I'm talkin' bout gore here. The argument stays the same. "To gore or not to gore" as one fan put it in their Postal Zone letter to Fango in the early days of the horror publication. Well, as we all know, to gore won the battle. Graphic still of blood and guts were, at least in part, key to the magazine's success. This type of content separated it from StarLog. This kind of content was revolutionary for the early 80's. I'm not going to say that we've gotten used to gore in cinema, but we certainly do expect it from certain types of films. Since the days of Herschell Gordon Lewis there have been critics of raw carnage in cinema, and to this day it takes a special someone to appreciate the gore in film. The gore does not inspire box office success. The gore does not make it to the TV edit (much). Even though we all know it to be latex and karo (or whatever the kids are using these days) the gross out is same as it ever was. You know my stance on it. I'm a fan, loyal to the gore as any good creeper would be. Think about that when you go buy this back issue and frame the absolutely menacing cover of issue #12. This is Fango for Dummies... let's get gory.
Bob Martin, editor of Fangoria in 1981 (when it was only published six times a year) love the gore too. It is his focal point for the editor's note in this issue. After receiving many a criticism of Fango's decision to include gore on its cover and in its pages Martin strikes back and defends the decision. In addition to the regular user response, The Postal Zone, Martin includes a "Readers on Gore" section which details user response on our favorite four letter word beginning with the letter "G". The arguments are worth your precious pennies on the back issue market. See excerpt above which clearly shows what your up against gore fans of the past. This argument doesn't go away... and while we're at it, Gene Siskel is not a fan of horror movies. Gene Siskel is a fan of Roger Ebert (secretly) and himself (quite openly).
Alex Gordon recants a tale of how Boris Karloff almost made his way into an Edward D. Wood Jr picture alongside Bela Lugosi in a film called Atomic Monster who's title was later stolen by the damn studio execs. After a Hollywood shuffle on Lugosi makes it into Bride of the Monster and Karloff goes on to continue his march of fame in other studio picture. There's even mention of our beloved Samuel Z. Arkoff of American International Pictures fame. One is left wondering what might happen what might have happened if Lugosi and Karloff had starred in that battle of the Hollywood monster has beens in such a late stage of their career under the direction of Ed Wood. Gordon's nostalgia is always worth your time and gives you that perspective on Hollywood in transition during the 50's and 60's.
Proof that horror does not live in a bubble is a look at the new horror picture (read Psychological thriller) is Oliver Stone's the hand. This article details Stone's burning, unrealized desire to tell a story about Vietnam but that his script writing efforts thus far had not yielded much fruit. He mentions his script for Platoon and his love of the story of Ron Kovic (remember Born on the 4th of July). He also talks about how Martin Scorsese was his film teacher at NYU and got him hot for film. Inspired by movies like Repulsion and La Dolce Vida, The Hand is combination of Oliver Stone's talent as a director and Carlo Rimbaldi's exquisite hand design. This is a classic effort by a man who would become famous for something wholly other than horror which is the grand tradition of horror cinema. Bob Martin catches him before he does any of his "real work". Having just watched Dressed to Kill, Michael Cain ain't to shabby himself.
Now for the feature article... Friday the 13th Part II. Steve Miner is brought in to direct this due to scheduling conflict with Sean Cunningham and history is made. Yet another Last House on the Left-er get a break. I don't even think that Craven truly gets recognized as a genius until Nightmare on Elm Street, but nobody even knows that's coming. The article details your typical sequel issues: Can we get the same effects guy? No, Savini's busy doing The Burning ironically. Can the sequel live up to the hype and box office prowess of the original film? We'll have to wait and see. How will the MPAA chop up the film prior to its release an effort to get an R rating? Fact: the only gore you should ever fear in a horror movie comes at the hands of the MPAA. When this movie blossoms, when the machete is firmly in forehead, when the spear has skewered two post-coital lovers... let's see what the readers of Fango have to say. Let's see what Siskel has to say. A legend is being built at Camp Crystal Lake, folks.
Beyond the feature comes a new picture from George A. Romero about a communal group of Ren-Fair geeks on Motorcycle. With Knightriders Romero gets a chance to step away from the Zed words pictures and takes aim at society from a socially critical point of view in a wholly new way. What fun! Savini and Ed Harris as opposing forces and who will soon work together on Creepshow alongside Romero and Stephen King. This kind of imagery makes me think of the Death Wheelers with an American spin all be it with a less supernatural twinge. The most important thing you'll read in the Knightriders article will be that Romero, King and Savini are working on Creepshow. They're trying to shoot it in 3D or widescreen or Black and White...something unique to bring audiences back to the big screen. Sounds like the predicament of the late 2010's to me. As always, get the asses in the seats.
There's a whole feature on Robert McKimson, director of Warner Bros. cartoons including Bugs Bunny, Foghorn Leghorn and Speedy Gonzalez. This is Fangoria still trying to figure out what it wants to be. I include this note because I consider it ironic that the forward to the entire magazine as well as 65% of the photo content of this magazine revolve around fantastic gore. Maybe we don't need to covering Looney Tunes anymore? So out of place (and I love Looney Tunes!).
House of Hammer... the syndicated television show scripted to save Hammer Studio after the crash of Lady Vanishes. This article recaps the episode list and plots along with a brief narrative on the near demise of hammer. Also important is the mention of just how Hammer plans on getting this thing distro'd in the US with such violent content in the first few episodes. While the show has its fans it really didn't save the studio for very long. A must watch for fans of Hammer if nothing else than to see what had become of their beloved studio. I myself a huge fan of Hammer do not care of the series much even though the story lines are excellent. Hopefully the new incarnation of Hammer will revisit some of these stories. Maybe flesh them out and give them the feature treatment. They're making up for lost time with their recent releases that are cutting edge. Hammer is Dead! Long Live Hammer!
