Tag Archives: Starlog

Back to the Future: The Other Marty McFly Theorem

November 10th, 1990, a red-letter date in my personal fandom of the Back to the Future franchise. Yes!  Of course!  November 10th, 1990!  That was the day I discovered my first time travel loophole in the Back to the Future movie trilogy continuity.  I remember it vividly.  I was sitting on the edge of my toilet reading a copy of Starlog, there was an entry in the letters column complaining about BTTF 3, I freaked out as my dad came into the bathroom, yelled at him to knock first, and when I went back to flipping through the magazine I had a revelation!  A vision!  A picture in my head!  A picture of two DeLoreans existing in 1885 simultaneously!  This is what makes time travel movies implausible: loopholes!  In all seriousness, the events described previously actually happened, I was in the bathroom reading the letters column in an issue of Starlog when I had a moment of clarity and realized that there are actually two DeLoreans in BTTF 3 at a point in the story when they desperately need another time machine.  Stop me if you’ve heard this.  So at the end of BTTF 2 Doc and the time machine get struck y lightning and sent back to 1885.  Doc hides the DeLorean in a cave for Marty to find while he’s stuck in 1955 (he gets that nifty telegram delivered moments after Doc is whisked away to alert him of this.)  So Marty find the 1950′s Doc, they uncover the DeLorean and fix it up (because of the years worth of dry rot to the tires, etc.)  Marty then takes this one back to 1885.  So here’s the thing.  The one that doc hid in the cave?  It’s obviously still there (it would have to be for Marty to find it in 1955.)  Thus two DeLoreans and no need to make some time traveling train.  My 13 year-old mind was blown.

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Over the years I’ve realized that this isn’t a huge revelation, if only because I’ve become more jaded as I age and would be the first person to point out that with all the twists and turns of the 2nd and third BTTF films there were bound to be plot-holes.  Time Travel is a fickle story element that is nearly impossible to “get right”.  Hell, just consider the two DeLoreans.  Just using the basic logic of time travel, though the two can co-exist in the same time, there are special rules for say using parts of one to fix the other.  If you took a part off the one Doc hid in the cave to fix the one Marty brought back, it wouldn’t work.  As soon as you removed the part, it wouldn’t be there in 1955 for Marty to find intact right?  But, the opposite isn’t true.  Take a part off of the version Marty brought back to fix the one Doc hid and you don’t get into this displacement effect.  Maybe this is why it’s not brought up in the film, maybe Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale realized this and decided to sidestep trying to explain it (the franchise was pretty confusing at it was at this point.)

All of this aside, I’ve always considered the first film in the franchise to be pretty tight and free of these pesky time travel loopholes.  In fact, after a hundred nerdy conversations with friends and family I was pretty certain that there was nothing new to ever discover in that first film.  Well, that was until I poked my nose in another issue of Starlog a few weeks ago and found an article discussing the two variations of Marty McFly in the first movie.  Though this revelation wasn’t reached on my own, thus sidestepping that Doc Brown toilet bonk Eureka moment, it still blew my mind none-the-less.  The article was titled “The Other Marty McFly”, was written by Bruce Gordon, and appeared in issue 108 from July of 1986…

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Marty Alpha

The gist of the article is that there are two Marty McFlys (which they label as one and two, but I’d rather call them Marty Alpha and Marty Beta), the main one that the movie follows back to 1955 and beyond (Alpha), and a slightly more mysterious second one that is seen towards the end of the film repeating the events from the beginning as Marty Alpha returns to 1985 a few minutes early in the hopes of saving Doc Brown from the Libyans (Beta.)  But aren’t these just the same Marty at two places?  Well yes.  And no.  Consider the ultimate end of the film after Marty finds out that Doc did indeed read the warning letter he gave him back in 1955.  Doc survives thanks to a handy bullet proof vest and Marty goes home.  But is it the same home?  Obviously not!  The McFly family that Marty Alpha grew up with are for all intents and purposes kinda losers…

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His mom has a drinking problem, his dad is a beaten down pushover, his brother is a foul-mouthed slacker who works at Burger King, and his sister, well his sister hates taking messages for Marty.  But in the 1985 that Marty Alpha returns to his family is completely different…

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His dad is a wealthy published writer, his mom is fit as a fiddle, his brother always wears a suit to the office and his sister, well, his sister has slightly better hair, less frumpy clothes, and doesn’t seem to mind taking messages quite as much.  Not only is his family more well off, but Marty is too.  His room might be identical, but this Marty has that sweet black 4×4 he always dreamed about!

