In the short term, the internet dealt a savage blow to the world of the cult movie ‘zine. It allowed enthusiasts of all kinds to dispense with the costs and the delays inherent in publishing and get their thoughts out instantaneously to their target audience.
That said, the passage of time has revealed that ‘zines have pleasures that the internet can’t offer. Hobbyist publishers typically lavish more love and care on their work than bloggers, who are often focused on beating their competitors to the punch. There are also the tactile joys of handling a publication and savoring the layout and graphics (online publishers seldom put that much care into the visual presentation of their thoughts).
Thus, cult movie ‘zines have been making a comeback in recent years, particularly with the rise of print-on-demand outlets that make desktop publishing easier and more cost-effective than ever. Some people are even putting their publications together in PDF form and putting them out there for a quick download.
Drive-In Asylum is one of the newer cult movie zines on this scene and it presents a pleasing marriage of new and old ‘zine techniques. It is handsomely designed via computer and sold on eBay and Etsy but it is also lovingly assembled by hand and eschews the slick print-on-demand approach in favor of an old school style (printed on colored paper, folded and stapled).
Schlockmania sampled this ‘zine via two special issues published last year. Here’s a quick rundown of said specials…
Special #1: 1979 Yearbook Special (June 2017)
This issue is dedicated to an amazing year that saw the release of a dazzling array of genre titles, including some enduring cult faves like Alien, Dawn Of The Dead and Phantasm. The issue divides its time between presenting an array of vintage ad mats and theater listings for these films and short, punchy articles on certain titles.
There’s an impressive analysis of how Phantasm draws its power from its ability to tap into an early-teen mindset, a surprisingly scholarly look at Killer Nun and a thoughtful appreciation of Alien and its many influential elements by publisher Bill Van Ryn. The ads are all killer, with Van Ryn skillfully assembling tribute pages for particular titles that seamlessly blend several different ads into eye-popping layouts. It’s always amazing to see which titles were paired together and what films played as 2nd-bill attractions years after their original releases.
Special #2: The Incredible Melting Man Turns 40! (December 2017)
In true super-specialized ‘zine style, this issue devotes its entire page count to a certain misshapen sci-fi/horror crossover from 1978 that has its own following. Van Ryn contributes a tribute to the film’s unique attributes, there’s also a scholarly overview of the film’s score and Sam Panico contributes a memorable anecdote about finding the film’s tie-in makeup kit in a store as a kid. Even better, there’s a new interview with writer/director William Sachs that sheds some light on the behind-the-scenes producer tampering and reshoots that led to the film’s sometimes confused tone and style.
It’s also worth noting that Van Ryn outdoes himself with the layout for this title. It is jampacked with an array of bedeviling sights: you get lobby cards, posters from the around the world and vintage ad mats and theater listings. That’s not all: he really dug deep and exhumed pictures of the film’s makeup kit, Halloween costume (!) and vintage interviews that FX designer Rick Baker did to promote the film (!!).
In short, both of these special issues are a treat. The articles are well-written and it’s fun to flip through the pages and admire the jam-packed layout. If you’re searching for that old ‘zine feeling, this is a shot of pure nostalgia right to the film cultist pleasure center of your brain.
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.