Tuesday, August 30, 2011

UFO Italian Movie Poster

back in the early days of this blog, I wrote about the 'feature film" compilations made up of episodes from Gerry Anderson's UFO television series, and posted some art from a couple of International movie posters. Well, here's another one...

New Space: 1970 Poll - 'Bots!

Time for another Space: 1970 Reader's Poll, which you'll find over at the top of the right-hand sidebar. This one fits right in with the graphic I've been using for the feature, because it's all about 70s sci-fi retrobotics - in particular: "Which 70s sci-fi robot and/or droid was YOUR favorite?"  I'm limiting this to live action feature films and  U.S. TV shows, but if you want to write-in Doctor Who's K-9 or some other android or robot I missed, feel free to do so here in the comments.

By the way, if you read this blog through its RSS feed, you should know that the Poll is only available here on the actual site. Have fun!

D'OH! I can't believe I forgot The Delos Gunslinger from Westworld! (And the Fembots, too.) Dammit....

Monday, August 29, 2011

STAR WARS Atari Arcade Game (1983) Flyer

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"Gold Leader, this is Red 5. I'm going in!" In the Summer of 1983, I fed probably $300 in change into this Atari arcade game (the upright model) at a Waterville, Maine pizza parlor. That was the Summer after my last year of High School, and I was working at a paper mill to make money for Art School. In the evenings, I would meet up with a few of my friends for pizza and Star Wars. If I recall correctly, this same restaurant also had the Astron Belt laserdisc game (with the Message from Space movie footage) for a while, but that one was infuriatingly difficult to play.  

Star Wars, on the other hand, was so damned much fun, with its colorful vector graphics, John Williams themes and soundbites from the movie. If I recall correctly, we all got pretty good at it (the owner must have had it set on "easy" mode!), and spent hours at that joint eating mediocre pie and pumping quarters into the game. Considering how few other customers I can recall ever seeing in there, I suspect we were keeping the place in business all by ourselves....

Saturday, August 27, 2011

THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN (1976-77) Charlton Comics Cover Gallery

Joe Staton
Neal Adams
Hector Castellon
Jack Sparling
Jack Sparling
Jack Sparling
Fred Himes/Pat Boyette
Fred Himes/Pat Boyette
Fred Himes/Pat Boyette
I'm told that Colonel Steve Austin, the Bionic Man, has returned to comic books with a new series from Dynamite Comics, so I figured this was a good time to head over once again to Charlton Comics, and take a look at their color comic book version of Universal's The Six Million Dollar Man television series. They also simultaneously published a magazine-sized black & white series (as they did with Space: 1999), but this time out we're focusing solely on the color book.

Charlton Comics got spotty distribution in my area, so I'm pretty sure the only one of these issues I ever bought off the newsstand was Issue #4, which caught my eye because I also had the Six Million Dollar Man model kit of Austin wrestling with an alligator (I also had the one were he's kicking in a door with both feet - I should try and find pix of those; they were great little diorama kits!).

My pal (and collaborator) Joe Staton drew the first issue, and as he told Comic Book Artist magazine, in those days pre-Internet & home video, visual reference for licensed comics was sometimes hard to come by:

"We had moved upstate by the time I was working on Six Million Dollar Man...  back in the days when dinosaurs drew comic books, we had one TV station, didn't get the show, we didn't have any photos, so we came into town to the Ramada Inn in Kingston, got a room, because somebody told us the Ramada Inn got the station it was on. We didn't have a tripod, so we piled up some books under [my wife] Hilarie's camera in front of the TV in the hotel room, trying to shoot photos off the television! That was most of the reference I had for the book.

There was always a lot of trouble to get the reference. For
Six Million Dollar Man, we called up an Air Force airbase, the same airbase the Six Million Dollar Man crashes on in the pilot episode, and they sent me this whole official pile of photos on airbases. If I were a Russian spy... If anybody needs good photos of secret defense installations, call up and say you're doing a comic book and the Air Force is very accommodating!"

Friday, August 26, 2011

Behind-The-Scenes Pix #6: ALIEN

That's movie-making for you: hurry up and wait. Actor Bolaji Badejo, as the titular extraterrestrial terror, takes a break between takes on the set of Ridley Scott's Alien at Shepperton Studios in England, probably in late '78. I love this pic because it shows how friggin' scary-cool H.R. Giger's design was; especially that skull face which was obscured in the film by the smooth, black "carapace" that is missing in this photo.

Have a great weekend, Star Kids!

STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (1979) Alternate Poster Art

This is another art treasure that I stumbled across recently. Apparently, this is an alternate poster image created for Paramount's Star Trek - The Motion Picture campaign, painted by the incredible Bob Peak. It's a very striking composition, although probably too low key and sedate for what the studio was trying to sell to audiences as an epic science fiction adventure - and I do like the art they went with for the one-sheet better.

