Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Coming Attractions: DARK STAR (1974) Theatrical Trailer

Not too long ago, I wrote about the Dark Star paperback novelization by Alan Dean Foster. That got me thinking that it was time to watch the movie again, and that reminded me that I hadn't yet posted the trailer to the John Carpenter-Dan O'Bannon sci-fi comedy here on the blog. So... here it is! Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

BUCK ROGERS Comic Art By Mel Crawford

Here's the original cover painting for Western Publishing/Gold Key Comics' Buck Rogers In The 25th Century #2, the first issue of their 1979 series adapting the NBC television series (Western had published a Buck one-shot back in 1964, hence the numbering). The painting is by versatile commercial illustrator and fine artist, Mel Crawford. The talented Crawford did countless comics covers for Dell and Western and is especially well-regarded for his children's book illustrations.

Monday, July 29, 2013


The 1979 Charles Band production, The Day Time Ended, isn't so much a movie as it is a showreel for some of the era's most talented special effects artist. There's no plot to speak of; there's just a series of disconnected events, each designed to showcase one special effects technique or another.

The story, such as it is, is this: a family moves into its new, isolated desert home on the same day that astronomers witness an unprecedented triple supernova some 200 light years away from Earth. Somehow - it's never really explained adequately - they find themselves in the center of a violent space-time "vortex" and besieged by UFOs, strange (stop-motion) creatures, menacing machines, and a wide variety of glowing lights. It's basically Poltergeist with a sci-fi rather than supernatural basis, but far less narratively coherent.

The cast, led by Hollywood veterans Jim Davis (Dallas) and Dorothy Malone, gamely give it their best, but since most of the time they're reacting to effects that will be created in post, thta's not saying too much. The direction by John "Bud" Cardos (Kingdom Of The Spiders, The Dark) is likewise workmanlike, but one gets the sense that nobody involved - neither cast nor crew - quite knew what the story was supposed to be about.

The movie's saving grace is the aforementioned special effects, a virtual buffet of pre-digital cinematic illusions by some of the best freelance FX guys of the era. There's some terrific stop-motion creatures designed by Lyle Conway and animated by David Allen and Randy Cook; lots of optical rays and zipping ghost lights by Peter Kuran and crew; and some gorgeous matte paintings by Jim Danforth.

As a fan of Old School analog effects work, I do enjoy The Day Time Ended (a title nearly as nonsensical as its story - it was shot under the name Vortex, which is at least a little more apt), but every time I see it, I can't help but shake my head at the non-sequitur-riddled script. It's a weird one, that's for sure.

 The movie was released to theaters in 1979, and subsequently made its way to VHS under several labels over the next couple of decades. I own it on the laserdisc issued in the mid-90s, which sports a decent, if pan & scan, 4x3 full-frame image. I understand that it is also available on a DVD of somewhat questionable provenance. (If you have a Roku or other streaming device, it is also available for free on the Threshold online movie channel, though their presentation looks like it's straight from the VHS.)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Captain's bLog: 0726.13

Not a whole lot to report on this time - I've been very busy with other projects (like my free weekly webcomics Perils On Planet X and Gravedigger) over the last month or so, and it's left me little time to work on this site or any of my other blogs. Fortunately, thanks to the annual geek festival that is San Diego Comic Con, there's been some exciting DVD/Blu-ray news to pass on, so this blog hasn't been entirely dormant.

Personally, I'm most excited about Shout/Scream Factory's Saturn 3 Blu-ray announcement - I've always had a soft spot (in my head?) for that Stanley Donen sci-fi gothic.

Speaking of my weekly webcomics (see what I did there?) the interplanetary adventure Perils On Planet X, drawn by the talented Gene Gonazles, recently wrapped up its first 24-page chapter, "Captives Of the Corsair Queen." Chapter Two, "Flight Into Terror," begins next Friday, August 2nd. Perils On Planet X is a free, full-color serialized sci-fantasy swashbuckler with a new page posted every Friday.

POPX chronicles the adventures of modern-day Earth astronaut Donovan Hawke, stranded on the lost planet of Xylos, hundreds of millions of years in the past. The story is packed with alien monsters, beautiful women and lots of Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers-styled thrills. If you haven't checked it before, now is a good time to go and read the entire first chapter - if you do, I suspect you'll want to hang on for the rest.