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The point here is that the Marty that grew up in this environment, with more successful siblings and parents, with a totally different world view, is in fact a different Marty that we get to know throughout the film.  Thus, Marty Beta.

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(for the sake of ease I thought it would be fun to have Marty Beta represented by the Eric Stoltz version of the character…)

The two are similar, but not the same.  They had vastly different experiences growing up and thus, who knows what happens when Marty Beta gets that DeLorean up to 88mph and blacks back to the past.  Similarly, the Doc Brown that Marty Alpha encounters in 1955 and then eventually goes on to become the slightly different Doc Brown in 1985, the one that is prepared for the Libyans with a bullet-proof vest and got a chance to “know” Marty before he was even born, would he have informed Marty Beta about the adventure he was going to go on that fateful night?  This is getting a little convoluted, but it’s just the beginning!

Bruce Gordon goes on to point out something about the opening of the BTTF film that I had never noticed before.  Though we plainly get a chance to see that there are two Martys at the end of the film, what if I said for a split second there are also two at the beginning?!  That’s right, there’s a hidden Marty during the original sequence at Twin Pines mall that can be seen in silhouette for a split second of screen time.  That’s right, go grab your DVDs or cue up this clip on youtube. Now, pause the footage right as the Libyans corner Doc, right before Doc throws his gun away.

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You see that lit storefront between Doc and his big white van?  Pay attention to that little lit area and Marty Beta runs across that area…

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Now in the interest of complete transparency I will be the first to admit that what we’re seeing is way more likely a mistake, a crew member scuttling across set in front of shooting by accident perhaps.  But just for a second, imagine that that IS another Marty.  Think about that placement for a second.  You see how the Libyan’s VW Microbus is on the left and Doc is on the right?  Now consider that when Marty Alpha comes back to 1985 at the end of the film and he runs up to the (now) Lone Pine Mall and he stops at the sign, spatially, where is he in reference to the Libyans and Doc?  That’s right!  In that same area!

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But why would Marty Beta be skulking around in the background at the beginning of the film?  Well, it gets back to the differences between the two of them, and the differences in the two Doc Browns.  In Marty Beta’s world, the Doc that he hung out with knew he was going to eventually build a time machine, knew it would be made out of a Delorean, knew that he was going to get shot and that Marty was going to travel back in time, etc., etc.  That Doc knew that when Marty came back he altered the timeline by changing the outcome of his parents meeting and falling in love.  That Doc knew things he possibly didn’t want to know.  So maybe that Doc decided to read the letter that Marty left him, and then was extra prepared for that fateful night.

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What if that Doc had a plan to set the timeline straight by tweaking the events just a bit, by say pre-loading the DeLorean with the extra plutonium he had on hand, knowing Marty would take it back to 1955.  Maybe he even gave Marty instructions to come right back without messing with the time line at all (as Bruce Gordon suggests in the Starlog article.)  That way everything would right itself to the true (Alpha) timeline.  If you remember, during the original mall sequence he has a realization to grab the extra plutonium right before the Libyans show up.  It was all in a yellow containment suitcase right beside the truck…

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Well guess what is no longer on the ground beside the truck during the end sequence of the film?  That’s right!  The plutonium isn’t there!

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Now I know what you’re potentially thinking, it just wasn’t in the shot by accident (the set dresser forgot to put it out, it was moved, etc.)  Again, you’re probably right.  But consider the fact that there are a lot of subtle details strewn throughout the film that illustrate that there are two different versions of Hill Valley in 1985.  There’s the obvious differences in Biff and Marty’s family, but there’s also some changes to the backgrounds in the sets!  The most glaring is the differences in the Twin Pines Mall (which becomes the Lone Pone Mall), but also the change in the clock tower.  At the beginning of the film when Marty is with Jennifer and the woman comes up declaring that they have to save the clock tower you can clearly see that the only thing wrong with the clock tower is the fact that it stopped working because of the bolt of lightning that struck it in 1955…

