Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #167, June 1991: Hulk Hogan Conquers Starlog

Professional wrestler Hulk Hogan gets a cover spot this issue. He was one of the first big wrestlers to make the transition to other forms of entertainment (he’s the one who didn’t become governor of Minnesota).

Though this does bring to mind the early 1980’s jokey flirtation with professional wrestling in the pages of sister magazine Fangoria, it’s really nothing more than Starlog looking to sell some more copies at the newsstand with a big name. Still, editor David McDonnell notes in his editorial, “I never expected to put Hulk Hogan on the cover of Starlog. ... Here’s the truth of the matter: We had six cover possibilities. Then, two of the movies were rescheduled for later release. Two other interviews were delayed so they would happen after we absolutely had to go to press. And the TV movie perversely offered sparse pickings when it came to color photos. Which left the space comedy spoof. And it had these terrific pix of the alien monster created by Steve Johnson. So ...”

I’ll just note that Starlog’s publishing company at this time was also publishing a handful of professional wrestling magazines (Ringside Wrestling, Wrestling All-Stars, etc.), which reportedly at one time controlled more than 50 percent of the wrestling magazine market.

Starlog #167
80 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $4.50

On the inside front cover is an advertisement for The Rocketeer, which I mention only because I’m sure none of you even knew this movie existed. I saw it. Twice, I think. But I think my two tickets were the sole box office revenue earned by that film. But it’s a charming little adventure film that never got a Starlog cover story (yeah, that's right, Suburban Commando’s on the cover and Rocketeer got nada – it still hurts). But the Starlog team did do the movie justice with its sister magazine, Comics Scene, where it got a cover story (for the August 1991 issue, #20).

The rundown: Hulk Hogan’s Suburban Commando is on the cover (does that monster look to you like a Predator gone horribly wrong?); a Gremlins photo (sans any Gremlins) is featured on the contents page. The Communications section includes a letter from writer Jerome Bixby, who corrects an impression left by his interview in #164 and notes that Paramount turned down his sequel to his “Mirror, Mirror” episode of original Star Trek, plus readers comment on everything from First Men in the Moon to Beauty & the Beast to plans for the Sci Fi Channel, plus Mike Fish features the Body Snatchers in his Creature Profile comic; in his Medialog column, David McDonnell reports that Star Trek VI will indeed finally be made, but the declining box office of the films plus the aging cast “make it all but certain ... that this will be the last Star Trek film with the classic cast”; in his Videolog column, David Hutchison notes such recent genre releases as Predator 2, The Jungle Book, and Hooray for Horrorwood; and the Fan Network pages include Lia Pelosi’s directory of fan clubs and publications, plus the convention calendar.

It’s a sad day in science-fictionland, as Starlog devotes four pages to a Tribute section of obituaries: Lee Goldberg on James Bond screenwriter Richard Maibaum, Pat Jankiewicz on Beetlejuice and Top Gun screenwriter Warren Skaaren, Michael Mallory on stuntman and actor Tom Steele, Dan Scapperotti on actor Henry Brandon (Drums of Fu Manchu, The Searchers, Buck Rogers, and other classics), and Bill Warren on actor Keye Luke (most recently the mysterious merchant in the Gremlins movies, but perhaps most famously the “Number One Son” Lee Chan from the old Charlie Chan series); and in his From the Bridge column, Kerry O’Quinn gives an amusing account of his decision to take motorcycle lessons.

Adam Pirani interviews actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, who portrays Maid Marian in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves (and who also discusses her less-than-enjoyable time acting in James Cameron’s The Abyss); Craig W. Chrissinger talks with fantasy writer Jennifer Robertson (Sword Breaker, The Song of Homana, etc.); Mark Burman profiles actor Patrick Bergin, who plays the lead in the TV movie The Adventures of Robin Hood (with a sidebar on the movie’s director, John Irvin); Bill Warren pens the cover story, a preview of the Hulk Hogan space comedy Suburban Commando; Karen Funk Blocher and Teresa Murray check in with former Doctor Who star Jon Pertwee, who tells a tale of the travails of working on that ultra-low-budget series, and in the process lifts the covers on British class warfare: “Due to budgetary considerations, high production values weren’t always in evidence – even with as fundamental a prop as the TARDIS console. According to Pertwee, the console once had to be altered for a scene in which he was to remove and replace a component. A man was sent to the set, armed with hammer and chisel. ‘Where do you want the hole, guv?’ the workman said. Pertwee indicated the appropriate place in the console, and advised the man to be careful. ‘Right,’ the man said, and struck the chisel. The blow sent a huge crack across the console panel, splitting it. ‘So, I hit him,’ Perwee says. But there was retribution. ‘All the unions immediately went out on strike. Fortunately, the producer backed me up.’”

Tom Weaver has a hat trick this issue, with three articles on the Creature from the Black Lagoon and its sequels – he interviews actress Julie Adams, who played the femme fatale in the original movie (and who notes that, despite enjoying her movie, “I didn’t really want to be in the sequels, to tell you the truth. So, I was happy that they didn’t come to me anyway”; he also talks with Ricou Browning, “the extraordinary swimmer who donned the scaly foam rubber suit of the Creature from the Black Lagoon” and who actually enjoyed working in the sequel; and he also talks with actress Lori Nelson, who was the femme fatale of Revenge of the Creature (plus a short sidebar on the late Leigh Snowden, the female lead of The Creature Walks Among Us); and David McDonnell’s Liner Notes column includes his smack my forehead why did I put Hulk Hogan on the cover comments, plus he notes some minor design changes to the magazine (such as spiffing up the department logos and moving around the glossy and non-glossy pages, as noted last issue).
“[The Abyss producers] also have this kind of autocratic way of filming – and I would like to say to all producers, ‘You hired me, you didn’t buy me. I have a right to know what my schedule is,’ and I do have that right because I haven’t actually signed over – because you do feel that after a while, you’ve actually signed over your free will, your time is not your own. They gave us one day a week off, but we stood for hour after hour after hour, and for days on end, and couldn’t leave this small town, because, ‘Well, we don’t know when we’ll need you.' ... I just think there are friendlier environments, and there’s a kind of a maturity in dealing with other people.”
–Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, actress, interviewed by Adam Pirani: “Princess of Thieves”
To see more, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit The Starlog Project’s permanent home.

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