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I never saw this painting before coming upon it online a short while ago. Does anyone know if this was used on any 1979-vintage Trek merchandise or in promoting the film in non-U.S. markets?


In 1978, Walt Disney Productions re-released their G-rated space kids-on-the-run thriller, Escape To Witch Mountain on a double bill with its sequel, Return From Witch Mountain. Here's a 30-second TV commercial for that telekinetic double feature. Obviously, these movies were childhood favorites, in large part because I saw them at the drive-in with my family. Even then, though, I wished that we'd seen a lot more of their flying saucer and learned more about their people.

For the record, I actually enjoyed the 2009 update - I thought the kids were quite good, Dwayne Johnson was likable enough, and I have a serious crush on Carla Gugino - but I don't believe I ever saw any of the various other remakes and spin-offs done for television in the 80s & 90s. There was a short-lived TV series, too, right? Or am I misremembering? (I must be - I can't find one on the IMDb....)

Thursday, August 25, 2011


In the spring of 1977, NBC aired a made-for-television science fiction movie about a mysterious man who was discovered washed up on a California beach after a storm. He nearly dies, but a beautiful marine biologist is able to save his life when she realizes that he breathes underwater. No one - not even the aquatic stranger himself - knows where he comes from; the best guess the government super computers can make is that he might be the last survivor of the sunken continent of Atlantis.

That telefilm, Man From Atlantis, buoyed by the charismatic Patrick Duffy (pre-DALLAS) as the amnesiac sub-mariner, was a ratings hit, and the network commissioned three additional 2-hour movies, which aired throughout that Summer, followed by a weekly, hour-long series in the Fall. Now, Warner Archive has remastered and packaged those first four installments as "The Complete TV Movies Collection," and fans of the series should be very pleased with the result.

In the first, Man From Atlantis, the sea-born stranger adopts the monicker "Mark Harris," and helps the U.S. Navy foil the diabolical plans of super villain Mister Schubert (the always entertaining Victor Buono), who intends to conquer the world. In the second film, Man From Atlantis II: Death Scouts, Mark - now working for the independent Foundation For Oceanic Research with his lovely savior, Dr. Elizabeth Merrill (Belinda J. Montgomery), must deal with a pair of hostile extraterrestrial body-snatchers - the vanguard for an alien invasion force. In Man From Atlantis III: Killer Spores, a returning space probe brings a lethal microscopic life-form back to Earth, and in Man From Atlantis IV: The Disappearances, the world's top scientists - including Elizabeth - are kidnapped by a mysterious organization.

All four TV movies are fairly entertaining, if a bit slow by today's standards, with decent scripts grounded in science and pseudo-science. Much mileage is gotten out of Mark's naivete/innocence and his "stranger in a strange land" situation. Duffy's charisma carries the flicks pretty well, and there's plenty of rather amazing (for the time) underwater action sequences, and plenty of classic, Old School special effects. Most notably, the unique submersible vehicle called The Cetacean, which is introduced in the pilot film as property of the villain, but is soon co-opted by the heroes, becoming Mark's mobile base of operations.

The two-disc, manufactured-on-demand DVD-R set from Warner Archive sports newly-remastered, "full-frame" 1.33:1 transfers. Picture quality is pretty remarkable for TV films of this vintage; there are a few minor nicks, specks and scratches, but nothing particularly distracting. Colors are surprisingly bright, and details are quite sharp. The 2.0 Dolby mono audio is clear and crisp, with no notable hiss or pops. Overall, it's a high-quality TV-on-DVD presentation.

Obviously, like most everything else I cover on this blog, I loved these movies when I was 13, and I am very aware that my childhood nostalgia for the Man From Atlantis colors my opinion of these TV movies today. If you grew up with the show back in the late 1970s - or just have a fondness for genre television from that era - you may want to pick these discs up. The presentation is extremely good, considering that the source material is 34 years-old. I happen to think they're a lot of fun, and you might, too.

Note: The complete 13-episode weekly series is available from Warner Archive, too, and my review of that DVD set will be posted here and at my DVD Late Show site shortly.

BUY: Man From Atlantis:  Complete TV Movies Collection  (Remastered, 2 Disc)

SPACEHUNTER (1983) Publicity Stills

Today, I present a handful of B&W press stills I've collected online from the 1983 interstellar Western,  Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone. As I've written before, I'm a big fan of Spacehunter, and would have loved to see a few more adventures of Wolff (Peter Strauss) and Niki (Molly Ringwald). Alas, it was not meant to be....