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But during the events of the night when 1955-era Doc Brown is trying to get Marty back home he totally destroys a chunk of the ledge underneath the clock while attempting to connect the wires needed to harness the lightning…

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Right as Marty returns to 1985 the first thing we see is that same clock tower, only now a chunk of the ledge is missing (there’s a modern helicopter in the below screen shot so you know it’s ’85)…

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If Zemeckis and crew went so far as to include details like this, is it possible that he also intentionally removed the plutonium at the end, and possibly had a Marty Beta running across the background of the opening mall scene to illustrate the dual Marty time loops that are in the story?  Who knows for sure, but damn if it isn’t fun to think about!  If nothing else, Bruce Gordon’s article in issue 108 of Starlog afforded me the rare opportunity to find a new experience in a film that I thought held no more surprises for me, and that is pretty freaking awesome. I never considered Marty Beta and what his life was like, how different it most likely was…

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Fangoria Interviews The Monster Squad!

10710926_10152738966882328_5146327273773526587_nShortly after I first saw The Monster Squad I discovered one of the magazine staples of my youth, Fangoria.  At the time, around 1987-88, there were no shops around me that carried magazine back issues and my parents weren’t keen on me ordering from the Fangoria back issue catalog, so I never got a chance to get a hold of any of the ones that had Monster Squad articles.  It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s and I managed to procure a rather large collection of the periodical that I finally got to sink my teeth into a handful of issues that covered my favorite film.  I thought it would be fun to share those articles today.  Also, this is the perfect opportunity to point to my friend Paxton’s Countdown this year as he’s spending the entire month celebrating that glorious horror magazine.  So head on over to the Cavalcade of Awesome and check out what Pax has in store.

First up today I have issue number 61 from February 1987 that features an interview with Fred Dekker on the set of Night of the Creeps.  Though the majority of the article focuses on Creeps, there are a couple of early tidbits about The Monster Squad and Dekker always makes for a great interview subject because of his no nonsense attitude and honesty.

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Next up is issue number 66 from August of 1987, the month that Monster Squad hit theater screens.  This issue features another interview with Dekker and has some fun promotional and deleted scene stills.  You can also clearly see that Dekker was very unhappy with the management of Creeps by the production company and is so much happier now that he’s on the MS set and things seems to be going much better.

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The follow up issue, number 67 from September of 87 features another Squad article, though this one is a feature interview with Dekker’s co-writer on the film Shane Black.  There’s some fun insight into the writing process between the two of them in this article, and an explanation of the tone and presentation that their script takes (which is really fun to read and very unconventional.)  I also made the connection that the character of Detective Sapir is a reference to one of Black’s writing heroes Richard Sapir who co-created and wrote the Destroyer series of novels (with the character Remo Williams.)

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The last Fangoria article I have is from issue number 70 from January of 1988 and features and interview with Stan Winston’s crew of special effects artists.  The article is half about their work on Pumpkinhead, but the other half delves into their work on The Monster Squad.  Kinda fun to meet the guys behind the art…

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As a special bonus I also have an article from the September 1987 issue of Starlog (#122), which features an interview with Dracula himself, Duncan Regehr…

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Now for today’s trading card!

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Since there was never any MS merchandise produced, specifically a Topps trading card set, I thought it would be fun to make a mini set of 80s-style digital trading cards for my favorite movie of all time. So come back each evening for Trick or Treats and collect them all!

Today’s card is #19, The Amulet!

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I’m basically still Chunk at heart

For the majority of my life I was, well, let’s say pretty husky.  As a very young kid I was actually pretty skinny, say up until I was six or seven, but starting with my family’s first big move across state, and then all over the east coast things got a little difficult for me and well for a bunch of reasons food became my comfort.  But I’m not really sitting down to write about that as much as describing an aspect that contributed to my personality as a kid.  Moving around a lot, overweight, and to be quite honest I was one hell of a weird kid.  My mom has always kept an unusual schedule, sleeping during the day when my sister and I were at school and my dad at work, and then staying up till all hours of the morning watching late night cable.  When she would go grocery shopping it was usually at one of the stores in the area that was open 24 hours and she liked to hit them up between 10:00pm to 12:00am to avoid a bunch of other customers and to basically have a stress free experience.  When she went on the weekends I’d tag along and wander around the vast empty store, browsing the toy aisle for 45 minutes talking to myself out loud and making mental lists of all the stuff I would ask for on my upcoming birthdays and Christmas.  From the outside I’m sure I appeared pretty damn weird, but I was fully aware of it and for the most part didn’t care how I looked or seemed to others.  I was entertaining myself and that’s all that mattered.