A Note Of Thanks: I want to express my gratitude to Star Kid C Raymond Pechonick, who recently sent me the last Berkley Battlestar Galactica and Pocket Space: 1999 novels I needed to fill out those particular paperback collections. I greatly appreciate it!

•  The Usual Plug: Anyone who enjoys my writing and the reviews on this blog should check out my DVD Late Show site, where I have been reviewing B-movies, cult films and genre television shows on DVD and Blu-ray disc since 2005. Among the over 700 reviews on the site are plenty of Space: 1970-era favorites, like Battle Beyond The Stars, Damnation Alley, Starcrash, The Starlost, the Space: 1999 Blu-rays, and many more. I haven't posted much to the site this Summer, but new articles will begin appearing in a week or so, including a full-fledged review of Olive Films' Hangar 18 Blu-ray.

Behind-The-Scenes Pix #43: LAND OF THE LOST

One of Gene Warren's animators brings stop-motion "life" to the Marshall family's pet brontosaurus, Dopey, for the 1974 Saturday morning science fiction series, Land Of The Lost. When I was a kid, I loved that baby dino....

Thursday, July 25, 2013

News: Hanna-Barbera's SPACE STARS (1981) Coming To DVD From Warner Archive

Well, it's a good thing there's been a lot of home video news lately, as I've been too busy with other projects to do much substantial posting here on the blog. Among many other announcements at San Diego Comic Con last week, apparently the folks at Warner Archive teased an upcoming release for the 1981 Saturday morning cartoon series, Space Stars.

As I wrote a while back: with Space Stars, Hanna-Barbara jumped on the post-Star Wars boom by reviving and repackaging their 60s outer space heroes Space Ghost and The Herculoids (mixing both classic episodes and newly-made installments) with two other space-themed cartoons - The Teen Force and Astro (from The Jetsons) & The Space Mutts - for an hour-long, themed programming block.

I don't believe an official release date has been announced yet, but I'll try and stay on top of it and let you all know as soon as I find out.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Birthday Wonder!

On behalf of starstruck Star Kids everywhere, Space: 1970 offers many very happy birthday wishes to the era's most amazing Amazon - the ever-youthful Lynda Jean Carter (born July 24, 1951) of The New Adventures Of Wonder Woman!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

News: SATURN 3 (1980) Coming to Blu-ray!

I don't have much info on this as yet, but apparently it was announced at the San Diego Comic Con this weekend that Shout! Factory (under its Scream Factory label) will be bringing Stanley Donen's 1980 space gothic, Saturn 3, to Blu-ray disc, possibly before the end of the year. As I find out more about this release, I'll pass it along.

Previously issued by Artisan Entertainment on DVD about a decade ago, with a fuzzy, unattractive, 4x3 "full-frame" transfer, the film is long overdue for a proper, widescreen anamorphic home video release, and getting it in 1080p HD is icing on the cake. Hopefully, this edition will include some extras - perhaps even the deleted "Blue Dreamers" sequence.

Saturn 3 stars Kirk Douglas, Farrah Fawcett, (a completely re-dubbed) Harvey Kietel and a truly nifty evil robot named Hector. The movie was conceived by Star Wars production designer John Barry, who also intended to direct it before his untimely passing - and it still bears his unmistakable visual style. It's easy to argue the film's dramatic merits, but the cinematography by Billy Williams and superb production design of the movie are gorgeous to behold - Saturn 3 is one of the coolest-looking space films of the Space: 1970 era, and should benefit greatly from the high-definition treatment.

I'm personally very excited by this news, and can't wait to add Saturn 3 to my Blu-ray collection.

UPDATE: Shout! Factory has confirmed that the Saturn 3 Blu-ray will be released in December. I know what I'm getting for Christmas...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

News: SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN Season 4 DVDs in October

According to TV Shows On DVD, Universal has announced the wide release of the fourth season of The Six Million Dollar Man DVDs (previously available exclusively from Time-Life as part of a "Complete Series" package) on October 8, 2013.To refresh our aging memories, this is the year that Lee Majors sported that stylin' 70s 'stache!

