Sunday, August 7, 2016

Happy 40th Anniversary, STARLOG!

Ahh... this stunning cover painting of Star Trek's Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock by Jack Thurston graced the first issue of Starlog magazine, back in August, 1976. Which means that this month marks 40(!) years since the debut of the 70's greatest science fiction media periodical, a magazine that was literally my bible for two decades.

(Actually, as former Starlog honcho David McDonnell points out in the comments below, the first issue actually went on sale in June of that Bicentennial year. I stand corrected. Still... better late than never!)

Starlog not only kept me informed of new and upcoming genre films and television, but opened my mind to the classic (and not-so-classic) productions of the past. It was in the pages of Starlog that I first discovered the films of George Pal, the television series of Irwin Allen, and the original Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon movie serials. It fed my insatiable hunger for behind-the-scenes information on special effects and gave me countless cool photographs of miniature spaceships and alien monster to obsess over.

Yeah, Starlog was an important part of my formative years... in many ways, the biggest part.

In retrospect, maybe I should have called this site Starblog...?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Captain's bLog: 0718.16

Return Of The Blogger:  Wow. I haven't posted a "Captain's bLog" entry since November, 2014. Of course, I haven't posted to the blog much at all for the last couple of years, though I've never completely abandoned it. Working on this blog has always been a labor of love for me, but after six years of fairly regular posting, it eventually became a bit harder to justify the time I spent on the blog.

There are a number of reasons for this; most prominently, I've been spending more of my time on my comic book writing. Time and energy spent writing posts about Battlestar Galactica, Planet Of The Apes, Ark II and The Incredible Hulk was time I wasn't spending on writing comic book scripts, publisher pitches or short stories.

Additionally, a couple years back, my state lawmakers made it so that I could no longer earn money through Amazon referrals, and while I never made significant cubits that way, the payments that I did receive at least helped amortize the time spent on 70s sci-fi nostalgia. Every once in a while, generous readers made donations to the site, and I always tried to pay back their kindness with extra content, but such contributions were few and far between.

I also had some discouraging feedback that undercut my enthusiasm for retro blogging, such as a fairly vicious comment thread on Reddit where my passion for this subject matter was savaged and I was accused of being a sexist monster for the "Space Babes" feature. Perhaps I shouldn't have, but I took it personally.

Still, as I mentioned before, I never completely abandoned this blog, posting occasionally when the mood struck or I found something cool I really wanted to share, or had a relevant news item to post.

Ultimately, I'm still here... and I'm pondering ways to increase the frequency of updates here on the blog and ways to refresh and "reboot" the site. I'm considering opening the blog up to occasional "guest posts" from other Star Kids (if you're interested, drop me a line at atomicpulp@gmail.com), and will probably start posting capsule reviews of the few Space: 1970-era television shows that still are not commercially available in the U.S., like Project U.F.O. and The Fantastic Journey. Look for more "Fave Fives" and "Hall of Fame" posts, as well.

Justifying my time on the blog (and, thus, away from my other writing) is still a concern, but I received a very generous donation from a Space: 1970 fan this weekend, so I'll be making a sincere effort to publish more frequent blog updates throughout August and September.

Sometime soon, look for a review of a rarely-seen 1981 fantasy telefilm and a new "Fave fives" post.

Thanks to all of you who haven't given up on Space: 1970. Your patience and support is appreciated.

Shameless plug: Perils On Planet X in print!  Over the past few years, I've occasionally mentioned my comic, Perils On Planet X. Originally serialized online, the entire, three-issue pulp space opera miniseries was officially published earlier this year under my own Atomic Pulp imprint, and is now available in print via mail order from IndyPlanet.

Each issue is 32 full-color pages, printed on high-quality, heavy paper stock. All three issues are also available as digital downloads, for those who prefer to read comics electronically.

If you're a fan of stuff like John Carter of Mars, Flash Gordon or Blackstar, you might enjoy Perils.  It's got monsters, rayguns, jetpacks, swordplay, sexy lady sky pirates, and a beautiful space princess. I'd appreciate it if you checked it out.

