DRIVE-IN ASYLUM #’s 1-3: Establishing An Ad-Mat Aesthetic

A while back, Schlockmania covered a pair of special issues of Drive-In Asylum, an entertaining new ‘zine done in the style of the classic cult movie ‘zines of the ’80s and ’90s.  Since then, Schlockmania has acquired the back catalog of issues, all of which will be covered here in due time.  This installment looks back at the first three issues of Drive-In Asylum, originally released between October of 2015 and April of 2016.

The first couple of issues feature less articles than you see in later issues, with the writing (primarily by editor/publisher Bill Van Ryn) consisting of a few capsule reviews, some captions for themed ad collection and a few choice reprints of articles from newspapers and magazines. The third issue brings in the first of many outside contributors and points the way towards Drive-In Asylum‘s future.

All three are big fun for exploitation fans, showing a fully-formed visual aesthetic that pulls the reader back into the eye-popping magic of print promotion for horror and exploitation cinema.  Read on for a quick examination of each issue’s contents.

Issue #1 (October 2015):  the debut issue includes two themed pairs of capsule reviews: a “killer kids” duo of The Child and The Children and an Exorcist knockoff double-header of Beyond The Door and Abby.  All four pack a lot of detail into a few hundred words, looking at these oddities in an irreverent but fond manner.  Quirks are celebrated instead of castigated, which is a breath of fresh air in today’s snarkier-than-thou cult movie press.

Article reprints include a candid John Carradine interview, a wild cannibalism-themed news story and a glimpse into Karen Black’s daily menu.   Sets of ad-mats include some killer all-night horror shows, covers from Super 8 edits of beloved drive-in horror faves and best of all, a collection of ads that highlight alternate titles of horror films.

Issue #2 (January 2016): there’s just one capsule review here, a look back at The Bride (a.k.a. The House That Cried Murder). This regional thriller from John Grissmer is starting to pick up a cult thanks to recent DVD and blu-ray reissues and Van Ryn draws some interesting parallels between it and Blood Mania.  Ad gallery themes include zombies, vampires, holiday horrors, revenge of nature flicks and more alternate titles.

The dominant text features here come in reprint form via a section of the issue devoted to a Vincent Price tribute.  You could a trio of newspaper profiles that show off what a multifaceted figure Price was, covering not only his stage work but his publishing and art curation ventures.  You’ll also get to read Judith Crist’s review of Theater Of Blood.  Van Ryn says “I want my afterlife to be a dinner party hosted by Vincent Price.” That’s the kind of dream Schlockmania can get behind.

Issue #3 (April 2016): The third issue features Van Ryn writeups of the deep-cut horror Slipping Into Darkness and Chosen Survivors, a quirky sci-fi flick that has picked up fans in recent years via home video reissues. This issue also sees the ‘zine’s first outside contribution from friend of Schlockmania Chris Poggiali, who serves up a detailed look at the sexploitation Bonnie & Clyde knockoff The Bang Bang Gang. In classic Poggiali style, it is diligently researched and offers plentiful factoids on the filmmakers and an alternate porn re-edit (!) of the film.

Ad mat collection themes for this go-round include triple bills, “fake sequel” retitlings, Paul Naschy flicks and horror-themed Atari 2600 games. The neatest is a page of ad mats for an attempt to cash-in on the success of Dawn Of The Dead by a distributor who retitled Messiah Of Evil as Return Of The Living Dead!  Van Ryn also offers quickie capsule to accompany ad material for the t.v. movies Salem’s Lot and Curse Of The Black Widow.   The latter half of the issue throws in some fun newspaper reprints, including an intriguing biographical feature on Vonetta McGee.

To read Schlockmania’s coverage of Drive-In Asylum‘s first two special issues, click here.

Purchase Info: For more information on Drive-In Asylum, check out the ‘zines official Facebook page. You can also check out their Etsy page by clicking here. Also, be sure to check out Groovy Doom, a spin-off Facebook page devoted to posting all kinds of vintage ad mats and newspaper film ads.

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