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Goulart & Kane's STAR HAWKS (1977)

Inspired - as so many things were in the late 70s - by the tremendous success of Star Wars, the newspaper feature syndicate NEA (Newspaper Enterprise Association) got it into their heads that a space opera comic strip that evoked the cosmic high adventure and swashbuckling derring-do of George Lucas' movie might be a popular addition to the nation's comics pages. They contacted comics historian and science fiction author Ron Goulart (who had written a quartet of Flash Gordon novels for Avon Books, and would later ghostwrite William Shatner's popular "Tek" series) to develop their proposed comic strip.

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Goulart then contacted comic book veteran Gil Kane, artist on scores of DC and Marvel titles, to collaborate with him on what ultimately became Star Hawks - which began on October 3, 1977 and ran through 1981. Star Hawks was a pulpy concoction that chronicled the adventures of Interplanetary Law Service officers Rex Jaxan, Chavez, and Alice K, as they battled a procession of interstellar criminals and miscreants. The strip actually took place in Goulart's "Barnum System," a sci-fi setting that he used in many of his original novels (incl. Clockwork Pirates, Galaxy Jane & Shaggy Planet), and, in 1980-81, Goulart even published two Star Hawks prose novels titled Empire 99 and The Cyborg King.

According to Kane, in a 1978 Comics Journal interview: "I got a call from Ron Goulart, who told me he'd been having some talks with Flash Fairfield, who is the art editor of the comics at [the newspaper syndicate] NEA, and they wanted to see me about going to work on that strip. I met with them at that time. Ron had done about two weeks of material, but it was very far from where we went with it. So we reworked the material, and I'm very strong ... on romance and lyricism, and I started to advance the cause of that kind of material and make it less satirical and more of a classic[-style] adventure strip. [For the hero,] originally I had James Coburn in mind. ... The hero's friend, Chavez, was modeled after a bald-headed Victor McLaglen."

The format the team pushed for was unique for newspaper syndication: the daily strip was laid out in two tiers. Each daily was twice as deep as a normal daily strip. This format allowed artist Kane great flexibility in his layouts, but it did hinder NEA's efforts to sign on papers to carry the strip. The strip ran daily and Sunday for three and a half years, for a total of 1,252 strips - in the end, the dailies had gone to a standard single-tier format, and the writing had been taken over by the great Archie Goodwin, who also wrote the Star Wars newspaper strip (as well as a million other things).

My local papers didn't carry the strip in the 70s, but I did pick up the two paperback collections published by Ace/Tempo in 1980/81, and read many of the installments in the 80s when Hawks was reprinted in early issues of Amazing Heroes magazine. I love Kane's depiction of the series universe and the stories are fun and fast-paced.

I know that Hermes Press has reprinted the entire run of the strips in a single volume, Star Hawks The Complete Series, but according to the customer reviews on Amazon, the art reproduction may not be as good as it could be, and I'm hesitant to shell out for the (rather pricey) book, if it doesn't look very good - especially as Kane's art is what I love best about the strip.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Captain's bLog: 0823.11

Still working on some new posts, including Man From Atlantis and Thundarr The Barbarian DVD reviews, a new Reader's Poll and articles about the Gil Kane/Ron Goulart sci-fi newspaper comic strip Star Hawks and the aborted Star Trek II television series from the mid-70s. I know there's not much of August left, but I'm hoping to get all of those posted before the end of the month. I am almost finished with the second Space: 1970 podcast, too, but it probably won't be available until September.

  Support Space: 1970: The site now has over 315 "followers" here on Blogger, and the Facebook fan page is up to 690 "likes." My sincere appreciation to everyone for their moral support and loyalty! I also want to thank everyone who have used the Amazon links on this site to make purchases (and the few who've made Paypal donations - if you'd like to contribute, there's a link in the right-hand sidebar). Every little bit helps.

So stay tuned. I am working hard on getting some more substantial posts finished soon. In the meantime, enjoy this cool Star Blazers art!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sybil Danning Presents: SPACE: 1999 - ALIEN ATTACK

Here's a fun, campy clip: from the mid-80's U.S.A. Home Video "Sybil Danning's Adventure Video" line of VHS tapes - an "action flick" imitation of the Elvira-hosted horror tapes - the nigh-legendary Sybil Danning, best remembered by the Space: 1970 faithful as the statuesque Valkyrie from Battle Beyond The Stars, introduces one of the Space:1999 "feature" compilation films, Alien Attack.

And here's the original VHS cover art:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Behind-The-Scenes Pix #5: PLANET OF THE APES

Just a day at the beach for lovely Linda Harrison and alpha male/omega man Charlton Heston during the shooting of Franklin Schaffner's original Planet Of The Apes in 1968.