Space: 1970 Wants You: I've always been open to - and grateful for - submissions from my readers. Now I want to outright encourage you folks to send me any cool Space: 1970-era stuff you might think would be interesting to your fellow Star Kids. Rare photos and production art, behind-the-scenes stills, nominations for "Space Babes" or Reader Polls, pretty much anything, really. Hell, even if you'd like to write a Guest Post, just e-mail me. I'll do my best to credit any contributions I use, of course.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS (1978) Press Stills

This weekend, we've got a handful of press photos from the 1978 John Dark-Kevin Connor adventure fantasy, Warlords Of Atlantis, starring stalwart Doug McClure and lovely Lea Brodie.

While it's not my favorite of the Dark/Connor/McClure epics, I do enjoy revisiting it once a year or so. It's not based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel this time, but the filmmakers follow the same basic formula, and have added some highly imaginative touches of their own. The creature effects are low-tech fun, and, the rapid pace and slightly tongue-in-cheek tone makes for another entertaining Saturday matinee adventure.

It's too bad that it's still not readily available on home video in the U.S.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

News: MESSAGE FROM SPACE (1978) Blu-ray Available For Pre-Order

Shout! Factory has announced that it will be releasing a high-definition Blu-ray edition of Kinji Fukasaku's 1978 epic Message From Space in September. This is a limited edition release - only 1,000 copies will be made - and it's available for pre-order now, exclusively through the Shout! website.

This is the U.S. English-language version, and the only bonus features are the trailer and a still gallery. It's a little pricey for my budget, but I've already pre-ordered my copy. I love this movie, space fireflies, magic walnuts and all.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

News: THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME (1979) Blu-ray Details Announced

Proving that even movies that are generally considered to be bad ones can still get some high-def love, Blue Underground has announced details for its upcoming Blu-ray release of George McCowan's sci-fi adventure film The Shape of Things to Come (1979), starring Jack Palance, Carol Lynley, Barry Morse, John Ireland, Eddie Benton, and Nicholas Campbell. The release, originally scheduled for late August, has been slightly delayed (due to the adding of additional bonus features), and will now be available for purchase on September 27.

As I've stated here many times before, I rather enjoy this film, regardless of its weaknesses. All it takes are a few miniature spaceships and a robot or two to make this Star Kid happy.

So, I'm pleased that Blue Underground has put together such a cool release and am looking forward to having this Blu-ray on my shelf next to Battlestar Galactica, Battle Beyond The Stars and Starcrash!

Synopsis: Planet Earth is a devastated wasteland, and what's left of humanity has colonized the Moon in domed cities. Humanity's continued survival depends on an anti-radiation drug only available on planet Delta Three, which has been taken over by Omus, a brilliant but mad mechanic who places no value on human life. Omus wants to come to the Moon to rule and intends to attack it by ramming robot-controlled spaceships into the domes. Dr. John Caball, his son Jason, Jason's friend, Kim, and a robot named Sparks embark on Caball's space battlecruiser on an unauthorized mission to Delta Three to stop Omus.

Special Features:
  • Jason's Journey - New interview with Star Nicholas Campbell
  • Symphonies In Space - New interview with Composer Paul Hoffert
  • French Trailer
  • TV Spot
  • Poster & Still Gallery
  • Pressbook Gallery
Tech Specs:
  • Audio Specs: English 5.1 DTS-HD & DTS-HD Mono
  • Optional Subtitles: English SDH, Français, Español
  • All Regions
The Shape of Things To Come Blu-ray is now available for pre-order through Amazon and other online retailers.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Remembering QUESTAR Magazine

Another Starlog wannabe, MW Communications' Questar ran for 13 issues between the Spring of 1978 and October, 1981. Originally a semi-pro fanzine covering SF fandom with original fiction, the magazine received national newsstand distribution with its 7th issue, and shifted emphasis toward the sort of science fiction film and TV coverage seen in magazines like Starlog and Fantastic Films.

Though slickly produced and nicely art-directed, Questar was editorially inconsistent and uninspired, with considerable sub-par writing. Still, it did include some good interviews with noted SF authors (and personalities like Forrest J. Ackerman), and even a comic strip or two.

