Saturday, September 29, 2012

Warren CLOSE ENCOUNTERS (1977) Official Magazine

During the late Seventies, Jim Warren's Warren Magazines (publishers of Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella and Famous Monsters of Filmland) put out a number of "Official" tie-in mags for a variety of genre films, from Star Wars and Alien to Moonraker and Meteor.

Here's the cover of their Close Encounters Of The Third Kind magazine, with a striking close-up of Carlo Rambaldi's featured animatronic alien.

As I've said before, these publications were basically full-issue, Famous Monsters-styled "filmbooks," featuring detailed plot summaries, actor profiles and behind-the-scenes articles, all written for 13 to 15 year-olds. And... then there were the pages of "Captain Company" mail order ads in the back....

Thursday, September 27, 2012

When BUCK ROGERS (1979) met Flash Gordon

Click for larger view
I've seen a lot of publicity stills taken when the great Buster Crabbe - the Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers of Forties Universal Studios movie serials - guest-starred with Gil Gerard on the second episode of Buck Rogers In The 25th Century, "Planet Of The Slave Girls," as retired space hero, Brigadier Gordon.

But I never saw this particularly amusing one, distributed to newspaper feature editors, before today. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

STAR TREK (1975) Power Records Covers

Here are some of the Star Trek comic book & record combos produced by Power Records back in 1975. The artwork in these comics was provided by Neal Adams' Continuity Associates (incl. contributions from Adams himself, Russ Heath and Dick Giordano), and the stories were written by Space: 1970 superscribe, Alan Dean Foster. The dramatic audio plays are pretty good - these two stories in particular are designed to make good use of the format - but suffer from not having any of the original actors involved.

As for the comic book art, it's generally terrific - but these books are somewhat notorious for making Sulu into an African American, and Uhura a blonde!  The Animated Series' Lieutenant M'Ress appears in "Passage to Moauv," but instead of being drawn as a felinoid, she looks like an Orion slave girl!

I still have this one!
There were additional Star Trek audio dramas from Power Records that appeared on LP s and 45 RPM records throughout the latter half of the Seventies, including a few that tied-in with the release of  Star Trek - The Motion Picture in 1979.

There are several sites on the web devoted to Power Records, where you can find MP3s of the records and pdfs of the comics. I prefer The Power Records Plaza, myself.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Birthday Heroes

Today marks the birthdays of two major Space: 1970-era icons: Mark Hamill and the late Christopher Reeve. I'm sure I speak for all Star Kids when I wish Mister Hamill - Luke Skywalker himself - a very happy 61st birthday. I'd also like to take this opportunity, on the anniversary of his birth, to remember Reeve, one of the few actors to so perfectly embody the essence of the superhero they portrayed. Both of these gentlemen portrayed heroes of my youth, and I still carry with me the inspiration they sparked in childhood.

Monday, September 24, 2012

LOGAN'S RUN (1977) Look-in Cover

Another terrific Logan's Run cover, this time from the January 1978 issue of the British children's magazine, Look-in. I don't know for sure who the artist is, but it looks like it could be by Arnaldo Putzu, an acclaimed movie poster artist who did many covers for the magazine. If any of my readers from across the pond can confirm or correct that attribution, I'll happily update this post. Whoever painted it, I love it.

Plus Top Bionic Action!

ADDENDUM: Several Star Kids - both here and over on the Space: 1970 Facebook page - have confirmed my suspicion that the art was by the great Arnaldo Putzu - and passed along the sad news of the artist's recent passing. I didn't grow up with Look-in, but since I've been scouring the Internet for cool stuff to share on this blog, I've come to really appreciate Putzu's impressive cover renditions of so many of my childhood favorites, and, of course, as a film buff, I really dig his many iconic movie posters.

R.I.P., sir.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Defend Your Galaxy With....The Force Beam!

I received this in my e-mail today from a friend: a British magazine ad for one of the very first Star Wars knock-off toys - the "Force Beam!" Basically a flashlight attached to a long plastic tube, this was the closest thing to a lightsaber an aspiring Jedi Knight could buy... at least, for a while. The manufacturers took advantage of Lucasfilm & Kenner's slowness in getting licensed product on the consumer market, and rushed these to K-Marts and chain toy stores months before an official lightsaber toy had appeared. In fact, I'm pretty sure I got one of these (or some other, similar unauthorized lightsaber knock-off) for Christmas in '77!

(A quick Google search found this ad - and some shots of the toy itself - on a site called The Star Wars Collector's Archive.)

