Tuesday, April 30, 2013

News: 1978 BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Movie Blu-ray Confirmed - Coming In May!

Looks like the earlier rumors are true. According to various sources, Universal will be releasing a high-def Blu-ray of the 1978 theatrical release version of the Battlestar Galactica pilot on May 14th, which they are labeling as the "35th Anniversary Edition."

As long-time fans know, in order to help recoup some of its high production costs, Universal released a theatrical version of the Battlestar Galactica pilot, "Saga Of A Star World," around Christmas, 1978. It primarily played in non-U.S. markets, but it got some domestic distribution too, the theatrical experience augmented by the studio's patented Sensurround audio process.

Very few details about this edition are available as yet. Presumably, this will be the matted, 1.78:1 widescreen version that Universal previously released on DVD. No bonus features or supplements have been announced. It also appears that it will be Best Buy exclusive, so bear that in mind if you want to pick it up. (It's already on their website for pre-order HERE.)  

I'll be buying it for sure.

Behind-The-Scenes Pix #40: PLANET OF THE APES

Actor Maurice Evans, made up for his role as Dr. Zaius, enjoys a cigarette between takes on location during the filming of Franklin Schaffner's Planet Of The Apes in 1967.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Re-post: My Enterprise Incident

I'm re-posting this article from 2011 because I actually found the photo mentioned in the story, and have updated the post accordingly. I also discovered that I had the year wrong - in the original post, I remembered these events taking place in 1976, but from the date stamped on the back of the photograph by the developer, it was actually the Spring of 1980.

Not my photo...
Back in the Spring of 1980, when I was 16 years-old, my family took a vacation trip to Washington D.C. with a side trip to the Amish country of Pennsylvania. I was particularly excited to visit the Smithsonian's Air & Space Museum because I knew that the original U.S.S. Enterprise model, used in the filming of Star Trek, was on display there. Everything else about that trip was pretty much of secondary importance to me. What really mattered was getting to see that iconic starship with my own eyes.

Also not my picture...
Upon our arrival at the Air & Space Museum, I dragged my family right past the Spirit of St. Louis and the Wright Bros. plane - though I did stop briefly to examine the Apollo capsule they had on display - and headed for the "Life In The Universe?" exhibit, where, suspended from the ceiling, was the Enterprise in all her glory. With my little Kodak camera, I took almost a dozen photos of the starship, from just as many different angles, and marveled at being in the ship's presence. Eventually, my parents dragged me away, and I enjoyed the rest of my visit to the museum.

THIS is my photo!
Unfortunately, when I had my film developed after our trip, I discovered that the camera had jammed, leaving me with a single print - of a dozen superimposed images of the Enterprise from a dozen angles. Oddly, the camera worked fine before and after I tried to shoot the model. Hmmm....

 I understand that the Enterprise is still on display at the Air & Space Museum, although it's been repainted a few times and moved to the Gift Shop. One of these days, I hope to get back there and visit the great lady again....

GALAXINA (1980) Lobby Cards

I continue to have a soft spot in my heart (and head) for the 1980 Crown International comedy Galaxina. I honestly don't know why, except that it's part of the post-Star Wars space opera boom, and that, as awful as it is, I can't help but enjoy the damned thing. Anyway, here's a selection of Galaxina lobby cards that showcase the film's more interesting visuals, including Chris Walas' alien "rockbiter," the funky spaceship miniatures... and the admittedly stellar Dorothy Stratten as the titular android.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Robby The Robot STARLOG 1978 TV Commercial

I've been looking for this clip for a long time, and thanks to a head's up from Jerome Wybon (of the Forgotten Silver blog), I can now share it here with the rest of you Star Kids!

I dimly recall that I saw this rare Starlog TV commercial just once, and I believe it was during the 1978 airing of the Saturn Awards show. Amazingly, the Saturn Sci-fi Movie Awards, presented by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, actually aired on one of our local television stations (WCSH) for two years during the height of the Space: 1970 era - in 1978 and '79. If I recall correctly, the 1978 awards were co-hosted by Mark Hamill and Caroline Munro! (The '79 show was hosted by William Shatner, and his performance of "Rocket Man" has since become legendary!)

Anyway, here's the great Robby the Robot pitching a subscription to Starlog magazine - the periodic Star Kid bible - in its late 70s prime!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

News: Kenner's Abandoned ALIEN Action Figure Line Finally Coming... After 34 Years!

