Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #156, July 1990: Total Recall of Total Recall

Genre fan favorite J. Michael Straczynski is writing the screenplay for the big-screen remake of the classic science-fiction film Forbidden Planet. There’s always a good reason for being skeptical about remakes, especially when the original is highly regarded. I mean, 1980’s Super Fuzz? Go ahead and remake it. Saturn 3? Make it anew! Big Trouble in Little China? Can’t do any worse. But keep your mitts off of Blade Runner, The Empire Strikes Back, and Time Bandits.

The part of this that should give one hope is that it’s Straczynski, the man behind the five-year novel-for-television Babylon 5. Based on that (hey, anyone who brings Harlan Ellison aboard as a consultant has some integrity going for him), I think people can have faith that he will not debase the story for the studios.

In this issue of Starlog, the classic original Forbidden Planet is given a three-article treatment, including an interview with the great Leslie Nielsen, star of the film. It’s a pretty fine treatment to give to a movie from the 1950s, but then again, few films from the 1950s laid the groundwork for much of the genre cinema that would follow, the way Forbidden Planet did.

Starlog #156
100 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $4.95

This 100-page, 14th anniversary issue is another example of why I liked Starlog’s 100-page special issues so much. It’s full of articles on classics (as in Forbidden Planet), recently deceased (as in Starman), and the new, such as Total Recall. That last film is another adaptation of a Philip K. Dick short story; though it was not as good or as trend-setting as Blade Runner, it was still a huge movie and one of the big ones that helped establish Arnold Schwarzenegger as a major box-office draw.

By the way, on page 88, Starlog announces that it will be publishing the official movie magazine for Total Recall.

The rundown: The Schwarzenmeister himself, Arnold, is on the cover in his Total Recall Doug Quaid guise; meanwhile, the contents page features a big photo from the upcoming Warren Beatty Dick Tracy film. Communications letters comment on Quantum Leap and Robin of Sherwood, delve into Star Trek trivia, and praise the television incarnation of Alien Nation; speaking of TV, David McDonnell’s Medialog announces a new TV series version of Harry and the Hendersons, plus other news; David Hutchison’s Videolog column gives the scoop on the video releases of the first two Back to the Future films (BTTF II is only $92.95 on VHS – yes, you read that correctly), plus others; and the Fan Network pages include an extensive list of various fan clubs and publications, plus the convention calendar.

Michael Dorn, who portrays the Klingon Worf in Star Trek: the Next Generation, tells interviewer David McDonnell that the scene with Worf having a tea party with Dr. Pulaski (in “Up the Long Ladder”) was good for developing the character’s story; Bill Warren interviews actor Leslie Nielsen, who was long known for playing serious roles (such as Commander Adams in Forbidden Planet) but who later carved out an even higher-profile career playing comedic roles; Tom and Jon Weaver share a byline for a talk with actor Richard Anderson, another Forbidden Planet veteran and later the man of authority on The Six Million Dollar Man; Lynne Stevens takes a look at Return to the Forbidden Planet, a sort-of Shakespearan stage rock musical version of the classic (so, if I were being exact, then J. Michael Straczynski’s version would really be the second remake, not the first); Marc Shapiro talks with Back to the Future III writer/producer Bob Gale; and Bill Warren interviews Gremlins-maker Joe Dante, who quips that if Gremlins was “like It’s a Wonderful LIfe Meets The Birds,” then the sequel is “The Gremlins’ New York Adventure to be sure, and I suppose you could say it’s Executive Suite with Gremlins.”

Will Murray interviews Arnold Schwarzenegger about his role in Total Recall; a two-page photo feature highlights some of the colorful scenes from Dick Tracy; Will Murray continues his two-part interview with author Philip Jose Farmer, who explains that he contributed ideas to the original Star Trek TV series, but those ideas were never used because Gene Roddenberry judged them to be too complex for his imagined audience – a housewife in Iowa – to understand; David Hutchison visits Disney’s Splash Mountain; Kyle Counts profiles actor Miles O’Keeffe about co-starring in Tarzan, The Ape Man with Bo Derek; Charles J. Lietwiler provides a long episode guide to the short-lived Starman TV series; in his From the Bridge column, Kerry O’Quinn writes about the space documentary For All Mankind; and editor David McDonnell explores the similarities between Gilligan’s Island and Star Trek in his Liner Notes column.
Forbidden Planet was, I think, the forerunner of all good science fiction films. It could very easily have been the pilot for Star Trek, which is intriguing, because I never was called to do a Star Trek. I know William Shatner, and Jimmy Doohan is a very dear friend of mine. I know Gene Roddenberry and have great respect for him. And if Forbidden Planet had anything to do with Star Trek, I can understand it, because Forbidden Planet still plays every year.”
–Leslie Nielsen, actor, interviewed by Bill Warren: “Tales of the Naked Planet”
To see more issues, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit The Starlog Project’s permanent home.


Franco Macabro said...

Total Recall was all the buzz that summer, I remember vividly seeing it in theaters and being blow away by it. That was the summer of Dick Tracya and Robocop 2...loved that summer.

Again, sorry to sound like a broken record, but I had all these magazines and spent hours upon hours reading them, its awesome to revisit them in this way, since I lost track of these magazines across time. I think I might have discarded them....sadly!

jzipperer said...

Thanks for the comment. It's kinda funny that I started this issue's writeup by talking about the remake of Forbidden Planet. Right after I posted the article, I did some further quick Google searches and, sure enough, there's a remake of Total Recall underway.

I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. It sounds like they're going to radically change it (no Mars in the remake, and of course no Schwarzenegger).