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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fango for Dummies #15: Jamie Lee Curtis and Debra Hill vs. Siskel and Ebert in a Tag Team Cage Match


Welcome to another installment of Fango for Dummies. This week we'll be tackling Issue #15. Now in the early issues I was begging Bob Martin to make with the horror and leave out the gobs of Science Fiction that seemed to fill in the rather vacuous spaces in between horror articles. Thank you, Bob for listening to us from beyond the years and making with the creepies and the crawlies. This issue features Halloween II on the cover in all it's pumpkin-skull glory as well as Miss Jamie Lee Curtis prepping for the after-Halloween II life of a soon to be former Scream Queen. We also take note of Tom Burman in part 2 of the in depth coverage of his work.Swamp Thing, Hitchcock on TV. Shock Treatment (Rocky Horror's even more cultish sequel) and more Harryhausen. It's good to be a monster fan, but something lurks just beyond the cover. Something deep and dark; more sinister than any latex creation or Karo syrup dyed red. Siskel and Ebert SPEAK! Let's get started.

Bob Martin gives a detailed account of just what it takes to get a movie into Fangoria. He discusses the scrutiny with which Fango chooses its victims, the questions that he asks as an editor and some of the perils that have hindered his coverage in the past fourteen issues. Seems Brian DePalma's agent is a pain in the ass. We would have loved more on Dressed to Kill, but alas, no dice... at least not yet. What I found especially fascinating was Martin's desire to not offer too many opinions on movies. Seems he would actually make an effort to NOT see certain movies prior to covering them and would simply be offering a more objective view of the movies. The story of the movies. The making of... This is excellent journalism and it's one of the reason that early Fango can be considered far superior to newer Fangoria. Today Fango insists on seeing everything. Covering everything for better or for worse and giving opinions on it all. The audience has no say.  Even further, because the coverage is so broad, how is the reader supposed to truly know the shit from the sunshine? I don't pretend that Bob Martin maintained the highest moral standards at all points during his career as editor, but from what I've read in the first fifteen thus far, Bob covered movies well and he didn't both with every piece o' crap (though Saturn 3 is highly debatable).

From the Postal Zone... folks want a monthly Fango publication. It's still bi-monthly at this point. Also the readers still hate Siskel and Ebert and there's even a censored expletive. My favorite letter is from a fan who talks about the censorship in the UK far surpassing the censorship in the US. The Video Nasty age is upon us horror fans, and while it isn't 1984 yet, we all no the strict moral code that wrought pain and suffering to many a British horror fan is on the horizon... stalking our genre. Waiting. Beware.

This issue sees the beginning of a set visit for Wes Craven, pre-Nightmare on Elm Street, Swamp Thing. I never realized that Bernie Wrightson was responsible for the creation of Swamp Thing in the early 70's. I knew that House of Mystery and House of Secrets existed but was not aware that my favorite horror artist had created him or that there were striking similarities to The Heap from the 40's. There are some shots of Durrock getting his makeup applied look tedious and claustrophobic. Adrienne Barbeau will be featured in the next installment. My sperm donation cup runneth over (no disrespect). Also, Avco Embassy has a new head in Frank Capra, Jr. if you care. We do love their logo and their releases.

From My Bloody Valentine
Tom Burman discusses his work on Cat People remake, My Bloody Valentine and the heavily guarded Beast Within effects work. Now, we all know that these three films help to epitomize the special effects work of the early 80's along with the work of Bottin, Baker and Winston. Burman often seems left out of the conversation. The Beast Within transformation should make you think otherwise. Burman is even quoted as saying that the once you resort to gore that you've lost something. You shouldn't have to resort to gore in special effects to get a reaction from your audience. Now that's a special effects guy with some integrity, and while I'm a gobs of gore kinda guy, I can appreciate the sentiment especially with the likes of one Tom Savini running around dismembering every Tom, Dick and Betsy Palmer. Burman also worked on some cut scenes from Heaven's Gate which I was soundly trouncing this very evening as movie that I could not bare to see again (while watching the Deer Hunter of course).


Fans of Debra Hill will enjoy Fangoria's celebration and discussion of her vision of filmmaking including how she went from shooting her own 8mm films to meeting up with THE Frank Capra, Frank Capra Jr and Frank III. Apparently there was early consideration for a sequel to Escape from New York which is interesting because I was just watching Escape from LA and thinking that John Carpenter wouldn't direct Halloween II because he said that he had already made Halloween... what made Escape from LA any different?  Hill hated censorship and discusses some of the recutting of the original Halloween. Hill even mentions that Halloween II was considered for 3-D shooting, but that there was no cost effective way to do it. Fast forward about thirty years and we are STILL talking about Halloween in 3-D coming to fruition.