What amazes me about the advertisement above isn't the obvious Star Wars-inspired graphics, but the fact that they actually use the Star Wars name (and facsimile logo) in an ad for what was clearly an unofficial product! Like the makers of the Warrior's Battlejacket, these guys had stones!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Coming Attractions: PLANET OF THE APES (1968) Theatrical Trailer

Charlton Heston himself invites you to take a trip to the Planet of The Apes in this trailer for the first film in the popular 20th Century Fox franchise - which, before Star Wars, was, by far, the biggest sci-fi phenomon of the Space: 1970 era. This film spawned four theatrical sequels (and a couple of remakes, decades later), two television series, countless games, toys, comic books and other merchandise.

This is where it all began...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

News: BUCK ROGERS (1979) Season 2 DVDs to Include TV Version of "Awakening"

Thanks, Universal. According to a news report at the TV Shows On DVD website today, the Buck Rogers In The 25th Century stand-alone re-release of Season Two (which was delayed until the Spring of '13) will now include the TV version of the premiere episode of the show, "Awakening" as a bonus feature.

Previous DVD/home video releases have only included the 1979 theatrical feature film version of the pilot movie. When that movie aired on NBC the following September as the first episode of the weekly series, it contained alternate footage and a new ending designed to set up the subsequent installments.

The comparatively rare TV version of "Awakening" is currently available on Netflix Instant, but this DVD release marks its first appearance on U.S. home video.

This really annoys me. While I'm glad that it's finally becoming available, I chafe at the notion of buying the eleven Year Two episodes I already purchased in the 2004 "Complete Epic Series" set again - at a price greater than that of the aforementioned complete series set - just to get the TV version of "Awakening." Apparently, this is my reward for supporting Universal nine years ago. To some, this may not be an issue, but I cannot easily afford spending another $25 for stuff I already have, just to satisfy my need for completeness.

Oh well. I guess I'll just have to wait and see what my financial situation is like next Spring, and decide then. (Hell, Buck Rogers may end up rivaling Star Trek TOS and Space: 1999 for number of times I buy the same show over and over...) For those who have already decided, the discs are already available for pre-order through Amazon: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Season Two

Behind-The-Scenes Pix #26: GENESIS II

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry poses on the impressive "PAX subshuttle station" set of his 1973 post-Apocalyptic sci-fi pilot film for Warner Brothers and CBS, Genesis II, starring Alex Cord (Airwolf) and Mariette Hartley.

Genesis II  is available as a manufactured-on-demand DVD from Warner Archive, and I reviewed both the movie and the disc HERE.

Monday, September 17, 2012

News: SPACE: 1999 Year 2 Blu-ray Update

The TV Shows On DVD website has an update today on the long-promised Year Two high-def Blu-rays for Space: 1999. Apparently, due to the high cost of converting the audio to digital, production on the discs has slowed to a crawl: 
Essentially, here's deal: When Network (which does all the production and remastering on the BDs under license with ITV) went to produce the Season One set, they discovered that all of the mag tracks (that make up the audio on the first season episodes) had already been digitized, so the company didn't have to take on the cost of doing it themselves in order to create new 5.1 audio mixes for each episode (in addition to the original mono). However, those tracks haven't been converted yet for Season Two and the high cost of digitizing this material has caused the budget for the BD production to become quite expensive. Network has informed me that they're definitely committed to releasing the season on Blu-ray and they're talking with ITV and New Video about the best way to make it happen affordably while ensuring that the set is of the same high quality as Season One.
Network is projecting a release date of late 2013, or possibly even sometime in 2014!

Man, that sucks. I really loved the first season Blus, and while I don't like the second season of 1999 as much as the first, I still would like to replace my existing standard-def DVDs with Blu-ray versions. It looks like it's going to be a very long wait.

For the full story, CLICK HERE.

WONDER WOMAN (1974) TV Pilot Movie

From March of 1974, here's the TV Guide advertisement for the first (underwhelming) attempt to bring DC Comics' premiere superheroine, Wonder Woman, to network TV. Basing their interpretation of the character on recent issues of the comic book where Diana Prince (portrayed by blonde tennis player Cathy Lee Crosby in the telefilm) had lost her powers and was acting more as a secret agent than a super-hero, the unsuccessful pilot pitted the less than amazing Amazon against a masterspy named "Abner Smith" (portrayed by none other than Khan himself, Ricardo Montalban), his sleazy henchman, George (Andrew Prine), and a renegade Amazon from Paradise Island, Ahnjayla (played by the sexy starlet Anitra Ford).