So when relating to characters from pop culture, it should come as no surprise that I’ve always felt that Chunk (Jeff Cohen) from the Goonies is more or less my spirit animal…

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I was never great at making friends though I always managed to, and when I did I tended to over compensate, exaggerate and be kind of a handful just like the loveable Lawrence.  In my defense Michael Jackson, nor his sister, ever came to my house to use the bathroom…but I saw Stephen King in a Maine bookstore once on vacation (sure I did…)  I wouldn’t say I was using the character as a role model, but I sure did feel his pain whenever he’d spaz out or make a fool of himself…

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I also had a weird habit of wearing Halloween costumes was past the point of being “acceptable” for normal attire.  I mean I’d be hanging out in the house dressed up in my sweet ninja gear during Christmas or I’d be tooling around the neighborhood in my “G.I. Joe fatigues” and beret for instance…

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…so later on in life when I found out about Jeff Cohen’s penchant for waring weird and wacky headgear both on and off the set of Goonies, I totally related.  Part of it was that need to perform, part just trying to over compensate.

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Anyway, this is all a lot of lead up to the fact that I just found this old back issue of Starlog magazine in a used bookshop this past week and I was overjoyed to see that it included an interview with Jeff Cohen (and Corey Feldman, but Jeff steals the show)!  Usually these articles only focused on the adult actors or crew, so it’s pretty rad to find one that was concentrating on the kids, but wasn’t fluff from an 80s teeny-bop magazine.  Hope everyone enjoys reading this as much as I did…

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Again, from the article Cohen has a quote about his character Chunk that really echos my childhood experience as a pseudo-Chunk…

“Chunk is too much, but he doesn’t care.  He likes it.  He doesn’t like being fat, but he likes having his own personality.  He’s a little bit flashy, wears plaid pants and a big Hawaiian shirt and struts around…he’s a klutz and a liar.  He lies to his friends, but nothing to hurt ‘em.”

Anyway, the interview is all over the place as both Feldman and Cohen are hyped up and excited, but I still think it’s a fun read and a great snapshot of these two actors in the prime of their Goonies experience.  So glad I found this…

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 31: Happy Halloween!

Alright Boils and Ghouls!  We’re finally here, Halloween is upon us and tonight lucky kids all over the country will be knocking on doors and stuffing pails, sacks, pillow cases, and bags with all sort of sugary goodness.  Tomorrow is set aside for a million tummy aches, but tonight there will be chocolate!  And fake blood.

For this last post of the season I’ve decided to share the longest single ad in my collection.  It comes from issue #117 of Fangoria which was printed in 1992.  Featuring witch boobies, corpses, devils, skeletons, silly masks, licensed masks, Aliens, Critters, demons, vampires, Frankenstein’s Monsters, gore, and 5, count ‘em, 5 different Jack-o-Lantern masks!  This is a crazy blowout sale ad from the folks at Distortions Unlimited, and I love it!

All told, I’ve shared in the neighborhood of 370 different masks from all sorts of companies, and that’s just a fraction of what was available between the late 70s through the early 90s.  I’ve been wanting to showcase these mask ads for awhile and it feels good to finally have them up on the site.  Now it’s time carve my 7th pumpkin of the season, watch a few more horror films, and kick back and wait for some trick-or-treaters to come by begging for candy.  Hope you all dug the countdown this year, and as always…

…if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did! Have a happy Halloween, and maybe tonight will be the night that the Great Pumpkin finally does show up…

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 30: The blood is the life…

We’re up to our second to last post for the Halloween season!  Today it’s all about Dracula.  Well, Francis Ford Coppola’s film version of the novel.  Actually, it’s really the effects team and designer’s interpretation of Dracula filtered through Morris Studios sculptors work.  Yeah, that’s the ticket…

This ad comes from issue #130 of Fangoria from 1994 and features 4 of the more gruesome and creepy iterations of Oldman’s Dracula character from the ’92 film.  Though Keanu Reeves is horribly miscast in the flick, it still holds up for its amazing in-camera effects work.  Seriously, go back and watch the film.  All those effects are in-freaking-camera.  That’s some pretty crazy Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind stuff going on in a Coppola film.  Bananas!

