Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Thing

In issue 14 (June 1978) of Starlog is this article about a remake of The Thing:

William F. Nolan, co-author of Logan's Run, award winning script writer of Burnt Offerings, has been signed by Universal to script a "remake" of the old Howard Hawkes horror-classic, The Thing. "This won't be just a rehash," Nolan said. "I'm going back to the original story, Who Goes There? by Campbell to utilize many values which were ignored the first time around." Nolan's thing won't be a walking talking carrot!

The Things remake eventually did happen, but not until 1982 under the direction of John Carpenter. The William F. Nolan screenplay was not used, instead it was written by Bill Lancaster, the son of actor Burt Lancaster. It interesting to note that his only other writing credits are for the Bad News Bears movies and TV show.

If you are interested in reading the Nolan screenplay it has been published in a book along with John W. Campell’s novella “Who Goes There?” which is the basis for both the original The Thing and the 1982 remake. According to this message board post from the publisher, the Nolan version of the screenplay emphasized the paranoia elements of the story and downplayed the creature/horror elements. I could definitely see a movie like this being very compelling, but I also think the bizarre and sometimes disturbing creature effects used in the remake really make it a great movie.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Empire Strikes Back Rumors


In issue 31 of Starlog (Feb 1980) there was an article summarizing the various rumors that were floating around about The Empire Strikes Back. Lets take a look at how accurate they were.

What was right

  • Obi-Wan will be in Empire.
  • Obi-Wan will appear as an ephemeral shape that one can faintly see through.
  • On the ice planet Hoth the Rebels are attacked by Stormtroopers.
  • There will be a new character named Lando Calrissian who might be good or might be bad.
  • Lando is an old friend of Han and actually sold him the Falcon. (He didn’t sell it, but close enough)
  • New bad guy named Boba Fett who is a bounty hunter.
  • Boba Fett will be played by one actor and voiced by another.
  • The Emperor will make an appearance.
  • The movie concludes with a fierce light saber duel between Luke and Vader.
  • Vader is Luke’s father. (Spoiler!)
  • We will see Vader without his mask. (Sort of, from behind)
  • Stop motion animation will be used more extensively in Empire.

What was sort of right

  • Chewie is taken prisoner on Hoth and Han must rescue him. Another variation of the rumors says Han is is taken prisoner. (The taken prisoner part was right, they just got the details wrong)
  • Han has a light saber duel with Vader towards the end of the movie. (They just got the character wrong)
  • Boba is a remnant of the old Imperial Shocktroopers. (This isn’t to far off, but we don’t learn this in Empire)
  • Boba was not a Shocktrooper but merely adopted their uniform. (Also sort of true, but again we don’t learn this in Empire).
  • Boba Fett works for which ever side pays him he most and he plays both sides when he can get away with it. (Definitely in character for Boba but this doesn’t happen in Empire)
  • Ben killed Luke’s father. (True, from a certain point of view)
  • “Princess Leia is captured by Stormtroopers and delivered to Darth Vader who, by use of the Force, seduces her into betraying Luke and Han.” (Leia is captured and used to lure Luke, so this isn’t completely wrong)

What was wrong

  • Only Obi-Wan’s disembodied voice will be in Empire.
  • Han Solo is killed.
  • Mark Hamill doesn’t want to be in Star Wars 3 (Jedi) so Luke is killed.
  • Obi-Wan will appear in flashbacks.
  • The Emperor will be played by Orson Wells or Christopher Lee.
  • Ben is Luke’s father.
  • We learn in Empire why Vader wears a mask.
  • “On a jungle planet, where Luke and Han are seeking allies against the Empire, the two enlist a race of winged aliens called the Quarrels.”
  • “The Rebels visit three different planets in Empire, and there are different races of intelligent creatures on each one.” or “The Rebels visit three different planets, but none have indigenous sentient life.” (They did visit three planets, Hoth, Bespin and Dagobah but neither of these descriptions is accurate.)
  • “Through the use of the Force, Luke persuades Darth Vader of the error of his ways and convinces him to enlist with the Rebels against the Empire.”

What was just plain out there

  • “Luke and C-3PO are captured by a horrendous alien (stop-motion animated, the story goes) who dumps them into a tank-like prison filled with a breathable liquid. The only way the alien can be killed (shades of Dracula) is to drive a metal stake through his heart. The only metal around, unfortunately, is C-3PO; and Luke melts the 'droid down to fabricate the weapon.”
  • “The Millennium Falcon falls into a black hole—with Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie and Darth Vader aboard—and travels through time.”
  • “The special-effects team at Industrial Light and Magic, near San Francisco, have been working on an experimental process that uses holography and makes it possible for an image of the Millennium Falcon to fly off the screen and up the projection beam.”
  • “In their travels, Luke, Leia and Han en-counter a female villain, a sort of ‘Queen of Outer Space’ “
  • “Relating vaguely to that black hole rumor, it is said that Han Solo and Chewie land on a desert planet where they meet time travelers from Earth's 13th century who are trying to fight off Stormtroopers with catapults and crossbows.” (Of course the “fight off Stormtroopers with catapults and crossbows” sort of came true in Jedi)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013



From Issue 3 (January 1977) comes this piece of news:


Saul David— who brought us Logan's Run— is hard at work on a new film, Timescape, which is being scripted by David and Simon Wincelberg— to be filmed here and in England (if early plans pan out) in 1977. The story is "a contemporary adventure drama dealing with the dimensions of time as it relates to events of the past and future." Saul David said the movie will contain some of the elements of Logan's Run but will be "farther out, intellectually."

A quote from Shimon Wincelbreg (Shimon is his real name, but he did sometimes write under the name Simon) in this article by John Kenneth Muir confirmed that this project never went anywhere:

"Saul [David] and I were working on an MGM project that never got made, Timescape. He asked me to write for Logan's Run, so I came up with a story."

It’s a shame nothing ever came of this because Shimon was a fairly prolific TV writer, and wrote for quite a few sci-fi series including Lost in Space, the original Star Trek, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and the Logan’s Run TV series.