Ralph Angus McQuarrie, best know for his conceptual artwork for STAR WARS, passed away March 3rd. He was 82.
McQuarrie came from a background in the advertising and aerospace fields, doing work ranging from dental equipment and conceptual work for Boeing. He also did film posters, and supplied the animation CBS used to show what viewers what the Apollo moon landing would entail. Ralph McQuarrie was approached by George Lucas in 1975 to do presentation artwork to help sell “THE STAR WARS” to film executives unable to envision what the film would look like. He designed the robots C3PO and R2D2, and the iconic Darth Vader, giving him the distinctive helmet and breathing mask.
He was quoted (by the San Diego Union-Tribune as saying:
“I just did my best to depict what I thought the film should look like, I really liked the idea. I didn’t think the film would ever get made.
My impression was it was too expensive. There wouldn’t be enough of an audience. It’s just too complicated.
But George knew a lot of things that I didn’t know.”
At Star Wars.com Lucas was quick to praise McQuarrie:
“His genial contribution, in the form of unequalled production paintings, propelled and inspired all of the cast and crew of the original Star Wars trilogy. When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph’s fabulous illustrations and say, ‘do it like this’.”
And indeed, many of the scenes and settings in the first three STAR WARS films looked very much like McQuarrie’s paintings come to life.
Ralph McQuarrie also designed several of the the UFOs in Steven Spielberg’s CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977), including the mothership, inspired by Speilberg’s description of it looking like ‘an oil refinery at night’.
He also did design and production illustrations for E.T: The Extraterrestrial, the original BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, STAR TREK IV, and COCOON (1985), for which he won an Academy Award.
He appeared uncredited as “General McQuarrie” in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, and even had an action figure made of his character.
He did design work on a STAR TREK film that did not get made (prior to STAR TREK: The Motion Picture), which featured a radicallly redesigned Enterprise. The study model for this project was eventually used as a background ship on STAR TREK: The Next Generation.
NIGHTBREED (1990), BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED and JURASSIC PARK were other productions on which he worked.
And so the story of two sisters vexed by supernatural forces — as captured by conveniently located video cameras — continues, or begins, or ends depending on how you want to look at it, in PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3. Another prequel set in 1988 and purportedly recorded on VHS equipment — which doesn’t really account for the broadcast-quality image — the film purports to show how sisters Katie and Kristi Ray were first courted as children by forces malevolent, leading to the chaos depicted in the previous entries.
Those who are acquainted with the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise will know what to expect (although maybe not when to expect it), but is more of the same enough? Join Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons as they patiently await the manifestations and debate whether this strung-out origin tale fills in narrative gaps or just restates already established history with more ungainly video equipment.
Also: A discussion of the Wachowski’s imminent return to genre and Bryan Singer’s bid to retell the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA legend once more. Plus: what’s coming in theatrical and home video releases.
From the set of 17th PRECINCT, former BATTLESTAR GALACTICA star Tricia Helfer posted this picture of herself and her BSG pals James Callis and Jamie Bamber on her Twitter account.
The NBC pilot by writer/producer Ron Moore reunites the trio as police dectectives and coroner in the series, which takes place in a world where magic and the supernatural are normal components of their investigations.
Note that the above is a personal snapshot, and note an officially released photograph. (via SFX)
According to TV Line, SMALLVILLE’s Lana Lang, Kristin Kreuk, is joining the cast of the pilot of 17th PRECINCT.
The show, created by BATTLESTAR GALACTICA’s Ron Moore, already has three leads from BSG.
Jamie Bamber is signed to star as Caolan Longstreet, homicide detective at the 17th Precinct of the city of Excelsior.
Tricia Helfer (Six) plays Morgana, a necromancer who fills the role of coroner, with James Callis (Baltar) another detective at the station house.
I should note that the show takes place in a world where magic is real, and a normal part of police investigation.
Stockard Channing (THE WEST WING, PRACTICAL MAGIC) and Matt Long (GHOST RIDER, MAD MEN) were also previously announced in the cast.
Kristin Kreuk is set to play Susan Longstreet, wife of Jamie Bamber’s character. Apparently a guest role, though if the pilot goes to series, perhaps the part will become recurring.
TVLine reports that BATTLESTAR GALACTICA’s Jamie Bamber has been cast in BSG producer Ron Moore’s 17th PRECINCT pilot for NBC.
The show, described as a ensemble police drama, set in a fictional town named Excelsior, “where magic and with supernatural elements rule over science”.
Jamie Bamber is set to play Caolan, a crime scene detective. He’s coming off OUTCASTS, a UK SF series that hasn’t yet hit American shores.
Already cast is Stockard Channing (PRACTICAL MAGIC, BATMAN BEYOND), who the role of Mira, a former homicide detective, now working in the robbery division.
