this past week.
I have no idea what to do next or what the source of the problem could be(software or hardware). I fear the worst, but hope that you can share an idea that will turn out for the best!
Please help me fix this computer, I can play with it some when I go home for lunch and then I need to get it fixed if possible this evening because she needs some important class work and grad school applications from it!
Jerome

So is the next step to try and re-format the drive and then use super duper to copy the back up over to that drive and then run disc utility and disc warrior on it? Which specs should I select for the re format, do they have to be the same as what is on my back up drive?
Yes, reformatting the drive is the next step. Use your Panther installer discs, choose Mac OS Extended format, and check the box to install OS 9 drivers, just in case. The "Verified" SMART status is somewhat less reliable than a "Failing" status would have been: "Failing" definitely means trouble was detected, but "Verified" could just mean nothing seemed to be wrong right at the moment when you happened to ask. So if there's any trouble reformatting the drive, replace it: you shouldn't entrust anything important to it. If all goes smoothly with the reformat, the drive probably really is OK.
What you can do with your backup depends on how you created it. If the backup is a bootable clone made with Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper, you can clone it back to the reformatted drive the same way you created it in the first place, then add the extra files that were created or modified after you made the backup. If you just Finder-copied the drive to another drive, the backup isn't bootable, and copying it back onto the reformatted drive won't make that one bootable either: OS X isn't Finder-copyable. In that case, I really shouldn't advise you on reconstructing the former contents of the drive from your backup — my only experience of backing up OS X disks is by cloning, which eliminates all the hassles of making sure user accounts, passwords, permissions, etc. are transferred correctly to the backup, and then transferred correctly back to the original disk in a restore. Nearly four years after my adoption of OS X, I confess I'm still far more mystified by many aspects of it than I ever was by the old-time Mac OS.
Message was edited by: eww

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