I don't often cover news about new retro-Space: 1970's era merchandise, but this one's a little different. Back in '79, Kenner inked a deal with 20th Century Fox to release a line of toys and action figures based on their new sci-fi film, Alien. That deal resulted in an awesome 18" figure of the titular xenomorph - a toy that bombed when parents found it too scary for their kids. Also, there was some controversy about making toys for children based on an R-rated horror film (collectible toys for adults was a market that didn't exist yet). Kenner reacted by cancelling their plans for a line of Alien action figures at the 3.75" size of their popular Star Wars line.

Well, after After 34 years, fans of the Alien franchise will finally be able get their hands on the abandoned toy line thanks to the folks at Super7. With the aid of collectors and toy industry employees, Super7 has acquired original reference material for the abandoned toy line from 1979 as well as 34-year-old prototypes and, with authorization by 20th Century Fox, the full series will be released this year with preorders beginning at the San Diego Comic-Con.

From their website:
“Under authorization from 20th Century Fox, Super7 will produce the full series of ALIEN toys as part of our ReAction Figure Series (Retro-Action). Each is stylized exactly as items from the “golden age” of action figures with approximately five points of articulation, accessories, and period-authentic blister card packaging.

Preorders will begin at San Diego Comic Con!

Collect all five ReAction Figures -

THE ALIEN (“BIG CHAP”) – w/ removable transparent dome, extendable jaws and glow-in-the-dark head!

RIPLEY – w/ Flame Thrower

ASH – w/ Motion Detector

DALLAS – w/ Flame Thrower

KANE IN NOSTROMO SPACESUIT – w/ removable helmet and transparent visor”
For more info and photos, check out the Super7 website.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Another Bionic Birthday

Space: 1970 wishes the one in-six million Lee Majors, a very happy birthday today. America's favorite astronaut-turned-cyborg secret agent, the original Six Million Dollar Man, turns 74 today.

Monday, April 22, 2013

FLASH GORDON (1980) Italian Character Posters

Today we've got a selection of very cool Flash Gordon character posters from the 1980 Dino deLaurentis/Mike Hodges film starring Sam J. Jones and Max Von Sydow

These were sent to me by an anonymous Star Kid who didn't name the source or the artist, but they appear to be Italian in origin. As always, if anyone has more info (or better scans), please share!

Friday, April 19, 2013

MORK Toys From Mattel

As I've mentioned before, I did watch Mork & Mindy regularly when it originally aired, although I've found it nearly impossible to sit through an episode as an adult. Still, it was a huge part of Star Kid culture, and was - or at least, Robin Williams was - quite a pop culture phenomenon in its time. Today's YouTube find is a vintage commercial for Mattel's line of Mork toys - action figures, plush dolls, and even a "Ork Egg" variation on their popular Slime product.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

News: MESSAGE FROM SPACE (1978) New on DVD

Kinji Fukasaku's 1978 Star Wars-inspired space opera, Message From Space, starring Vic Morrow and Sonny Chiba, received a Region 1 licensed DVD release from Shout! Factory this week. The disc - DVD only - contains the United Artists, English-language version of the movie.

Message has been available in the U.S. on DVD from Eastern Star since 2010 (it's the version I have), which contained the Japanese print with both Japanese and English audio. (My review of that disc can be found HERE.) I haven't seen the Shout! Factory edition as yet, so I can't speak as to the picture and audio quality, but the company usually does an exceptional job on their cult releases. As to the movie itself, it's one of my favorites of the International Star Wars rip-offs, and a lot of giddy fun.

The new Message From Space DVD is in stores now, and can be ordered through online retailers such as Amazon: Message From Space

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

SPACE: 1999 (1975) TV Guide Feature

From the July 5, 1975 issue of TV Guide, here's a two-page photo spread feature previewing the alien faces of the first season of Space: 1999. Anonymously penned in the magazine's usual snarky style, this article was probably my first glimpse of Gerry Anderson's epic series. I remember being very eager to see the show after reading this...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

BUCK ROGERS (1979) Tie-In Paperbacks

Today we have the covers of the two authorized Buck Rogers In The 25th Century paperback tie-in novels, published in 1979. Written by Richard Lupoff under the pseudonym "Addison Steele," these books are, frankly, awful. The first book is a novelization of the TV pilot/theatrical film script by Glen Larson & Leslie Stevens, and appears to be based on an early draft, as there are a number of differences between the book and movie.