I rarely saw Questar on local newsstands, but I'm pretty sure that I do have a couple of issues stashed away somewhere....

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Official BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Scrapbook (1978)

One of several Galactica book tie-ins from 1978, James Neyland's Official Battlestar Galactica Scrapbook was a reasonably in-depth look at the making of the "Saga Of A Star World" pilot film, and featured tons of cool stills from the show (including an 8-page "cosmic color" photo insert).

The book includes interviews with Glen Larson, John Dykstra, costume designer Jean-Pierre Dorleac, and pilot director Richard Colla, as well as extensive background on all the major cast members and the characters they portrayed.

There's a lot of stuff crammed into its 104 pages, but the one note that always stuck in my head was the revelation that the much-derided Colonial motorcycles seen in the Galactica: 1980 spin-off were actually planned to be part of the heroes' land transportation "fleet" as early as the planning of the pilot!

I still have my copy of this book sitting on my film/TV reference shelves, although it is, admittedly, a bit scuffed and dented after all these years.

(Yes, I have mentioned this book here on the blog before, but thought it worth revisiting.)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

PROJECT U.F.O. (1978) TV Guide Ad

Here's NBC's TV Guide advertisement for the premiere episode of legendary producer Jack Webb's Project U.F.O. (and if you remember the program being called anything else, you're mistaken. Trust me, we've investigated it exhaustively.)

I'm thinking of maybe publishing episode-by-episode capsule reviews of the show (and, possibly, The Fantastic Journey, as well). Is there any interest in that?

Friday, May 27, 2016

News: THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT (1977) on Blu-ray

The sequel to American-International's Doug McClure lost world epic, The Land That Time Forgot, 1977's equally epic The People That Time Forgot, is now available on Blu-ray in the U.S., courtesy of Kino-Lorber & Scorpion Releasing. It hit store shelves on Tuesday and I picked up mine yesterday.

The Blu-ray features a very colorful and detailed 16x9 widescreen transfer of the John Dark-produced fantasy film and it looks quite spectacular. Bonus features include an audio commentary by director Kevin Connor and filmmaker Brian Trenchard-Smith, on-camera interviews with actresses Sarah Douglas and Dana Gillespie, and trailers for both this film and its precursor.

It's a very fine presentation all around and highly recommended for fans of the John Dark-Kevin Connor adventure series.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS (1977) Bendable Alien

There wasn't a whole lot of Close Encounters merchandise released to tie-in with Steven Spielberg's UFO epic - a novelization, a Warren souvenir magazine, a few other odds and ends - at least, not compared to other sci-fi blockbusters of the era, and certainly not a lot merch aimed at kids.

One exception was this cheerful extraterrestrial "bendy" from rack toy specialists Imperial. All things considered, it's a pretty fair likeness of CE3K's featured alien, goofy smile and all.

Friday, April 29, 2016

News: THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME (1979) Coming to Blu-ray this Summer

On August 30th, video label Blue Underground will be releasing director George McCowan's 1979 Canadian space opera, The Shape Of Things To Come on Blu-ray disc.

Although frequently cited as among the worst of the 70s Star Wars rip-offs, I have admitted here on this site more than once a certain fondness for the low budget interstellar "epic," and I am looking forward to having a high definition edition on my shelves next to Battle Beyond The Stars and Starcrash.

Yeah, it's a pretty dumb movie, but I find it kinda charming in its low budget ineptitude. I like the cast, which includes Space: 1999's Barry Morse, and Buck Rogers veterans Jack Palance and Eddie Benton (a/k/a Anne-Marie Martin) and I also enjoy the miniature effects, which are surprisingly decent for such a cheap production.

The Shape Of Things To Come Blu-ray can be pre-ordered now through online retailers such as Amazon.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Happy Birthday, Colonel!

And speaking of bionics (as we were in the last post), today marks the 77th birthday of the original Six Million Dollar Man, Lee Majors! Colonel Steve Austin is still - and will forever be - our favorite cyborg secret agent!