Friday, February 13, 2015

Fave cult and horror movie magazines

A visit to my local San Antonio Barnes & Noble in search of Christmas presents last December was fruitful for a couple of reasons. The first reason was that they now carry new vinyl records (I bought Weezer's latest, which is just great). The second reason was, when I scanned the newsstand, my heart leapt with joy to see several of my favorite cult movie magazines still in print. Okay, so I haven't been ina bookstore for a while.

Ages ago I wrote a post lamenting the late, great weird movie magazines, but I was delighted to be able to pick up these new issues. Not only do these pubs keep me connected to the world of weird, old and new, they also bring back happy memories of my misspent youth. So, in no particular order...

The Phantom of the Movies' Videoscope. Packed with tons of reviews and interviews with some of the most interesting cult figures in filmdom, this mag never disappoints. My collection goes back at least a decade but I need to order some back issues to complete it.

The Winter 2015 ish is typically awesome. Production designer Joe Alves tells talks about the making of Jaws on the 40th anniversary of the world's first summer blockbuster. Animal House alum Tim Matheson reminisces about his career, including his stint as the voice of Jonny Quest.

Regular features in Videoscope include Nancy Naglin's Art-House Video, festival coverage, Rob Freese's Drive-In Dementia, Dan Cziraky's MST-ie Madness, the Phantom's own Joy of Sets and the New Release Shelf, which helps point the way for my on-demand and Netflix choices. I mean, how else would you know that there was a new documentary about conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, who starred in the ultra-bizarre and inadvertently hilarious Chained for Life, one of the most psychotronic films of all time? And that it was directed by Leslie Zemeckis, wife of Robert? Check the magazine out here — and help preserve the printed word!

Shock Cinema is another old-timer that probably captures the spirit of Michael Weldon's much-missed Psychotronic Video Magazine most of all (minus the typos), and the caliber of interview subjects they manage to snag is always impressive. The latest issue has interviews with punk legend John Doe, '70s beauty Angel Tompkins and utility character Richard Anderson.

I love to read publisher Steven Puchalski's Page One rants about modern culture, city dwelling and anything else that comes to his mind. He was one of the first to grieve when New York became Disney-fied, something I wholeheartedly agree with. Every time I come to town, I walk to Times Square and think, "Jesus! The Lion King is still playing?"

Then, we dive into capsule reviews of bizarre stuff like American network TV movies (back when they were decent) — as well as obscure, forgotten films by famous directors like Hellman, Polanski and Malle. Puchalski also generously plugs other magazines and tiny video distribution companies offering essential product (like the aforementioned network TV movies) who would otherwise not get a platform.

Rue Morgue. The new kid on the block, historically speaking, it's nevertheless almost 20 years old and going strong, supported by efforts in the multiplatform world. Not only is there a print book, it has a substantial web presence and participates in a lot of live events. The magazine also has an aggressive publishing schedule of 11 issues per year.

Of all the current cult movie mags, this is one of the most lavish. All glossy, four-color pages with rich art and graphics, Rue Morgue features regular departments covering new flicks, graphic novels, obscurities highlighted in It Came From Bowen's Basement and new releases in DVD and Blu-Ray. In the latest issue alone, I learned that Archie comics has gone zombie, CHUD is turning 30, and the guy who wrote Coscarelli's marvelous Bubba Ho-Tep is back with a new prison tale of terror.

Check out Rue Morgue's web site and see all of the amazing things they're up to.

Filmfax. Another wonderful old timer, this one never disappoints. As its tagline avers, it's a six-ounce ton of intelligent fun. The new issue has the first chapter in a continuing story of actress Barbara Payton, whose love affair with uninhibited sex and booze was no match for the Hollywood buzzsaw. Also covered is Bela Lugosi's reappearance onstage in Balderston's creaky old Dracula during World War II, when escapism was at its height and poor broke Bela needed all the work he could get.

There's also an illuminating portrait of Jane Henson, wife of Jim, and how she stepped out of her husband's looming shadow to do some remarkable work of her own. And there's an interview with the late Robert Easton, an actor and noted voice coach who ran an ad in Daily Variety promoting his classes for years and years.

Filmfax speaks to the monster kid in all of us, especially us Baby Boomers who were in the 11-14 age range when Universal released all of its horror classics in the 1960s and '70s, giving birth to horror hosts, toys, commercials, cultural shifts and fanaticism that still resonates today.

UPDATE: I went to the Filmfax site to copy its URL for this story, and it looks like there hasn't been any activity for a while. Jeez, was this the last issue?

UPDATED UPDATE: I got the new issue at Barnes & Noble today. Guess they're just not updating their web site. Now I can finish the Barbara Payton and Lugosi stories.

Other in-print genre magazines of note:

Fangoria. Almost 40 years old, this colorful pub keeps churning out the horror news along with its sister publication Gorezone. The publication has also dabbled in film production and distribution over the years, including the bizarre 1991 Children of the Night — with Karen Black!

HorrorHound. Slick, glossy and aggressively multiplatform, this pub even has its own convention.

Little Shoppe of Horrors. Richard Klemensen has been publishing this Hammer and English-centric horror magazine since 1972 —an amazing feat. Issues scheduled for 2015 will cover Showtime's Penny Dreadful and Hammer's 1961 Phantom of the Opera. I have many issues of this magazine, which always features insanely in-depth coverage and rare photos. Hard to find in stores but issues can be ordered from its web site.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You didn't mention "Famous Monsters of Filmland"in your update. With the passing of Forrest J. Ackerman, is anyone still carrying that torch?


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