I've read some fine nonfiction books by Lupoff (his Edgar Rice Burroughs: Master of Adventure is essential reading) but his prose here is awkward, clunky and amateurish. That said, I do like the cover painting, even though it looks like the Gil Gerard likeness was painted by a different artist, and I wish the starfighter wasn't obscured by the logo.

Buck Rogers: That Man On Beta is based on an unfilmed script or treatment by Bob Shayne, and is even worse. The characterizations are all off, the world portrayed in the book only vaguely resembles the world established on the show, and the writing style is, once again, a struggle to get through. The cover art has a nice, pulpy, space opera feel to it... doesn't look anything like Gil here, though.

Even though I coveted these books back in the day, I only managed to get my hands on them in the past year or so. While I'm glad to have them in my collection, I'm equally glad that I didn't pay too much for them.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Six Million Dollar DYNAMITE

Seventies cyborg superspy Steve Austin strikes an iconic pose in this terrific Six Million Dollar Man illustration (artist as yet unknown to me) from issue #8 of Scholastic Publishing's Dynamite kids magazine, published in February of 1975.

Steve Austin once again graced the cover of Dynamite a year or so later, battling it out with The Bionic Woman, Jaime Sommers! The November 1976 issue, #29,sported this illustration - which looks to me like it could have been rendered by the same artist. Great likenesses of Lee Majors & Lindsay Wagner (even if - as a commenter points out below - they're wrestling with their non-bionic arms)!

Show of (bionic) hands, Star Kids: how many of you had these issues?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

WONDER WOMAN (1974) DVD Review

For fans of comic book superheroine Wonder Woman, there's pretty much only one live-action Amazon Princess, and that's the statuesque, raven-tressed Lynda Carter, who played the role on television between 1975 and 1979.

But before Carter inherited the golden tiara and star-spangled swimsuit, blonde ex-tennis star Cathy Lee Crosby portrayed a very different incarnation of the character in a failed 1974 TV pilot film. That unsuccessful attempt, simply called Wonder Woman, aired as a TV movie and showed up occasionally in syndication during the 70s and 80s, but never garnered a home video release until just recently, as a Warner Archive manufactured-on-demand DVD.

Diana Prince (Crosby) is secretary to U.S. government spymaster Steve Trevor (Kaz Garas). But she is also - secretly - super agent Wonder Woman, an Amazon princess from the mysterious, females only, Paradise Island. When top secret books containing lists of American undercover agents are stolen from several U.S. embassies, Wonder Woman goes into action, tracking the mastermind responsible, a suave International criminal named Abner Smith (Ricardo Montalban, Khan of Star Trek II).

In the course of her mission, she comes into conflict with Smith's skeevy henchman Calvin (Andrew Prine) and a renegade Amazon named Ahnjayla (sexy brunette Anitra Ford). Can WW, in her star-spangled track suit, retrieve the secrets before they can be auctioned off to America's enemies?

Written and developed by John D.F. Black (Star Trek - TOS, Shaft) and directed by TV veteran Vincent McEveety, this Wonder Woman appears to be inspired by a then-recent run in the comics where the heroine had lost her powers and costume, and was portrayed as a Diana Rigg-inspired adventurer. The familiar, red, white & blue cleavage-baring costume, magic lasso and tiara are nowhere to be seen, although the famous bullet-deflecting bracelets do appear, tricked out with a variety of superspy gadgets.

The pace of the film is relatively brisk, but the script is far too talky and coincidence-riddled, and the resolution of the case is an anticlimactic fizzle. The action - what little there is - is underwhelming as well, with the anticipated battle between WW and her Amazon "sister" ultimately consisting of a lethargic, poorly-choreographed stick fight between obvious stunt doubles.

Despite its commercial & creative failure, the movie has long been desired by comic book buffs and superhero movie completists (and I count myself as both). The burned-to-order DVD from Warner Archive features a very bright and colorful transfer from a reasonably clean print, presented in its original 4x3 television aspect ratio. Audio is a clear Dolby Digital Mono. There are no extras or bonus features provided.

The Cathy Lee Crosby Wonder Woman is an amusing 70s genre curio, of interest really only to diehard fans of the character and the genre. That said, those fans should be quite satisfied with Warner Archive's disc.

BUYWonder Woman TV Movie Pilot (1974)