The set includes all 22 episodes of the Fourth Season, along with three crossover episodes of The Bionic Woman. Episodes include: "The Return of Bigfoot," "Kill Oscar," "Death Probe," and "The Bionic Boy." Guest stars include Lindsay Wagner, John Saxon (Planet Earth), Stefanie Powers, Ted Cassidy (as Bigfoot!), Sandy Duncan, Farrah Fawcett (Logan's Run), Elke Sommer, John Houseman, Jennifer Darling, Carol Jones, Dick Van Patten, Joan Van Ark, Bernie Kopell, Robert Loggia, Ray Walston, Kim Basinger, Pamela Hensley (Buck Rogers), John de Lancie, Nehemiah Persoff, John Hoyt, Heather Menzies (Logan's Run TV), and Yvonne Craig, among others.

As noted above, this penultimate season not only featured the return of the alien Bionic Bigfoot (with Ted Cassidy replacing Andre the Giant in the role) but the inexplicably popular Venus Probe - a Soviet robot tank that accidentally lands on U.S. soil and goes on a rampage of destruction. Considering that the "Death Probe" was nothing but a malfunctioning machine with no personality, it's weird how excited I - and a couple million other kids - were by the damned thing. The "Death Probe" episodes were so highly-rated that the producers even had to bring it back for a rematch with Steve Austin in Season 5!

You can pre-order Season 4 now from Amazon: The Six Million Dollar Man: Season 4

DARK STAR (1974) Novelization By Alan Dean Foster

First, a confession: I have this book somewhere in my collection, but I don't believe I've ever read it. That said, I'm glad I own a copy (and will read it, one of these days), because I just love the fact that 70s sci-fi superscribe Alan Dean Foster not only penned the novelizations of the screenplays to Star Wars, Alien, The Black Hole and a bunch of Star Trek animated episodes, but the offbeat, satirical Dark Star, too! (Oddly, the British posters for the movie actually credit Foster for the film story, which of course, was written by John Carpenter & Dan O'Bannon...)

The prolific science fiction author Foster actually appeared on VCI Entertainment's special "Hyperdrive" edition DVD  in an interview segment (also included with the more recent Blu-ray version) where he discusses how he came to write the novel and his thoughts on the film that inspired it. Over the course of the segment, he also discusses his career, specifically how he came to become the "go-to guy" for genre film tie-in paperbacks.

Monday, July 15, 2013


Today, we've got a batch of lobby cards from the 1980 "Special Edition" release of Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Columbia's marketing department basically stuck with the most iconic shots from the previous release of the film - no doubt because of their familiarity - and supplemented the package with a couple of stills from the new footage. After all these years, though, that image above still gives me a thrill. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

BUCK ROGERS (1979) Mediascene Cover By Steranko

Issue #34 of Jim Steranko's Mediascene tabloid magazine was a "Science Fiction Preview" issue, with coverage of Space: 1970 favorites Meteor, The Shape Of Things To Come, and... Buck Rogers. Here's a snapshot of Steranko's terrific cover illustration of the heroic Captain Rogers and friends/enemies!

Monday, July 8, 2013

THE HUMANOID (1979) Trade Ad

Click to view larger
Not too long ago, I finally got my mitts on a copy of The Humanoid, the Italian Star Wars knock-off starring Richard Kiel, Barbara Bach and Corinne Clery. I'd wanted to see it for years, and surprisingly, I was not disappointed.

While not quite as gleefully bonkers as other International space operas produced in the cosmic wake of George Lucas' box office megahit (I'm looking at you, Starcrash and Message from Space), The Humanoid does have its own Continental charms. It's also surprisingly watchable, with some cool production design and neat-looking spaceships. Of course, the shadow of Wars hangs over all of it (especially the archvillain's Vader-esqe helmet/costume), but there are some unique elements buried in there to enjoy as well. It's good, dumb fun.

Here's Ttitanus Studios' ad, printed in the May 17th, 1978 issue of Variety, announcing the Aldo Lado-directed (under the Anglicized nom de plume, "George B. Lewis") interstellar epic to the motion picture trade. Columbia Pictures ultimately picked it up for distribution in many International territories... but not the U.S., where it still has never received a legitimate theatrical or home video release.

