Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #158, September 1990: Darkman Cometh

Does Sam Raimi have much real competition for a fan-favorite genre director? George Lucas is in the pantheon, of course, but not uncontroversially so. Same with Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan and others. But Raimi not only has productions that were hits, he has a list of them that were just geek-out fun favorites. The Evil Dead. The Spider-Man films. The Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Zena: Princess Warrior TV series. And don’t forget Darkman, the Liam Neeson-starring film that came out of nowhere in 1990 to become a big hit.

What makes his fan favorites special is not just that they’re geek-bait and popular. He adds something to them that I don’t think other writers or directors would do. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but it seems something like a mixture of realism and humor and humanity that makes even a fairly standard story such as Darkman into something more, something that is remembered long after you leave the theater (or turn off the DVD player).

Raimi’s 1990 gem gets its due focus this month in Starlog.

Starlog #158
76 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.95

Unfortunately, there was a sequel to Darkman. There’s always a sequel.

The rundown: Liam Neeson’s bandaged Darkman face takes the cover shot this month; a Gremlin is featured on the contents page. The Communications letters include what looks like a form letter from Alien Nation actor Gary Graham calling for fans of his show to organize to save the program from its already-announced cancellation, plus other readers write in with the first salvos in the argument over what should happen in Star Trek VI, and some thoughful responses to Bruce Gordon’s article “The Return of the Other Marty McFly”; and David McDonnell’s Medialog gives the background to Alien Nation’s cancellation, involving the differing ratings expectations of the smaller Fox network vs. the Big Three.

Marc Shapiro interviews Flatliners director Joel Schumacher, who notes that it was not difficult to get stars William Baldwin, Oliver Platt, Kevin Bacon, Julia Roberts, and Kiefer Sutherland for his film: “We had people lining up around the block wanting to be in this movie”; David Hutchison’s Videolog column reports another Kevin Bacon film heading to video: Tremors; in probably the only Starlog article ever to include a photo of a cover of Playboy magazine, Marc Shapiro talks with Total Recall star Sharon Stone, who explains how Arnold Schwarzenegger “did little to cure Stone of her nervousness,” teasing her a lot – “In that jockstrap kind of world that Arnold lives in," she said, "I had become one of the guys” (maybe it was just Stockholm Syndrome); the Fan Network pages include a Darkman contest, a directory to fan organizations, and a convention calendar; Will Murray interviews another leading woman of Total Recall, Rachel Ticotin, who plays Melina in the film; and Bill Warren talks with the legendary Christopher Lee about Gremlins 2: The New Batch.

Peter Jensen contributes his first (and only?) article to Starlog with an interview with actress Frances McDormand about her role in Darkman, with a sidebar by Bill Warren talking with the film’s director, Sam Raimi; in his From the Bridge column, Kerry O’Quinn talks about Back to the Future and Total Recall, noting, “When I finish reading an SF novel, I often engage in lively discussions with friends about the book’s ideas – but when I leave most SF movies, discussion is usually limited to why I liked it and why my friends disliked it – reactions, not content.”; Kim Howard Johnson interviews RobocCop 2 director Irvin Kershner, who has little to say about his other pertinant films The Empire Strikes Back and Never Say Never Again; Jay Allen Sanford contributes his first article to Starlog with a chat with Russell Johnson, Gilligan Island’s professor and a veteran of a number of science-fiction/horror films such as It Came from Outer Space; Bill Warren profiles actor Henry Silva, who portrays a villain in Dick Tracy and who complains to Starlog about being typecast as a villain; Warren interviews another Dick Tracy villain, Pruneface – aka R.G. Armstrong; Eric Niderost talks with filmmaker Craig Baxley (I Come in Peace); novelist Joe Haldeman is interviewed by T.W. Knowles II and discusses The Forever War, The Hemingway Hoax, and more; and editor David McDonnell’s Liner Notes not only sports a photo of McDonnell with Christopher Lee, it also plugs a number of upcoming Starlog family magazines.
“The movie came from the idea of a man who can change his face to become other people. It was originally a short story I wrote, which was accepted with encouragement by friends. It segued into a longer story, and then became a story of a man who had lost his face and had to take on other faces. Then, it became the story of a man who battled criminals using this power. And then, because he lost his face, the idea of what would happen if he had a relationship before became important.”
–Sam Raimi, director, interviewed by Bill Warren: “Darkman Director”
To see more issues, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit The Starlog Project’s permanent home.
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