Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fango for Dummies #14: Shock FX Special Means a Testosterone Battle for Latex Testicles!!!

Ladies and germs, Fango for Dummies has returned in all its sarcastic glory. This week we'll be tackling issue #14 of Fangoria which is from the supposed heyday of the magazine. While I would definitely say that each magazine is filled with quite a few classics from one of our favorite ages in horror, the story thus far has been Fango trying to find its identity. What works. What doesn't work. What interviews and columns will become regular institutions and when oh when will Fangoria stop trying to be its sister magazine, Starlog (this shit is getting downright incestful at times). I'm gonna tell you right now that as a horror fan issue #14 is YOUR issue! The cover features The Prowler, Dead & Buried, An American Werewolf in London (Rick Baker's name on the cover is a good sign along with Stan Winston's name and Tom Savini). Carpenter on Halloween 2 AND The Thing!!! This, my friends, is the SHOCK FX SPECIAL edition. What a perfect way to bring back one of my favorite regularly schedule columns (this and 1980x).

First off, Bob Martin talks about the flaws in the MPAA rating system. He's an advocate for a more specific list of objectionable material in films on display so that parents can make a determination rather than a ratings board. He talks about the first time he saw Sleeping Beauty, the Blob and how he learned to realize what was scary and what was fun. He's a horror fan. He's one of us. Thank fuck his magazine started acting like it.

The Postal Zone has a truly priceless and timeless piece of history. I've included the letter from the reader here, so you can see that things haven't really changed all that much. People are still screaming for movies to be transitioned on to the format of the day. At this point they're talking about movies that we couldn't imagine NOT having on a VHS. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hills Have Eyes, Dawn of the Dead, Eraserhead. I mean, wait till they see what happens with the financial viability of nearly all those movies. Box sets. Remakes. Marketing. Sequels. Yes, there's money in them there films. VHS boom will deliver you soon. Mr. Gebhardt. Wait till folks wanna get a decent copy of The Haunting of Julia in about 30 years and low and behold someone finally puts it out there (because I asked them to of course!). We're only finally getting the Town that Dreaded Fucking Sundown! Video Dead too! Somebody take this letter. Copy it and insert a few movies that need to be put out on DVD/Blu-ray and send it to Chris Alexander. If he publishes it, let us know. Yes, that's a real challenge. Peter J. Gebhardt won't sue you for plagiarism (he lives at friggin' Mansion House).

Alex Gordon in his Pit and the Pen column focus on German horror. He goes through Krimi  (although doesn't call it that) which was featured by James McCormick in our Italian Horror Week back in July and also touches on some of the common formulas in the murder mystery genre that seem to evolve into exploitation cinema or horror. Klaus Kinski is named dropped a few times as well as the School Girl Report films which were recently re-released by Synapse Films. I actually have a copy of one of those to review, but haven't had the chance to do so away from the wife's unprying eyes. The last thing I need to be accused of is... being... a ... perve. Best to wait till she's out of town.

John Carpenter briefly discusses his involvement with Halloween 2 and his new project The Thing which will be shooting in 1981. It's the same lines that this 2012 crowd has heard over and over again, so at least there's consistency. They describe Carpenter as having fulfilled the promise of Dark Star's success. It's hard to believe that at one point in time Carpenter was Dark Star, Halloween, The Fog and a few made for TV movies (this is just post-production on Escape from New York). Carpenter's plan are to start a music label and produce more music in the vane of The Fog and Halloween. I think we're all behind that project, right? Kurt Russel isn't even cast as MacReady yet. We hope he gets the part.

Immediately following, Rick Baker goes through the classic story of just how the Howling effects came to be, his reaction to Bottin's work and how it effected his American Werewolf in London effects.  Not much that hasn't become part of horror legend and lore, but then again, you get to read it coming out his own mouth. I can't lie when I say that he sounds quite full of himself which is exactly what his reputation suggests. I'm a Bottin man when it comes to werewolf transformations myself. Landis called The Howling exploitatoin. Baker is essentially taking credit for it. Guys... give it a rest.

Dan O'Bannon's name pops up again after a brief mention in the Carpenter piece only this time to discuss his involvement with Dead & Buried. If you haven't seen this picture then you're doing yourself a true disservice. This thing makes it onto all of those lists of  "X number of horror movies you've never seen". This primarily focuses on some plot elements and Stan Winston's stunning effects work. Still creepy to this day and perfect for Halloween. I believe you can pick this up on Netflix and it may even be streaming on their instant service. The picture above should be enough to entice you... either the nurse or the needle. You prick (pick).

At this point Savini is at work on a little movie called Creepshow after finishing Eyes of a Stranger, The Burning and The Prowler. I have become a very big Prowler fan in the last year. I had glanced over it when I was kid only seeing select scenes on trailer reels. Older now, wiser, I love very ounce of blood and gore in that picture. Savini's happy to be working with Romero. He thinks the premise to Friday the 13th pt 2 is preposterous (and yet he'll be back in a few years kiddies). There's some nice effects stills. Check em out. Savini eludes to Stephen King's appearance in Creepshow and that he transforms into "something". Savini is trying to depart the splatter movies. Seems like he's aiming for creature design which becomes evident in Creepshow.  I was hoping to find a nugget on Nightmare in a Damaged Brain but no such luck.