Friday, July 5, 2013

More German PLANET OF THE APES Novelizations

Escape From The Planet Of The Apes
A while back, I posted the covers of several German paperback editions of some of the Planet Of The Apes television show novelizations by George Alec Effinger. The artwork on those covers was pretty wild. Well, here are the same publishers' editions of the Escape From The Planet Of The Apes (1971) by acclaimed science fiction author Jerry Pournell, and Battle for The Planet Of The Apes (1973) by David Gerrold.

Battle For The Planet Of The Apes
As with those previously-showcased covers, these illustrations are delightfully lurid, and have a certain primitive charm. Interestingly, though the scenes depicted don't seem to be derived from those particular films/novels, at least this time the German artist(s) got the apes' outfits (mostly) right - unlike the weird, Civil War cavalry outfits the simians sported on the other set of covers!

Thursday, July 4, 2013


As it is Independence Day here in the United States, I figured it was time to finally post something here at Space: 1970 about the two 1979 Captain America TV movies, starring Reb Brown (Yor) as the star-spangled avenger.  Fortunately, I had this missive from loyal Star Kid Jason Shepherd in my e-mailbox, and I thought it would serve nicely, so:

Attached are some pictures from the 1979 CBS Captain America movies. Since Space:1970 has started covering TV superheroes of the era, I figured you might want these.

These movies represent a unique frustration for me.  Captain America has always been my favorite superhero, and I realize how lucky Cap fans were to see these movies, but... it stings that they're not very good.  Clearly they were less inspired by the comics and more by the then-contemporary Six Million Dollar Man series, including giving Cap an Oscar Goldman-like boss and a unique sound effect when he used his super-strength.

If Captain America had made the transition from TV movies to TV series, would it have been very good?  I like to think it could have become a decent series.  Reb Brown would have had a chance to stretch his acting chops a bit, grow into the role.  They would have to settle on a format that allowed for more action -- more fights, less motorcycle-riding (a weak point of the TV movies!)  While they likely wouldn't have been able to do TV versions of Cap's classic Rogue's Gallery, hopefully they would have invented some decent foes for Cap instead of run-of-the-mill crooks and spies.

Me again: I don't think I actually saw the two Captain America TV movies when they originally aired, although I did eventually pick up a VHS copy of Captain America II: Death Too Soon in the 90s, and I own the double feature DVD now. But I do remember that my friends who had seen them were very upset about the costume changes and revamped origin story. When I watched the two telefilms on DVD a while back, I personally found it difficult to get too worked up about either change (although the costume in the first movie was really bad!).

Yeah, they're silly movies and deviate substantially from Marvel Comics lore and legend, but they're entertainingly silly, and that's enough for me.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

July's Space Babe: Jean-Marie Hon

July's Space Babe is pretty Jean-Marie Hon, who co-starred in two Space: 1970 favorites: Ark II and Man From Atlantis. On the Saturday morning Filmation series, Ark II, Jean-Marie portrayed the youthful and idealistic scientist Ruth, who traveled a post-Holocaust America with her equally-idealistic companions Jonah, Samuel, and talking chimp, Adam, bringing technological and humanitarian aid to the scattered remnants of civilization. On Man From Atlantis, she was Jane, communications officer aboard the advanced research submarine, Cetacean, providing back-up support for aqua-mariner Mark Harris's undersea adventures.

I've been able to find out very little about the lovely Ms Hon online. She was born in 1955 in San Francisco, and acted on television from 1976 (Ark II) through 1985, appearing in TV movies and in guest shots on shows like Hawaii 5-0 and The Hardy Boys. According to what little I've been able to uncover in my Internet safaris, she retired from acting to raise a family and became a pharmacist. She appeared in the supplemental interview material on the Ark II DVD set from BCI a few years back, and still looked beautiful.

Monday, July 1, 2013


Let's kick off a new week (and month) with another vintage TV Guide ad, shall we?

I have very vivid memories of watching The Last Dinosaur when it premiered on American television back in 1977. I was quite enthralled with the plot, which posited a prehistoric jungle hidden in an Antarctic volcanic crater (I hadn't seen 1957's The Land Unknown then), and the Godzilla-styled, "suitmation" dinosaurs. Hell, I still dig the Rankin/Bass - Tsuburaya Productions co-production, and bought the movie a year or two back on Warner Archive's uncut DVD (reviewed HERE).