One of the most delightful comebacks of 2018 was the return of Deep Red magazine, which carried on the editorial vision of departed founder Chas Balun for the 21st century using a combination of veteran Deep Red scribes and newer, like-minded contributors. The end of 2019 proved this comeback was no one-off when Deep Red returned for another new issue, once again masterminded by the first issue’s editor, John Szpunar.
The latest issue contains 120 pages’ worth of material laid out on slick, full-color pages (a first for this storied publication). The contents can largely be broken down into three categories: feature reviews, interviews and essays/thought pieces. Like its predecessor, issue #2 finds a meeting place between modern concerns of horror fandom and the time-sharpened wisdom of an old school horror/cult film mindset.
The reviews cover everything from vintage obscurities like Invasion Of The Girl Snatchers to modern fare like Mandy. Schlockmania’s favorite is a piece on Ed Wood’s forgotten sexploitation film Take It Out In Trade by Subhuman publisher Cecil Doyle, a combination of facts about the film’s tormented releases in the past and present as well as musings on the wonder of seeing Wood feeling free onscreen playing a transvestite. Also of note: a tag-team piece by Szpunar and Deep Red vet Dennis Daniel about their respective viewing experiences and admiration for Twin Peaks: The Return and an interesting piece on The Redeemer by Greg Goodsell that incorporates interview material with the film’s screenwriter.
The interviews cover a similarly broad swath. Szpunar conducts a lively interview with Jim Van Bebber about Arrow Films’ reissue of his punkish gang-movie-goes-splatter classic Deadbeat At Dawn and Daniel interviews FX maestro/actor/director Tom Savini, taking a unique hook that organizes the chat around how Savini’s “monster kid” early days informed his life and career ambitions. Daniel was also a zombie in Savini’s remake of Night Of The Living Dead so the two have some frank, interesting discussion of that film’s tormented production. Elsewhere, the indefatigable Szpunar and Daniel team up with Stephen Bissette and Nick Cato for a roundtable chat with Buddy Giovinazzo about his controversial cult item Combat Shock. It unfurls plenty of tidbits for fans, including info on everything from cast to FX to locations.
And that’s not all on the interview tip. Street Trash fans will be delighted by interviews two of that film’s principals: Mike Lackey (by Jamie Chimino) and James Lorinz (by Kris Gilpin, another Deep Red vet). Lackey has interesting insight to offer into the film’s origins (he was one of the creators behind the original short film version) and Lorinz’s good-natured stream of comments deal with Street Trash as well as Frankenhooker, his experiences with Martin Scorcese and more.
The most esoteric of the interviews might be the coolest: friend of Schlockmania Chris Poggiali contributes an interview with father-and-son film distributor team Lawrence and Marco Joachim. Its main focus is their short-lived attempt to distribute the infamous Cannibal Holocaust in the U.S. and all the troubles that kept it from getting off the ground. It’s a fascinating slice of obscure history for gorehounds that fills in a few missing pieces of the puzzle for that film’s fans.
Finally, the essays/thought pieces area offers an array of its own highlights. Mike Hunchback contributes a fascinating piece about Ray Dennis Steckler’s side-career as a pornographer in the ’70s and ’80s, exploring the films and offering some interesting conjecture on why Steckler refused to acknowledge his work in this genre. Bissette offers a cool you-are-there portrait of the first few times he saw The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in a previously unpublished essay written for a sadly unpublished graphic novel about TCM’s production. There’s even a rare Chas Balun essay in which he mixes modes – prose and screenplay – to give you a tour of his home, the legendary Chateau De Chunkblow, circa its early ’90s glory days.
Believe it or not, the above isn’t a full recap of this issue: even more interviews and reviews have been left on the sidelines for the sake of brevity but hopefully the preceding paragraphs have given you a good idea of how jam-packed and ambitious the latest issue of Deep Red is. Every article offers thoughts that will get the horror/exploitation fan’s mind percolating and it’s all laid out with a stylish array of ad mats, rare photos and eye-popping original illustrations. In short, it’s another winner from Szpunar and company that will enrich your horror cinema library.
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