Monday , 17 December 2018

Extra! Extra! Fangoria Magazine is back!

The world has been a bit topsy-turvy of late, to say the least, with many changes brought on by technology and evolving consumer tastes, and not always for the better. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is our love of horror, which is perhaps at a level it hasn’t been at for quite some time. Whatever the reasons for horror’s rise in popularity, be it an escape from today’s current climate, not just political and social, but, literally, actual climate, or just a wealth of quality product being released, our favorite genre is in the midst of a renaissance. From the enormous box office success of The Conjuring franchise, Stephen King’s ItA Quiet Place and the recent Halloween, to the small screen’s world of The Walking Dead, Supernatural, now in its 14th! season, and Netflix’ Stranger Things, not to mention Oscar wins for The Shape of Water and Get Out, horror entertainment has become omnipresent in our culture and our lives. But something has been missing these past few years, something which brought our passion for horror to the forefront and fed it with info, insight and in depth coverage like no other. Yes, the earth may be a bit askew, but it’s closer to getting back on its axis now with the return of THE horror mag, the one and only, Fangoria!

Fangoria began back in 1979, as a companion magazine to publishers Norman Jacobs’ and Kerry O’Quinn’s sci-fi mag, Starlog. First conceived as a periodical dedicated more to fantasy, it wasn’t long before the magazine moved away from the ‘fan’ part of its name and more towards the ‘gor,’ as it soon fully embraced the horror genre. This was perhaps the greatest era for horror movies, with the rise of the slasher and zombie films that came in the wake of Halloween, Dawn of the Dead and Friday the 13th. It was the time when serial killers like Michael Myers, Jason and Freddy Krueger became stars. Not only did Fangoria feature articles and interviews with the actors who played these icons, along with horror auteurs such as George A. Romero, John Carpenter and David Cronenberg, it covered in depth those tasked with bringing the directors’ imaginative monsters, bloody mayhem and human transformations to life via the latest groundbreaking special f/x. Artists like Dick Smith, of Exorcist fame, inspired a new crop of f/x wizards, Rick Baker, Tom Savini and Rob Bottin, who, with the help of Fangoria‘s extensive coverage, in full, bloody color, became stars in their own right.

Shepherding Fangoria magazine in its formative years was editor-in-chief Bob Martin, affectionately known as ‘Uncle Bob.’ It was under his watch that regular Fango features began like their exclusive set visits, the Postal Zone, where readers, from regular fans to Stephen King himself, voiced their opinions, good or bad, the Scream Greats poster inserts, and the iconic film strip on the left side of the magazine. It was also during this time that the first Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors conventions began, in New York City, where fans got to meet legends from Clive Barker to Christopher Lee. Martin stayed aboard until 1985, and went on to co-write the screenplays with Frank Henenlotter for his films, Frankenhooker and Basket Case 3. David Everett and then David McDonnell took over the reins for a spell, before a young man named Tony Timpone, who began his career as an editorial assistant, became the full-fledged editor-in-chief in 1987. Under Timpone, Fangoria became synonymous with horror as they expanded the brand into movies, a Fangoria Radio show hosted by Dee Snider and scream queen, Debbie Rochon, a sister publication, Gorezone, more Weekend of Horrors across the country, and the Chainsaw Awards, which honored the best in horror cinema. Magazine columns written by Tony’s right-hand man, managing editor, Michael Gingold, like the Video Chopping list and DVD Dungeon, became regular, and essential features. After Timpone left in 2010 (after issue #292) to head the new DVD/VOD company, Fangoria Frightfest, yet remaining as ‘Editor Emeritus’, Chris Alexander took over, adding new columns such as Trash Compactor and Sound Shock, along with special Fangoria Legends issues dedicated to horror maestros, George A. Romero and John Carpenter.

Alas, without going into too much detail, Fangoria ultimately fell upon hard times, with reduced advertising revenue due to a changing marketplace as the internet became the place where many sought to get their information. While Fangoria maintained a website of their own where fans could get more up-to-the-minute news, the magazine’s last published issue was #344 in October of 2015, followed by several on-line only issues up to #348. Horror fans the world over lamented the fall of this stalwart beacon of horror. But lo and behold, is that the sound of blood-drenched pages hurtling through a printing press once again? In February of 2018, it was announced that the Dallas-based movie and publishing studio, Cinestate, had bought Fangoria and would be bringing the defunct print magazine back from the dead. Yes, it’s alive!!!

To celebrate the relaunch of Fangoria, Forbidden Planet hosted a spectacular event at their store in NYC this past October. Having attended their other special event there just a few months earlier, when the grue crew from Deep Red Magazine gathered to revel in the relaunch of the beloved Chas. Balun’s cherished publication (read all about it here), there was no way the Gore 4 could miss this highly anticipated occasion. Tasked with digging Fangoria out of the grave is new editor-in-chief, Phil Nobile Jr. Phil, the former editor-at-large of the Alamo Drafthouse movie news website and magazine, Birth.Movies.Death., promises to preserve the things that made Fangoria so great, while evolving it to stay current with the times. Phil was on hand at Forbidden Planet’s event, along with Fango legends, Tony Timpone and Michael Gingold, and former contributing editor, Samuel Zimmerman. Tony and Michael have both been contributing to Dread Central of late, and Tony could recently been seen on Eli Roth’s History of Horror on AMC, while Samuel serves as one of the curators of the streaming horror service, Shudder. The added great news is that all three will be contributing to Fangoria in its new incarnation.

