Your Humble Reviewer was casu­al­ly brows­ing an online forum on December 7th, 2007 when he read the awful news.  A ware­house in Oregon, Illinois had burned to the ground after a fork­lift dri­ver acci­den­tal­ly punc­tured a gas line locat­ed near a space heater.  Thankfully, the peo­ple inside the build­ing escaped with­out injury… but the warehouse’s con­tents were destroyed.

And what did this ware­house con­tain?  All the back issues of Fangoria.  Documents of a few decades’ worth of hor­ror his­to­ry were reduced to ash­es in a mat­ter of min­utes.  No one would ever be able to order print copies of those clas­sic issues again.

Some gen­re fans shrugged the news off, say­ing “what­ev­er, it’s just a mag­a­zine” or “doesn’t both­er me, I nev­er cared that much for it.” For oth­ers, this shock had the impact of an unex­pect­ed punch to the solar plexus.  Your Humble Reviewer was def­i­nite­ly in the lat­ter group.  He hadn’t bought a new issue since the ear­ly 1990’s but he remem­bered a time in his life when Fangoria had been the most impor­tant thing on the news­stand.

His obses­sion began in 1987.  He’d just become inter­est­ed in hor­ror movies, cut­ting his fan­dom teeth on VHS rentals of Fright Night and Creepshow.  Like any new enthu­si­ast, he want­ed guid­ance on where to go next but said guid­ance was hard to come by.  In that pre-inter­net era, pur­su­ing an eccen­tric, social­ly-frowned-upon hob­by took per­se­ver­ance.  Finding infor­ma­tion on such inter­ests was a hard-won bat­tle.

Thankfully, there was one ray of hope for the young hor­ror fan of that era: no mat­ter where you lived, you could always find an issue of Fangoria on a local mag­a­zine rack.  Each mon­th, it was there to reas­sure you that oth­er peo­ple were inter­est­ed in the same thing and you weren’t a com­plete weirdo for being into the gen­re.  Every issue brought the lat­est news, infor­ma­tion on where to find all the good videos/books/mags/etc. and, best of all, arti­cles that explored the genre’s his­to­ry.  It was one-stop shop­ping.

In short order, Your Humble Reviewer built up a col­lec­tion of issues.  Each copy was pored over obses­sive­ly and then filed away to become part of his per­son­al hor­ror library.  As the years rolled on, his inter­ests broad­ened into oth­er cult film gen­res and more mag­a­zi­nes were added to that home library: Cinefantastique, Psychotronic, Shock Cinema, etc.  However, the Fangoria’s remained the heart and soul of the col­lec­tion.  They were where it all began.

Eventually, his inter­est in the cur­rent hor­ror scene waned and he stopped buy­ing new issues of Fangoria… but he kept the old ones.  How could he get rid of them?  They were the bedrock of his cinephile inter­ests and they’d always have a place in his fan­boy­ish heart of hearts.  A few years before that fate­ful ware­house fire, he’d even gone back and com­plet­ed his col­lec­tion of the first hun­dred issues, care­ful­ly bag­ging and board­ing each mag­a­zine to make it an offi­cial archive.

The time has come for that archive to be put to use.  The Fango Files is going to explore the ear­ly his­to­ry of the mag­a­zine on an issue-by-issue basis, cov­er­ing Fangoria’s high­lights and grow­ing pains dur­ing that growth peri­od where it devel­oped from a young upstart into a gen­re titan.  Each entry will be an essay that places the cho­sen issue into a his­tor­i­cal con­text as it dis­cuss­es the films, the writ­ing, the triv­ia and any oth­er worth­while minu­ti­ae.  There will also be scans of issue-appro­pri­ate images to tan­ta­lize the eyes.

The ambi­tion of The Fango Files is to cre­ate an ide­al com­pan­ion for those lucky enough to have those vin­tage issues and to provide a glimpse into hor­ror his­to­ry for those who don’t.  In any event, Your Humble Reviewer hopes you enjoy the essays — and be care­ful: the chance of devel­op­ing your own obses­sion with vin­tage issues of Fangoria is extreme­ly high.  Don’t blame Schlockmania if you catch the fever…