Sounds a bit like the dark “magical” world of CAST A DEADLY SPELL (1991), or the recent, comic book-based PARADOX, which starred genre vet Kevin Sorbo as a policeman in a world where magic, rather than science held sway.
SyFy’s BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: BLOOD & CHROME begins shooting in Vancouver. 2-Hour Pilot Chronicles Young William Adama’s Adventures in First Cylon War.
Per the Press Release, Lili Bordan (SILENT WITNESS) joins Luke Pasqualino and Ben Cotton in the cast.
“Production has begun in Vancouver on Syfy’s highly anticipated 2-hour pilot, Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, the all-new chapter in the Battlestar Galactica saga. Universal Cable Productions will produce the event with Syfy utilizing cutting edge CGI and virtual technology.
Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome takes place in the 10th year of the first Cylon war. As the battle between humans and their creation, the sentient robotic Cylons, rages across the 12 colonial worlds, a young, talented fighter pilot, William Adama (Luke Pasqualino), finds himself assigned to one of the most powerful Battlestars in the Colonial fleet: the Galactica. Full of ambition and in pursuit of the intense action that the Cylon war promises, Adama quickly find himself at odds with Coker (Ben Cotton), the battle-weary officer to whom he reports. With 47 days left in his tour of duty, Coker desires an end to battle just as much as Adama craves the start of it. Though they clash at first, the two men forge an unlikely bond when a routine mission turns dangerous and becomes a pivotal one for the desperate fleet.
Joining Pasqualino and Cotton in the cast is Lili Bordan, who will play Dr. Beka Kelly, a Ph.D. who worked for Graystone Industries that created the Cylon robots. Currently assigned to a secret military mission, Beka and Adama quickly establish a rapport.
From the award-winning producers of Battlestar Galactica, this new action-packed chapter of the BSG canon was written by Michael Taylor from a story by David Eick, Taylor and Bradley Thompson & David Weddle and directed by Jonas Pate. David Eick, Jonas Pate and Michael Taylor will serve as executive producers.”
Entertainment Weekly revealed that 21-year-old Luke Pasqualino (the UK version of SKINS) has been cast as the young William Adama in SyFy’s BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: BLOOD & CHROME.
Ben Cotton, (HELLCATS, the SyFy web series RIESE) will play Adama’s commanding officer. Looks like the whole show is skewing younger.
The BSG prequel, originally planned as just a web mini-series, got greenlighted as a full series, possibly as a response to the low ratings of previous prequel CAPRICA.
That series, much more “grounded” and concerened with slow moving personal tragedies and conspiracies generated some devoted fans, but insufficent overall viewers.
Young fighter pilot “Husker” Adama was previously played by Nico Cortez in RAZOR.
Official character descriptions:
“Pasqualino will star as the young, talented fighter pilot William Adama, a recent Academy graduate who finds himself assigned to the newest Battlestar in the Colonial fleet: the Galactica. Full of ambition and in pursuit of the intense action that the Cylon war promises, Adama quickly finds himself at odds with Coker (Cotton), the battle-weary officer to whom he reports.
With 45 days left in his tour of duty, Coker desires an end to battle just as much as Adama craves the start of it. Though they clash at first, the two men forge an unlikely bond when a routine mission turns dangerous and becomes a pivotal one for the desperate fleet. Blood & Chrome is set during the 10th year of the first Cylon war. The show will debut with a two-hour pilot on SyFy, executive produced by David Eick.”
Ben Cotton also appeared as recurring character Dr. Peter Kavanagh on STARGATE: ATLANTIS, and guested twice on CAPRICA.
Independent motion picture distribution and production company American World Pictures tells us that principal photography is completed on their period fantasy film , JABBERWOCKY.
Directed by Steven R. Monroe (I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE: Unrated), JABBERWOCKY stars Tahmoh Penikett (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, FOX’s DOLLHOUSE) and Kacey Barnfield (RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE, BBC’s GRANGE HILL).
The film, written by Raul Inglis and Rafael Jordan, also stars Richard Riddell (THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS), Ian Virgo (the upcoming John Cusack film THE RAVEN, BLACK HAWK DOWN) and Michael Worth (GOD’S EAR), and was shot in Bulgaria.
This is the company’s first of three co-productions with Bron Studios.
From their press release:
Director Steven R. Monroe stated: “Anytime you get to shoot a period piece project like JABBERWOCKY with sets, wardrobe, swords and creatures you are like a kid in the candy store. Also, when you get to assemble a great diverse cast to be in that atmosphere it adds yet another level of excitement. Everyone just kind of falls into place and into character when they land in all these elements and it’s just really fun as a director to be in the middle of all that.
Shooting in Bulgaria was a huge plus for this production, even with all the winter weather hitting us it just added to the whole vibe of the project.”
