Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why Didn’t Sylvester Stallone Run for Governor? The Starlog Project, Starlog #196, November 1993

The 1980s and 1990s were the era of over-muscled heroes, from Douglas Quaid to Rambo to the Terminator. Brains were out, cartoonishly rippled chests and arms were in. And two actors ruled in this era.

There were pretenders, such as Dolf Lundgren. But the two actors who were consistent box office gold were Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. And, though I might not care for many of the pictures they starred in, certainly millions of others loved them and threw their money at any cinema showing the flicks. (Did Stallone and Schwarzenegger ever confront each other on screen? I don’t think so. But it would have been something to see.)

So they kept making the films. With 1993’s Demolition Man, Stallone takes the lead again, playing a police officer cryogenically frozen for several decades, who is awakened to find that the world has gotten stranger during his time asleep. The antagonist is Wesley Snipes, a criminal who was also frozen and thawed to provide some drama in 2032.

On page 29 of this issue of Starlog, a photo caption reads: “Death Race 2000 is Stallone’s only other SF venture up until Demolition Man. The future, however, holds quite a few more.” That would come true a year later with the release of Judge Dredd, the long-awaited but disappointing American film of the legendary UK comics.

Meanwhile, Demolition Man reportedly debuted at the box office in the #1 slot and went on to make almost three times its production cost.

Starlog #196
92 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $4.95

This classified ad on page 79 caught my eye: “SCI-FI + ROCK = AUDIO COMIX. Series on cassette. Buy one. $11.50. …” No, I still don’t have any idea what that equation means. Also this issue, the magazine advertises its latest licensed movie magazine: Jason Goes to Hell, featuring all of the gruesomeness horror fans need.

The rundown: Sylvester Stallone’s Demolition Man character takes up the cover shot, while a Joe Chiodo illustration of RoboCop controls the contents page. In his Medialog column, David McDonnell reports first news that Tom Cruise got the controversial call to portray the vampire Lestat in Interview with the Vampire. Has anyone told Anne Rice yet? Michael McAvennie’s Gamelog reviews Iron Helix, Acclaim’s Alien3, and more. Communications letters cover Star Trek, of course (including one writer who says that Star Trek: The Next Generation “is frequently a politically correct bore”), as well as The Abyss and Lost in Space, while Mike Fisher’s Creature Profile features an Invader from Venus. And Booklog reviews Virtual Light, Night of the Cooters, The Jaguar Princess, Retief and the Rascals, Camelot 30K, Dancer’s Rise, Icarus Descending, Manhattan Transfer, Greendaughter, Against a Dark Background, Hunty Party, Larissa, and On Basilisk Station.

Of course the Fan Network features the usual convention calendar and Scott Briggs’ directory of fan clubs and publications. David Hutchison’s Videolog includes Francis Ford Coppola’s movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula, plus other recent video releases. A two-page Tribute section includes Jean-Marc Lofficier’s obituary for publishing legend Lester Del Rey, and Tom Scherman remembers production designer Harper Goff, whose work includes Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and other classics. And Kerry O’Quinn’s From the Bridge column features a letter from novelist Simon R. Green talking about his early perserverence in becoming a successful author.

Marc Shapiro interviews actor Sylvester Stallone, who calls his new movie Demolition Man “a science fiction/action/comedy.” Kyle Counts talks with actor Richard Hatch, who – in 1993 – was just getting started trying to revive Battlestar Galactica. Joe Nazzaro chats with Red Dwarf star Robert Llewellyn, who also talks about his appearance in the ill-fated American pilot of the UK’s Red Dwarf.

Steven Spielberg, for all of his astounding successes at the movie box office, has never been a raging success on the small screen. His Amblin Entertainment would try again – with Spielberg as executive producer – on the submarine show seaQuest DSV (which, as I noted in an earlier writeup, was dubbed by one early critic as Voyage to the Bottom of the Ratings). Well, Bill Warren previews the new show; like all TV series preview articles, it’s filled with the actors and other creators making glowing, positive remarks about the show and telling you little of real insight or detail. A more successful sea voyage would be the 1993 Sea Trek cruise in the Caribbean, about which David Hutchison reports. A highlight of the trip – or at least an unexpected occurrence during the voyage – is the rescue of four Cuban refugees at sea.

On dry land, Ian Spelling interviews Trek’s Marina Sirtis, who describes how things might have been different if she had gotten the part for which she had originally auditioned: the security chief (eventually played by Denise Crosby). David Hirsch profiles composer Basil Poledouris, who discusses his work on RoboCop, Conan the Barbarian, and other films. Mark Phillips brings us back to the water with an interview of Allan Hunt, who portrayed Stu Riley in one season of Irwin Allen’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. (See? This entire issue is connected.) Ian Spelling also talked to Sigourney Weaver about Alien3, which she discusses in a one-page article. She admits that the film “was sort of a downer” but defends it as a brave attempt to continue making each Alien film different than the previous ones. And editor David Hutchison wraps it all up in his Liner Notes column with a report on his trip to Australia, where he did not pick up any Cuban refugees.
“Trying to generate renewed interest in Battlestar, either as a theatrical feature or as a three-parter for the Sci-Fi Channel … Hatch has written a script that picks up where the original Battlestar left off. … ‘It ties up all the loopholes and puts the characters on track to finding their home. My story tells what that journey would really be like, rather than suddenly having them find Earth, which is what they did in Galactica 1980. [While Hatch was offered a role in that incarnation of the saga, he turned it down due to work conflicts.] I think they threw the premise away and turned it into a gimmicky show. The original series had a much different mystical, profound quality to it,’ Hatch observes.”
–Kyle Counts, writer: “Life Beyond the Battlestars”
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