Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #131, June 1988: Weeping Willow

Sometimes magazine editors make something out of nothing – anything – if it’ll help highlight stuff in the magazine. Last issue, remember, was dubbed a “science-fiction comedy” special, even though you kind of had to search hard, maybe squint, to find much comedy-themed articles in the issue. This month, there are three people interviewed separately from the same family: actors Dan O’Herlihy and his son Gavan O’Herlihy, plus Dan’s brother director Michael O’Herlihy, so the interviews are run one after another with the same headline design. As editor David McDonnell notes in his editorial, “this may be the first time in 130-odd issues that we’ve profiled three members of the same family in the same Starlog.”

Not the most scintillating item, but you do what you can to create excitement where there is none. Kind of like me highlighting it at the top of this issue writeup as if it’s the most interesting thing about this issue. Life is funny like that.

Starlog #131
76 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.50

My favorite photo caption of the issue: “The main difference between this spirit story and Topper is that in Beetlejuice, the ghosts don’t change their clothes. Barbara Maitland (David) does don an old wedding gown, but it’s not a pretty sight.” Second favorite caption: “What Colin Wilson intended for Princess Aura (Omelia Muti) and the bore-worms in his uncredited rewrite of Flash Gordon was far more erotic than Kala’s (Mariangela Melato) S&M tactics.”

The rundown: The cover is taken over by General Kael (Patrick Roach), baddie from Willow; speaking of which, in his From the Bridge column, publisher Kerry O’Quinn is more bullish on the movie than audiences will turn out to be, and he relates a chat he had with George Lucas about Willow and why he wanted to make a film starring little people. The entire Communications letters is devoted to belated feedback on Superman IV detractors (they hated it), except for one lone letter writer who claims it “was a terrific movie.” In the Medialog section, Will Murray reports that Sylvester Stallone will be making a film based on The Punisher books, there are photos of upcoming movies Twins and Hot to Trot (both destined to be mysteriously overlooked by the Academy), and David McDonnell reports the latest genre media headlines, such as news that Cocoon II is on the way.

Mick Garris, previously a film publicist and a journalist (including a contributor to Starlog and Fangoria), graduated to filmmaking, so to preview his upcoming directorial effort Critters 2, the editors have him write humorous captions for a three-page photo spread on the film; Michael J. Wolff chimes in with a retrospective on the 1960s’ TV series The Invaders; Steve Swires completes his two-part interview with “Superman’s Pal: Jack Larson”; Howard Gordon, executive story consultant for Beauty and the Beast, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the writing chores on that series; Kathryn M. Drennan interviews Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Jonathan Frakes, who tells her that he was hired because Gene Roddenberry saw a “Machiavellian glint” in his eye that reminded him of himself; the Fan Network pages include a zillion convention listings, plus Kara Rothman on a Star Trek-supported charity bike ride, an unbylined item on Star Trek designers, and a reader’s query answered (“Whatever happened to the sequel to Godzilla 1985?”).

Adam Pirani interviews Willow actor and coverboy Patrick Roach; Sandy Robertson provides a Q&A with novelist Colin Wilson about The Space Vampires (aka Lifeforce), Flash Gordon, and more; Carr D’Angelo talks with actress Geena Davis about her work in The Fly and Beetlejuice; Christine Menefee checks in with Starman TV star Robert Hays; Mickie Singer-Werner interviews novelist Nancy Springer (The Sable Moon, Mindbond, etc.); David Hutchison’s Videolog notes video releases of shrunken men – specifically, The Incredible Shrinking Man and Innerspace – among others; Eric Niderost interviews Dan O’Herlihy, the “Old Man” of RoboCop; Edward Gross profiles Michael O’Herlihy, veteran TV director, who’s not too star-struck of the shows he worked on, such as the original Star Trek, Logan’s Run, and Man from Atlantis (“a bit silly”); Adam Pirani completes the O’Herlihy family album with an interview of Willow actor Gavan O’Herlihy; and David McDonnell’s Liner Notes column shares his deep inner pain over some humorous typos.
“[A.E. van Vogt] is one of the few [SF writers] I really do admire, and that’s because Van, like me, is always interested in the idea of the superman. His story “Asylum” was a big influence on Space Vampires, the interesting thing being that the hero in that story suddenly realized at the end that he isn’t who he thinks he is. His memory has been erased so that the telepathic vampires in the story won’t be able to read his mind and discover that he’s after them. It’s only at the climax, he realizes who he is and that he can destroy the vampires. This idea of people being supermen under the surface has always fascinated me. I’ve always felt that this is true of human beings – in our best moments, we do the most amazing things, yet we don’t realize we have these capacities within ourselves.”
–Colin Wilson, novelist, interviewed by Sandy Robertson: “Spinning the Writer’s Web: Colin Wilson”
To read previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.
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