In this Sci-Fi/Fantasy tale, JABBERWOCKY chronicles the story of a young squire (Michael Worth) who, alongside his brother (Tahmoh Penikett), must become a warrior to save his people and the woman he loves (Kacey Barnfield) after a horrific beast is unleashed on the Kingdom.
American World Pictures’ Mark L. Lester and Dana Dubovsky and Bron Studios’ Aaron L. Gilbert serve as Producers, with John Raymonds and Bron’s Bernie Melanson as Executive Producers.
Says AWP’s Lester, “We are delighted with Steven’s work as director, his ability as a storyteller is remarkable. And the performance of the cast and crew were top notch.”
BEHEMOTH premieres this Saturday, January 15th 9pm ET/PT on SyFy.
“An earthquake reactivates a long-dormant volcano threatening the small town of Ascension, trembling in its shadow. But the gaping maws in the region reveal evidence of something else—a centuries-old subterranean creature at last given the chance to break free in a black cloud of fire and ash. As the Behemoth wreaks havoc, it’s a race against time as a small band of rescuers fight it with a force as destructive as the beast itself.”
Directed by David Hogan (SOLIDER OF GOD), from a screenplay by Rachelle S. Howie.
Starring Ed Quinn (EUREKA), William B. Davis (X-FILES) ,Cindy Busby (KILLER WAVE), and Ty Olsson (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA). Alerted by Blastr
Also: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA SEASON FOUR Blu-ray, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: SEASON 8 MOTION COMIC Blu-ray & DVD Combo, Four-Film Collections
2011 begins with a bang – or at least a sulfurous blast of demonic hellfire – thanks to the home video release of THE LAST EXORCISM on DVD, Blu-ray, and Video on Demand. Although the film does not fully deliver on its promise, it is quite effective for most of its length, and those who missed in theatres should takes this opportunity to check it out. For those interested in the behind the scenes details, the discs come with some attractive bonus features.
DVD & BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES:
Actor and Director commentary with Daniel Stamm, Ashley Bell, Patrick Fabian and Louis Herthum
Audio commentary with Producers Eli Roth, Eric Newman and Tom Bliss
“The Devil You Know: The Making of The Last Exorcism” featurette
“Real Stories of Exorcism” featurette
2009 Cannes Film Festival teaser trailer
In addition, the Blu-ray offers these features not available on the DVD:
“Witnesses to an Exorcism: An Audio Commentary with a Haunting Victim, Deliverance Minister and Clinical Psychologist”
BD Touch and Metamenu Remote
That’s about it for new horror, fantasy, and science fiction titles arriving on home video this Tuesday; most of the remaining releases are repackages of previously available titles.
Fans who just can’t get no satisfaction with reruns of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER will be pleased to see the BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 8 MOTION COMIC, which continues the adventures of the monster-killing blonde chick, which arrives as a combo pack containing Blu-ray and DVD.
If your taste turns more toward science fiction, you may prefer the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA SEASON FOUR Blu-ray disc. There was a previous BATTLESTAR GALACTICA SEASON 4.5 Blu-ray release in 2007. I will leave it to the hardcore fans to determine whether they want to double dip.
Several economy packages hit store shelves. Clive Barker’s BOOK OF BLOOD arrives in a “Horror 2-Pack” DVD with MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN. GRAVES and ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION are joined in a “Double Feature” Blu-ray. Pacific Entertainment offers 25 FRIGHT NIGHT CLASSICS, starring the likes of Boris Karloff, Leslie Neilsen, William Shatner, and Drew Barrymore in titles you’ve never heard of and which the actors would probably prefer it stayed that way. As if that were not enough for penny-pinching purchasers, there is a series of discs bearing the label “Four Film Collection,” which true to their name offer a quadruple does of terror. Sometimes the combinations seem apprpriate; at other times, it seems like whatever was contractually available was thrown together. For example, putting LEPRECHAUN 1 through 4 in a package makes sense (or at least as much sense of releasing a LEPRECHAUN movie can), but simultaneous releasing a disc with PUMPKIN HEAD II, LEPRECHAUN, WISHMASTER, and WISHMASTER 2 is a bit of a jumble. Even more discordant is the combination of THE EYE (the American remake of the Chinese original), JU-ON: THE GRUDGE (the Japanese original that was remade with American stars), BUG (the psycho-drama directed by William Friedkin), and ALONE IN THE DARK (an obscure thriller starring Christian Slater as a private investigator who specializes in supernatural phenomena). A bit more comfortable nestled together are BORDERLAND, DARK RIDE, UNEARTHED, and THE GRAVE DANCERS: although not labeled as such, all of these titles have appeared under the After Dark Horrorfest label, which gives weekend-long theatrical exposure to films that otherwise would go straight to video. Of these, THE GRAVE DANCERS is probably the best film ever to screen as part of the horror fest. These and other titles are available in the Cinefantastique Online Store.