Anyway, come back tomorrow for more mask tomfoolery, and if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did!

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 29: Shhh, here’s some Cinema Secrets…

Just three days left until Halloween, and the beginning of the last weekend in the season.  Today brings the only Cinema Secrets advertisement of the countdown, which was ripped from issue #126 of Fangoria from 1993…

Lots of licensed masks in this one, with few variations thrown in for good measure.  Not sure why they even really bothered with Friday part 9 masks considering the way the movie plays out for the most part, but I’m sure there were undiscerning fans out there that wanted any sort of new Jason masks…

Anyway, come back tomorrow for more mask tomfoolery, and if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did!

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 28: Gardner Gimmicks!

Well, we’re up to the last Friday in the Countdown, as well as the last couple of Tony Gardner ads I was able to cull from two 1993 issues of Fangoria.  This one features some more Sam Raimi creations with two variations of Evil Ash from Army of Darkness

There’s also a lot of other gory masks featured, my favorites being Freaky Ralph and the exposed Darkman…

For the last Gardner ad I wanted to showcase in the countdown features something that I haven’t really tackled yet, gimmick masks…

Featuring masks within masks and a couple different inflatable scare gags, this ad reminds me the most of the huckstering days of the mail-away products from the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  By far my favorite gag is the double masks with the flip-up faces revealing various grotesqueries underneath.

Anyway, come back tomorrow for more mask tomfoolery, and if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did!

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 27: The last Death…

It’s day 27. Only 4 more days until Halloween!  I hope everyone has their candy ready, their designs in place for this year’s Jack-o-Lanterns, and a pile of horror movies ready to watch.  I know I’ve been having an absolute blast this year doing my best to keep up with over 270 sites participating in the 2011 Countdown to Halloween.

Today I have my last Death Studios advertisement which I yanked from issue #115 of Fangoria published back in 1992.  Though this ad features a lot of repeat masks, there are a few news ones in the bunch that were well worth posting…

In particular I really dig the Xenophobe and the Danny the Bastard masks.  Both feature fun sculpts and a ton of detail.  I also love the sleek simplicity of the Skull mask in this ad…

Anyway, come back tomorrow for more mask tomfoolery, and if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did!

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 26: Gardner throwbacks…

We’re up top the last Wednesday in the Countdown this year, and today I’m featuring my third Tony Gardner ad, this time from issue #117 of Fangoria, published in 1992…

This one is fun because it’s a bit more on the classic side of things, and is sort of a throwback to the ads of the 50s and 60s featuring the Alterian Ghost Factory’s take on Frankenstein’s monster, Witch, Skull, Devil, Mummy and Werewolf masks.  Though the concepts may not be new, I do feel that the sculpts on these masks a interesting enough to easily set them apart from all of the other studios offering similar masks.  I’d have to say that my favorite out of this bunch is a toss up between the Skull and the Dirty ‘ol Man…

Anyway, come back tomorrow for more mask tomfoolery, and if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did!

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 25: Tony Gardner brings the gore!

Day 25 brings some more masks from Tony Gardner’s Alterian Studios/Ghost Factory.  With a nod that the design was specifically tailored to the desires of gorehounds, these masks upped the blood quotient for Gardner’s masks by 700%…

This ad comes from issue #117 of Fangoria, first published in 1992, and was still beating the drum for a little under appreciated superhero horror hybrid movie called Darkman.  If there was ever a film ripe for mask merchandise it has to be Darkman, what with all of the mask making in the actual film.  It was also an opportunity for an enterprising company like Gardner’s to produce a Bruce Campbell Final Shemp mask, though I doubt they ever did.  If nothing else I really dig how playful Gardner and crew get with the infusion of gore.  I love the Dinosaur and Brainstorm masks…

Anyway, come back tomorrow for more mask tomfoolery, and if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did!