From there we jump right into the arms of one Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis to you). She talks about everything from Terror Train to the Fog (and how she hated her performance in it) to the pending Halloween sequel. She walks us through her career, her childhood, Prom Night and her desire to be an actress and not a horror film star. We all know the story. We also know that she finally came out to her first and only horror convention experience at HorrorHound just this month. She hasn't forgotten us. It's a great interview with some classic JLC pics. This is a must read for fans of Halloween and Jamie Lee.

The second part of the Hitchcock TV show retrospective continues which continues the episode guide. Then the fourth installment of horror in comics continues to completely bore me. I love comic books. The era that Ron Goulart has chosen to expose is not interesting from a story or artistic perspective Maybe I need to go read about The Heap?

Nice Fucking Dog. Let's eat it (Better yet, let the dog eat YOU)
The Eagle has landed... or maybe it's the vulture and the turkey. But truthfully it's Siskel and Ebert who were interviewed by Fangoria after readers began to take issue with the dynamic duo's critique of horror films. Both are quick to point out that they have enjoyed horror movies and even included Halloween in their top ten list of that year. They also make mention of The Howling, Funhouse and Dressed to Kill. They then go on to firmly bash Friday the 13th pt 2, The Burning, Maniac and the original Friday the 13th. In there eyes, horror appeals to the lowest common denominator. The love of horror movies is a misplaced sexual abnormality that results in the inability to establish meaningful relationships or is the focus of individuals unable to form said relationships. Displaced way of dealing with sex? I mean... I like boobs. Horror movies have boobs, and I'm familiar with the theory that these fuckers are talking about, but as the article points out, Sneak Previews is also classified by some as low bro entertainment. Suck it, opinion queens! Siskel thought the letter writing campaign headed by Fangoria to protest Siskel's review of Friday the 13th was funny. He only received a few carbon copies. Note: We started our own letter writing campaign yet again last year in much the same way as Bob Martin. Did Siskel find that humorous? No. He's dead. Tra la la la la. They go on to discuss the MPAA's rating system and the effects of V for Violence rating as opposed to the use of an X rating or Romero's Dawn of the Dead going out Adults Only. There's no resolution and none of this truly goes anywhere until we get a PG-13 and NC-17 rating years later. Let the letter writing campaign continue. (and no matter how mean spirited you think my treatment of Siskel and Ebert is, well... I don' t give a fuck and am happy to troll and flame them up).

The monthly installment of the Pit and the Pen column by Alex Gordon features a discussion of ventriloquists in horror starting with the Great Gabbo and Dead of Night and working up through to Devil Doll, the Twilight Zone episode "The Dummy" and Magic. It's a fine history of this terrifying subgenre.

The Harryhausen interview continues with more stills of his creations. He goes through the trials and tribulations of creating effects dependent pictures. It's good for the effects dorks and the stills are purty. The Shock Treatment interview with Richard O'Brien makes it clear that you shouldn't expect Rocky Horror II and that Richard has no regrets for the production of the transition from stage to movie.Most of the cast of Rocky Horror shows up for Shock Treatment and of course Jessica Harper. Not my favorite flick, but has a couple groovy tunes and remember kiddies, don't do anything that damages you.

You be the judge.

King Cobra, Ultraman, The Thing and American Werewolf in London are the movies people are talking about in the news. Personal favorite The Beastmaster as well. Also the Fangoria reader's poll is in and includes everything you'd expect from these years. Take a gander. Bloodsucking Freaks is getting a re-release under that name rather than it's original name The Incredible Torture Show (TITS). The Grim Reaper is in production starring Tisa Farrow post-Zombie. 3-D is threatening to revive itself and attack you with all its terrifying dimensions. Poltergeist is in production under great secrecy. Oooo... Spielberg!

Coming up next issue will be a feature on Ghost Story (one of my personal favorites), The Elephant mna, Quest for Fire, Altered States and screenwriter Lawrence Cohen (ooooooo).  We'll be bringingin you a new Fango for Dummies two weeks from Tuesday.

Until then Buy Back Issues... they're like history books for horror fans.

-Dr. TERROR Ate Count Fangor's Dirty Underwear

Note: Who the fuck is Death Studios and where are my Don Post masks?


We are not amused.







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