Next up is a classic piece of Fango brilliance. They cover the career of Tom Burman who's worked on everything. This is the reason to pick up this issue if you aren't interested in reading the same old quoted lines from Carpenter, Savini and Baker (loved quoted lines but we've heard them). There are stills of classic monsters in creations. Crew photos of Happy Birthday to Me, preparing Melissa Sue Anderson's double, the Demon Seed creature, the Prophecy make up, The Devil's Rain which is enjoying a nice cult and 35mm resurgency, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Phantom of the Paradise and even Empire of the Ants. Great stills. Some excellent commentary on many of his make up and effects work. Wow.

Then comes the great MPAA ratings debate. There's discussion of new systems that could be put into place, experiments with various systems and how the MPAA system might be modified to make it more informative and penalize horror and indie pictures less. There's even a mention of an age 13 restrictions called R-13 (which also has a companion R-17). This is a great primer in the history behind the rating system including who has been called to design said systems over the years. Not much has changed in the form of theatrical ratings, but our TV ratings today seem to mimic some of the suggestions from that period. Dawn of the Dead is championed as a great hero going out unrated and Phantasm challenged the board and won (others, unfortunately, were not so lucky).

The Femme Fatale of the month is Jenny Agutter, star of An American Werewolf in London and Logan's Run. It's funny how everyone loves to talk about David Naughton's previous work as a Dr. Pepper spokesman. Even Godzilla was a Dr. Pepper spokesman. Maybe I need to switch from nerd beverage A1 - Diet Mountain Dew and go for the big DP... um I mean Dr. Pepper of course. I'm a Terror, You're a Terror... Wouldn't you like to be a Terror Too? (shirt coming soon if I can ever find the correct font). So Agutter gets her day in the son. you learn all about her and then you really don't hear much from her after that. So there's that. Hello Nurse!

There's the third installment on horror comics, but quite honestly... it's boring and I can't say I have any frame of reference in which to discuss it. I don't know these comics, the characters and frankly, they suck a little. We're not talking about Tales from the Crypt here. Moving on.

There's a long winded feature on Stan Winston that focuses on Heartbeeps. I have never heard of this movie, not seen this movie and will not attempt to make commentary on this movie. I don't think I actually care to see this one from what I've read, but would be glad to have you sway me to your side. Either way, lots of still of the production of that movie and even a great shot of the prep work behind The Exterminator decapitation sequence. Check it out.

Clash of the Titan fans get ready to lose your shit. The Ray Harryhausen gives the first part of a two part interview and the whole damn thing is about Clash. He discusses filming, filming on location, set design and his stall of creature effect and stop motion. It's a chance to visit with the master. It's also a chance to keep effects practical and out of the computer. Harryhausen inspires us all and continues to entertain young film enthusiasts to this day and this is a nice way to showcase his most popular work.

Chris Walas is a name that I am not wholly familiar with. His work on the other hand has made me laugh countless times, most recently at the Italian Splatterfest in Phoenixville, PA at the Colonial Theater. Chris Wllas is the man responsible for the gillmen in Screamers aka Island of the Fishmen. These hokey, near Creature from the Black Lagoon knock offs are absolutely ridiculous. He didn't do the original Fishmen; just the Fishmen built to film additional gory/bloody scenes to get this picture an R rating. Imagine that. I've heard that they did that on Tourist Trap as well. It'd be nice if we could keep films off the cutting room floor and adding more to them to shock and exploit their audience.

We're getting toward the end here, but there's some very interesting film on their way to the cineplex (did they even have cineplexes back then). Videodrome, Basket Case and Hammer House of Horror are about to make it big. I'll be doing a full scale review of the recent Synapse Films release of Hammer House of Horror in a tidy DVD box set. The release note says they've secured rights to screen it in Mexico so far. Ain't that something. You can keep your eyes out for the Hammer House of Horror review at WWW.LIBERALDEAD.COM  Also coming soon, Dune, Student Bodies, Saturday the 14th and apparently... 3-D might make a comeback? Just ask Captain EO. Cat People, Bloodsucking Freaks... it's a good time to be a horror fan. The big question... will Joe Dante do the sequel to The Howling? Right now, he'll just stick with the romantic comedy Breaking Up.

Coming up in the next issue will be the sequel to the Harryhausen interview and some behind the scenes goodies with Jamie Lee Curtis on the set of Halloween II (my favorite Halloween... maybe... changes every five years or so). They're going to talk with Richard O'Brien about Shock Treatment which completely took my by surprise. They'll go on the set of Swamp Thing which I only watched again recently and forgot just how awesome Adrienne Barbeau is. The monster ain't so bad either.

One last note: With Don Post Studios going out of business I wanted to feature one of the advertisements from Fangoria. This is real history for me. These masks and others from years to follow were always on my wishlist yet I never owned a single one. See the Halloween III mask there? Right there!  Neat right? Halloween III hasn't even been made yet.

Fare thee well Donald Post Studios!

-Dr. TERROR abides.

Fuck the MPAA. Fuck Ebert. Fuck me.


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