Diana never dons her familiar star-spangled comic book costume in the film, but does wear a uniform of sorts near the end of the film. It's far less revealing than the comic's classic togs, but at least it keeps the patriotic color scheme. Sadly, it's not just the costume that disappoints - the movie is extremely boring, and Crosby, while pretty, is fairly bland and uninteresting in the role. She was much more charsimatic a few years later as one of the hosts of the proto-reality series, That's Incredible!

As far as I can remember, nobody much liked the movie, but the ratings were pretty decent, and ABC was still interested in the property. A year or so later, Warner Brothers and ABC unveiled (The New Adventures of) Wonder Woman, starring lovely Lynda Carter in the classic comic book uniform.

Still, the 1974 telefilm showed up pretty frequently in syndication during the late Seventies and throughout the Eighties on independent channels and basic cable "superstations" like USA Network, TNT and TBS. I also know that the Sci-Fi Channel showed it at least once in the mid-90s.

Being the 70s genre TV fanatic I am, and even though I remember this version of Wonder Woman being deadly dull, I would still like to see Warner Archive put it out on DVD, if only for the sake of completeness. It'd be cool to have it on my DVD shelf next to the Lynda Carter series.

Friday, September 14, 2012

KING KONG (1976) Lobby Cards

I'm actually on record as not hating the 1976 Dino de Laurentis version of King Kong. In fact, I have a slightly complicated history with the movie, as I'll relate here one of these days when I'm not quite so sleepy.

Anyway, here's a selection of lobby cards issued by Paramount to promote the film, starting off with a couple of John Berkey's dramatic promotional paintings.

The next batch of cards (understandably) focus on the lovely Jessica Lange:

And here's the last one I have from this set - and the only one that actually shows more of the titular titan  than just his giant, animatronic hands - in this case, the 30' stuffed Kong that only appeared at the end...

If you weren't familiar with the original 1933 version of Kong in 1976 - and a lot of kids probably weren't - this card would have been a truly disappointing spoiler.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

STARLOG Photo Guidebooks

Virtually every single month of my adolescence, I made a pilgrimage to our local Mr. Paperback bookseller to purchase the latest issue of Starlog magazine. I loved that mag, and tried to collect not only the monthly issues, but their spin-off publications, as well. The annuals, the poster magazines, the souvenir movie mags, and, most of all, their "Photo Guidebook" volumes.

At $4-$5 each, that was actually not easy for me to accomplish on my meager, dollar-a-week allowance, so I only managed to buy less than half of the books they put out (Spaceships, Aliens, and two Special Effects volumes - I really wanted Weapons, but never got it).

The Starlog Photo Guidebooks were exactly what they sound like - thin, 8 1/2 x 11" paperbacks filled with stills from science fiction movies and TV shows, with descriptive captions and articles.  Here are some of the covers from that series. Enjoy!

Coming Attractions: FLASH GORDON (1980) TV Spot

Another vintage TV commercial - in this case, a campy, 30-second spot for the theatrical release of Mike Hodges' Flash Gordon feature, from December, 1980.

Monday, September 10, 2012

UFO (1970) Paperback Novelizations

Here are the covers to the two UFO novelizations published by Warner Books in the United States. I actually have both of these, picked up at a yard sale in the mid-80s, if I recall correctly. At the time, I hadn't seen the series since I was a little kid of five or six years old, and really only remembered the cool SHADO interceptors, the purple-haired moonchix and the UFOs themselves. I didn't really recall the characters or how dark and grim the  stories were... reading these books, written by British author John Burke - under the pseudonym, "Robert Miall" - based on the original scripts, really surprised me with their paranoid tone.

It wasn't until a decade or so later that I finally saw the show again during its run on the Sci-Fi Channel in the mid-90s, so for many years, these two books were my only exposure to Gerry Anderson's classic series.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

News: BUCK ROGERS Season 2 DVDs Delayed

According to the fine folks at TV Shows On DVD, Universal Studios has postponed the release date of the stand-alone re-issue of Buck Rogers In The 25th Century - Season Two from November to January 8th, 2013.No reason has been publicly given for the delay.

As previously reported, Buck Rogers In The 25th Century: Season Two will contain all 11 episodes (13 hours) on four discs, presented in full screen video, English mono sound, and with subtitles in English, French and Spanish - at a suggested retail price of $24.98.

Amazon currently has it available for pre-order at $22.48 + shipping. (The Complete Epic Series is still available new, by the way, containing both seasons, for only $17.55. Go figure.)

Pre-Order: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Season Two

Buy: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: The Complete Epic Series