The sec­ond issue of Fangoria is a big improve­ment on the first.  The over­all lev­el of writ­ing is much improved and the hor­ror ele­ment is becom­ing more pro­nounced as this pub­li­ca­tion inch­es its way towards its fright-mag des­tiny.  However, it’s still a mag­a­zine with a divid­ed soul at this stage — and issue #2 suf­fers from some notice­able grow­ing pains.

The MVP of this issue is def­i­nite­ly Bob Martin.  He kicks the issue off with a tri­fec­ta of fan­boy-pleas­ing great­ness.  The first is an edi­to­ri­al where he pro­pos­es a film rat­ing to sep­a­rate films with shock­ing non-sex con­tent from pornog­ra­phy (sad­ly, a wish that has yet to come true).  He fol­lows it with a nice fea­ture on Phantasm that mix­es a Don Coscarelli inter­view — who is as per­son­able as always — with inter­est­ing descrip­tions of how the film’s mem­o­rable effects were achieved.  This is fol­lowed by a nice lit­tle piece on Nosferatu: The Vampyre that was prob­a­bly the first expo­sure many young American minds got to the work of Herzog.

The ret­ro­spec­tive arti­cles in issue #2 are also quite good (this remains an endur­ing part of the magazine’s appeal).  The first is the debut install­ment of a two-part Richard Matheson inter­view.  Matheson is like­ably frank, freely dis­cussing his prob­lems with the edit­ing of The Incredible Shrinking Man and his bit­ter­ness over The Last Man On Earth (which he reveals was orig­i­nal­ly to have been direct­ed by Fritz Lang!).  There’s also a fas­ci­nat­ing inter­view with Robert Bloch, who wax­es elo­quent about the why’s and wherefore’s of the hor­ror gen­re, and a solid mak­ing-of piece on War Of The Worlds that goes into great detail on its visu­al effects.

Elsewhere, issue #2 runs into prob­lems.  The fan­ta­sy-mag­a­zine direc­tive from the front office leads to some bor­ing non-hor­ror con­tent: for exam­ple, there’s a Dr. Who fea­ture that feels like a left­over from Starlog and unwant­ed talk of Saturday morn­ing car­toons in the news sec­tion.  There’s also some obvi­ous rush-jobs that shame­less­ly pad out the page count: the fea­tures on Dracula (1979 ver­sion) and The Humanoid have a slop­py, rewrit­ten-press-kit feel and there is a unabashed puff-piece that pro­motes the sup­posed excel­lence of the infa­mous­ly lousy Prophecy.

However, the issue fin­ish­es with a few nice bits in its clos­ing news sec­tion (once you get past that Saturday morn­ing car­toon talk).  One of the most fas­ci­nat­ing parts of read­ing old film mag­a­zi­nes is the news of projects that nev­er came to be.  There are two gems of that ilk in this issue. First, a brief chat with John Landis yields talk of Creature From The Black Lagoon and The Mummy remakes that nev­er hap­pened (his instincts on keep­ing The Mummy as a peri­od piece were vin­di­cat­ed by the suc­cess of the Stephen Sommers ver­sion a few decades lat­er).  There’s also talk of War Of The Insect Gods, an unmade com­e­dy script about mutant cock­roach­es invad­ing New York that was penned by Mr. Mike him­self, Michael O’Donaghue.  Oh, what could have been…

In short, Fangoria #2 is about half of a good mag­a­zine.  Clearly, the pub­lish­ers had yet to learn that no one can serve mul­ti­ple mas­ters and still man­age to do a good job.  It would take a few more hits to the cor­po­rate pock­et­book before they’d be will­ing to take chances in favor of a hor­ror-dom­i­nant direc­tion.  In the mean­time, there would be a few more issues with con­tents stitched togeth­er, Frankenstein-style.