As it is referred to in the magazine, THE ROGER CORMAN INTERVIEW! You want to understand the early days of the reincarnation of horror entertainment? Well you should read this interview and get familiar with Roger Corman. From Vincent Price to Karloff to SZA (that's Samuel Z Arkoff to you and Sammy Z to those who want to lose a part of their body) this is a crash course in what movie making was like post Universal Monster era. When the budgets are down but the ticket sales are up, come to Corman for a treat. I nearly forgot I was reading an interview from 1981. The first half of the interview discusses the Poe films, how they decided to start making them and how Vincent Price got involved. The real eye opener, the thing I took away from this, was that Corman stopped making the Poe movies because he wanted to stop repeating himself. He weened himself off them by transitioning some of the later adaptations into comedies and even mentioned consideration for a Gold Bug script that he would give thought to doing now that some time had passed. This is part 1. Part 2 should be legendary.
William Schloss... creator of the horror movie gimmick. You know him as the beloved, P.T. Barnum of horror, William Castle. I am a fan of his work. I do not think its schlocky and the gimmick's are what horror is all about. You get the chance to see the strange and unusual; A think you might not otherwise see. Well this plays fine in my brain. This article talks a bit about the nature of the gimmicks used to make Castle's film great, and with a documentary out about his life in recent years, much of what you'll read will seem like old info. One note I'd like to make is that Castle's concept of introducing a high pitched, anxiety inducing frequency has been used in many a horror picture though it usually comes in the form of a score. Those high pitched notes definitely put an audience on edge, perceptible or not. Maybe its time to re-explore the gimmicks of Castle since 3-D has come full circle. Horror theater needs Percepto and Emergo. Horror cinema needs a life insurance policy.
I'm not going to lie when I tell you that this issue of Fango was jampacked with some of the greatest horror had to offer circa 1981. Enter Tobe Hooper (the interview!). Tobe talks Texas Chainsaw, Eggshells (his previous theatrical release) and of course Funhouse, which had only just been released. There's a hodge podge of good info in here from the technical issues surrounding the Funhouse (wiring a set can be double hard work) to picking the right 57 piece orchestrated soundtrack for a movie about a carnival. This interview leaves you wanting a part 2. You have soooo many questions you want to ask Hooper about Salem's Lot and TCM that you forget that he's about to make Night Time with Stephen Spielberg... or as its name has been changed to... POLTER-FUCKING-GEIST (you can just leave the fucking out of that if it makes you uncomfortable).
So with this issue having that gory focus, a few interviews later we come to Inseminoid. Now I'll be perfectly honest that I have not as of yet seen this movie. It's on the list I assure you and after reading this piece about the finer points of making a sci-fi horror picture post-Star Wars I need to see it. The thing that stands out for me is the effort taken to separate itself from Star Wars. Hey, you can't beat Lucas, right? It's not worth trying to touch space films until after the holy trilogy has been completed (unless you're Star Trek... different nerds to appease). Inseminoid takes a darker vision of space and takes a gory look at its effects. I'll try to write this one up when I get around to it. Until then, it's got a name like Inseminoid. You can definitely get behind that.
There's a meet and greet with Elisabeth Brooks who plays Marsha Quist in the Howling. She discusses the finer points of the freezing cold nude scene, werewolf transformation. She also mentions that Joe Dante is a heck of a nice guy to work with, but that she wished her character's overall contribution to the film had been kept in tact rather than ending up on the cutting room floor with only limited visions of her physical sexuality left on screen. Looks like Fangoria started a scream queen/femme fatale slot here. Let's hope they continue.
Next, Fango takes a look back at horror in comic books starting before EC Comics got the books burning with a Look at Dr. Fate, Dr. Occult, The Spectre, Batman and Zatara. Some of this may be more obscure than the casual comic book will enjoy, but the best thing to take from it is that since the age where super heroes have been created they have been fighting spooks, spectres and at time have been super creepies themselves. I'm still reeling at the panel of Detective Comics where Batman states vampires can be killed with... ready... a silver bullet. Batman! C'mon! I guess we need to get Larry Talbot on the screen sooner rather than later. Having never heard of Dr. Occult before this opens up a new line of archiving I have to look through. It's supposed to be part of a multi-part series so hopefully each one is as informative as this.
Clash of the Titans makes a brief appearance in Fango #12 with a mail interview with Ray Harryhausen where production of the film is discussed. A brief look at the master at work, Harryhausen looks at COTT as the natural sequel to Jason and the Argonauts and there's mention of doing a Dante's Inferno film. Who dropped the ball?
At the end of the day there's a recap of news to come. Check out this list of films that are discussed briefly: Shock Treatment, Videodrome, Bladerunner, An American Werewolf in London, Ghost Story, Happy Birthday to Me, Cat People and Stab... Stab. Stab that is Fangoria's rebuttal to commentary that horror needs to look at Kramer vs. Kramer to trying and get its filmmaking up to par. Stab. ... Not the Stab from Scream. Well Stab may share a director with Kramer vs. Kramer and Meryl Streep, but I don't think its going to make the headway that Fango thinks it might especially since it gets renamed Still of the Night (tee hee). If you ever thought that film critics don't get horror movies, the way you'll know for certain is that they throw Kramer vs. Kramer up when the talk about the quality of film making in a horror movie. People like that need to be strapped into a chair and be forced to listen to Golden Lights by the Smiths.
Hey, if you know where this music is used in later pictures please leave a comment below. I've been racking my brain, but, as usual, I got nothin'.
There's a lot to look forward to two years into Fangoria. Keep 'em coming Bob Martin. Gore for all! Where does horror go from here? Only Fango knows for certain.