From the Crap Archives: “Fantastic Films” Magazine


Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. He does this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

Fantastic Films magazine
Date: December, 1980
Discovered at: Antique Mall
The Cover Promises: Much more excitement than future Star Wars movies would actually deliver
Representative Quotes: “Generally TV color is just too literal for fantasy, gothic horror, or any other kind of off-beat drama which demands, by its very nature, that the audience participate with its imagination” (page 4). “One thing you can say about George Lucas, he never throws an idea away. The same ones show up again and again” (page 30).

The years following Star Wars glitter as the glory days of American fantasy: Alien, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Richard Donner’s Superman, and the election of a rosy-cheeked, scatterbrained mystic right out of Joseph Campbell, one who carried on adorably about “Evil Empires” and sci-fi missile systems.

Interest in impossible adventures hit such a peak that the grubby fanzines of the 60s and 70s swelled up into legitimate monthlies available at grocery stores everywhere, even in nowhere dives like the IGA in DeSoto, Kansas, where your young Crap Archivist would freak his shit out by peeking at photo spreads honoring special effects master Tom Savini.

Photo spreads like this:

Even freakier: the ads for “exotic” fantasy art portfolios.

Why has she pinned the silhouette of a kitten to her bikini area?

And are those breasts or Muppet eyes?

By constantly slapping Star Wars on the cover, magazines like Starlog or Fantastic Film crash-coursed a generation of Lucas-starved kids into sweaty grown-up stuff such as Val Mayerik’s “nymph-like woman cavorting with a huge eel under the sea” . . . as well as that fannish obsessiveness that would become the hallmark of the Internet age.

ALSO: what kid’s mind is equipped to handle Wizard of Speed and Time director Mike Jittlov?

The Dark Side: These magazines would also teach us disappointment. Consider this issue’s cover story, Bill Hays’ “Speculation Concerning the Future History of the Continuing Star Wars Saga.” This thorough, loving prognostication about the delights that awaited us in what was then known as Revenge of the Jedi is wrong in almost every particular. Even the silliest conventions of the popcorn flick are taken for significant clues:

Besides mistaking The Empire Strikes Back for a new baseline instead of a flukish high-water mark, and also presuming Lucas cared anywhere near as much as Fantastic Films readers did, Hays believed the following:

Darth Vader is not Luke’s father. Instead, he and Luke are clones of another Jedi named Skywalker.

The Millennium Falcon? “Designed by Jedi scientists as Skywalker’s private warship, to protect his cover identity as a smuggler.”

“Is Obi-Wan supposed to be Jesus Christ? Yes and no.”

Obi-Wan Kenobi is the first clone of a specimen named O.B. Think about it: O.B.1.

“Better yet, tell me what Jedi stands for. In Latin, the plural of Jesus would be Jesi, but that’s too obvious. If the early Christians cloned Jesus to preserve his unique DNA, they might have built the Jesus Eugenics Development Institute.”

Bounty hunter Boba Fett isn’t just a clone . . . Boba Fett’s a she clone. “Boba could be a family nickname for Roberta.”

“Luke agonizes that he could make [Leia] love him by planting the suggestion in her mind.”

Jabba the Hutt and his pirate friends team up with the Rebel Alliance.

The climax: “The Rebels don’t have enough ships to defeat the Imperial fleet. Han arrives at the crucial moment, leading the pirates and all the Jedis that Boba Fett only pretended to kill, and shows us Kenner’s new line of space toys for that Christmas.”

Of course, all of Hays’ speculation pales next to the climax Lucas actually envisioned: as Lando and some fish-faced thing re-enact the last half hour of Star Wars, a sleepy-eyed Han Solo beats up Storm Troopers with some teddy bears.

Shocking Detail: This issue also features a Savini interview, a feature on 1933’s Island of Lost Souls, and a letter taking issue with a previous issue’s interpretation of The Twilight Zone. An ad offers movies like I Walked With a Zombie and Flesh Gordon on videotape for $55 apiece, plus S&H.

Slithis looks worth the investment.

And did you know that awesome had a high school yearbook?

Highlight: In an interview promoting the upcoming cartoon series “Thundarr the Barbarian,” Howard the Duck creator Steve Gerber dishes reason after reason why Fantastic Film readers shouldn’t wake up on Saturday morning’s anticipating an accurate representation of barbarian times:

“The Program Practices will not allow our main character to punch or to hit anybody. He can do all sorts of acrobatic things, but he can’t even trip anyone.”

“We had to design a sword which was not a sharp object, which naturally led people to a laser sword. However, that had already been done before so we had to take it one step further to a lightening sword.”

“We were never going to do the the kind of bloody, sexy, purple stories that [Robert E.] Howard did. What I would have liked to have seen, however, is a character barbaric enough to be able to defend himself.”

That’s the 80s right there. Muppet-eye boobs at the grocery store, Flesh Gordon available by mail, while on TV every GI Joe parachuted out of every airplane right before it crashed. If only people as dedicated to their jobs as those ‘Program Practices’ folks worked where they could have actually done some good… like in Quality Assurance at Lucasfilm.


This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 8, 2009

Archive Highlights