It seems rather fitting, and certainly timely, that Michael Myers from Halloween would grace the rekindled first issue’s cover. John Carpenter’s original classic was released the year before Fangoria was born, and the two have been intertwined ever since, with Halloween giving rise to the slasher film, and Fangoria there to cover it. Now, both have been resurrected from the ashes to terrorize and entertain us once again. (Check out our review of the new Halloween here.) And yes, that recognizable Fangoria logo that’s been around since issue #2 is back along with the iconic film strip. Longtime fans of the magazine will be happy to learn that also returning are the Postal Zone, Monster Invasion, Nightmare Library and the Classified Ad Vault. New features look to include Fest Finds and Scene Queen. Additional contributors include noted writers, Tim Lucas, S. Craig Zahler and Tom Weaver.

Weaver, author of numerous books, including Universal Horrors, The Creature Chronicles and I Talked with a Zombie, and a frequent contributor to Fangoria over the years, was also on hand to sign copies of the new magazine for fans who had lined up the block on Broadway. Also in the house were Michael J. Seidlinger, author of the new Fangoria presents novel, My Pet Serial Killer (the second in their new line of published books, following Preston Fassel’s Our Lady of the Inferno), Brian O’Halloran of NJ filmmaker Kevin Smith’s Clerks‘ fame and none other than original Fango publisher, Norman Jacobs himself. Everyone, from those involved directly with the magazine, to the fans, were beyond elated to have Fangoria back in business again. The importance of this evening and how much it meant to so many drew a few surprises for those who stuck around awhile.


The one and only impressario of bad taste and exploding innards, Troma Entertainments head guru, Lloyd Kaufman, stopped by to lend an air of crass to the proceedings. The Gore 4 was happy to meet up once again with the man who gave us The Toxic Avenger, Terror Firmer and The Class of Nuke ‘Em High. The follow-ups to the latter, Return to Nuke ‘Em High, Volume 1 and the soon-to-be-released to home video, Return to Return to Class of Nuke ‘Em High Aka Vol. 2 (as soon as they figure out how to fit that title onto the Blu-rays and DVD covers) are not to be missed if you’re a fan of every bodily fluid imaginable spilled across the screen. Also spotted in the shop was The Walking Dead‘s f/x genius, and the director of many of their most ambitious episodes, Greg Nicotero. Greg, like so many other masters of horror, from Mick Garris to James Gunn to Guillermo del Toro, have been inspired by Fangoria, as well as its predecessor, Famous Monsters of Filmland, Forry Ackerman’s cherished magazine that started it all.

For this particular Gore 4er, Fangoria was always there since the late teen years. Never one to subscribe, I preferred getting the issue at the newsstand, anxiously looking forward to gazing upon what startling image would grace its cover, then perusing all the issues to pick out the most pristine copy. For a short period of time, while working in NYC, not far from Fangoria‘s offices on Park Place, I’d stroll down during lunch and pick up the latest issue right from their front desk, sometimes even getting to speak with Uncle Bob himself, who was always gracious in answering any questions I had on upcoming films. Remember, this was long before the internet, and resources like Fangoria were often the only place to find out about what horror releases were coming down the pike. It was an invaluable and essential source for horror aficionados like myself. Fangoria was a constant in life, 10 times a year, up there with the Yankees as something I could always depend on. OK, the Yankees saw a lot of lean years under Steinbrenner in the 80’s/early 90’s, but they were always around. When Fango went away, so did a piece of my wretched soul, along with a chunk of my youth. Now that it is back, the world seems a better place. OK, the world is a bloody mess. But maybe that’s why horror is especially popular now. We need that escape from the horrors of the real world, and horror not only offers that, but it gives us a means of coping with issues that may be tough to face otherwise. Horror can tackle everything from race to climate change, and be entertaining in the process. It invites exploration and critical analysis, and no one is better at that than the talented folks behind Fangoria. Welcome back, old friend, you’ve been sorely missed.

Fangoria will be published quarterly – that’s four times per year – at 100 or so pages a pop. You can keep an eye out at your local comic book store, or better yet, subscribe directly from the source at Fangoria. And be sure to follow Fangoria on Facebook.

— words and music by Brian de Castro

11 comments

  1. Yeah that was a great event, it was good to see all those guys, and the fans there were super-stoked. So cool to have Fangoria back, especially in print!
    And another great, in-depth article from Gore4!
    Thanks!

    • You’re welcome, and thanks for the compliment. Yes, it was a really cool, special event to attend. You could see how so many people are passionate towards Fangoria and are happy to have it back in the world where it belongs.

  2. Hey Brian, really enjoyed this passionate testimonial to Fangoria. They need you to contribute to their quarterly as well!!

    • Thanks, dude. To ever get to write something for Fangoria would be an incredible honor, but I’m more than happy just to be able to write about the magazine’s triumphant return right here.

  3. Great job. Brian! Brought back a lot of wonderful memories. And now we’re ready to begin a whole bunch of new ones, thanks to the support of superfans like you. @tonytimpone1

    • Thanks for the stamp of approval! Great to see you over the weekend at the NYC Horror Film Festival. The wealth of talent and the abundance of quality films there, along with the enormous success of horror at the box office, and even with the major awards shows, proves that horror is more popular than ever. And thankfully, Fangoria is back to cover it all like no one else.

  4. Great review & I am going to get my subscription today. Gore 4 does it again.

    • Thanks! And yes, a subscription is the best way to go, because not only are you assured of getting each bloody issue delivered right to your door, you’ll also get it a couple of weeks or so before it hits the newsstands or comic book stores. I mean, who wants to wait for something so great?

  5. Great article Brian! I subscribed at the New York City Horror Film Festival at the Fangoria booth. So glad it’s back!

    • Thanks, Dave! Good to see Fangoria was well represented at the recent NYCHFF with their table and more. I’m in the midst of doing a write-up of the full NYCHFF weekend, including Fangoria’s presence, as well as your incredible short film, The Silver – stay tuned!

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