SPACE WARS Magazine (1978) - Original Cover Art

Here's a very cool art find (thanks to Anthony Taylor): the original cover painting by an uncredited artist for the December 1978 issue of Space Wars magazine, one of the many Starlog imitators, published between 1977 and 1980 by the imaginatively-named "Stories Layout And Press Inc." I don't believe that I had this particular issue, but I'm pretty sure I had a few Space Wars mags in my stash at one point or another. If I recall correctly, Space Wars was all black & white, printed on the cheapest newsprint, with terrible photo reproduction and poor layout. Still, I read my copies over and over until they fell apart.

From the likenesses, it's obviously heavily photo-referenced, so it's odd that artist is so off-model on the Vipers. Still, I'm kinda tickled by the liberties taken with the design of the Colonial fighters - the changes are actually pretty damned cool!

ADDENDUM: As Tim pointed out in the comments, this art also appeared on a Dynamite magazine cover - with considerably less obscuring copy. I thought I'd seen it before!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

THE BLACK HOLE (1979) International Theatrical Posters

A lot of promotional art was generated for Disney's 1979 space opera, The Black Hole. About a year ago, I posted a bunch of theatrical one-sheets from the film - one of my favorites from the era - and now, here's a couple more nicely-designed International theatrical posters that I've stumbled across in my galactic Googling. I particularly like the top one - it's a great image. Enjoy.

McDonalds STAR TREK MEAL (1979)

The only meal approved for your kids by the United Federation of Planets. Wow.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

STAR WARS (1977) Poster by Howard Chaykin

Artist Howard Chaykin was personally selected by George Lucas to draw Marvel's official Star Wars comics adaptation back in 1977, and penciled both the film adaptation and the following Magnificent Seven-inspired story arc (several years before Roger Corman  & John Sayles would exploit the same idea in Battle Beyond the Stars!). This poster was a Limited Edition piece - the first - commissioned by  Lucas.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Diving Into The MAN FROM ATLANTIS (1977)

I received my Man From Atlantis DVDs - both the TV Movies Collection and Complete Series set - from Warner Archive (thanks, Matt!) last Friday, and spent a large chunk of my weekend submerged in its 70's retro TV charms. I will be posting a full review later this week, both here (with screenshots) and at my DVD Late Show site (without screenshots), but I wanted to make a few observations here that might not make it into my formal review.

One thing I noticed was that while the 90-minute TV films were science fiction, and had plots based around scientific (or pseudo-scientific) elements, the weekly television series was pretty much pure fantasy, with amnesiac aqua-mariner Mark Harris gallivanting around through time and space, often without even any attempt to rationalize or explain his travels. In one episode, "Shoot-Out At Land's End," he meets his identical, water-breathing twin in the Old West, but the time-shift is completely unexplained. In another, "The Naked Montague," he magically finds himself in the midst of Shakespeare's fictional Romeo and Juliet - and it's portrayed as being a "real" experience.

While the TV movies seem to be aimed at a family audience, with a little something for both parents and kids, the weekly series - probably by network dictate - seems to be purely a kid's show. There is virtually no violence at all in most episodes (even fist fights), and stories tend to be wrapped up in the most remarkably anti-climactic manner; usually by Mark just being infuriatingly calm and reasonable. For one example - "Imp," which stars Pat (Karate Kid) Morita as a mischievous - and utterly inexplicable - magical troublemaker who wreaks havoc and causes several deaths over 40 minutes... only to (SPOILER) meekly apologize and go away (to wherever he came from) once Mark gets a chance to talk to him for 30 seconds and reasonably explain to him the damage he's caused. Sigh.

The weekly show looks great, though, with consistently nice photography, great sets (the revamped interior of the Cetacean submersible and the Foundation's underground headquarters are both really slick, by 70s TV standards), and marvelous, Old School miniature effects. There's even some little bits of stop-motion here and there, handled by Gene Warren's (The Land Of the Lost) effects house.

Patrick Duffy is always likable and engaging, and Belinda J. Montgomery (who unfortunately sees her role drastically diminished once the show goes to series - and is absent entirely from the final two installments) is beautiful and sexy-smart. Victor Buono is amusing as Mark's recurring nemesis, Mr. Schubert, but he's frankly overused (he appears in five out of the first seven episodes) and far too genial to be much of a threat. In fact, he's so nonthreatening, that it really drives home the idea that NBC saw Man From Atlantis as a prime-time kiddie show, rather than a general audience science fiction adventure.

Again, I'll be writing full reviews for later in the week, but I will say that Warner Archive's "remastered" DVDs look really good. There's still plenty of specks and bits of debris on the prints, but overall picture quality is very stable and strong, with bright colors, and generally excellent detail. Stay tuned.