If Issue #2 of Fangoria pushed for­ward on the New Horror fore­front, Issue #3 rep­re­sent­ed a curi­ous step back­wards into the retro ter­ri­to­ry staked out by the likes of Famous Monsters Of Filmland and Castle Of Frankenstein.  The third issue is packed with arti­cles that focus their gaze on the past.  They tend to be quite good but their schol­ar­ly plea­sures can’t dis­guise the fact that the mag­a­zine was look­ing away from its future.

Of course, given the “all types of fan­ta­sy” focus of the­se ear­ly Fangoria issues, per­haps the back­ward stance wasn’t such a bad idea.  This issue starts off on the wrong foot with a rather thread­bare cov­er sto­ry about Arabian Adventure, a British fan­ta­sy flick that fea­tured Christopher Lee as its vil­lain.  The fact that so much space is ded­i­cat­ed to a kid­die flick is bad enough but mat­ters are made worse by the fact that it is a glo­ri­fied press release mas­querad­ing as an arti­cle (inter­est­ing­ly, no author takes cred­it for the piece).  The one inter­est­ing about this piece is that the direc­tor of said film, one Kevin Connor, would return to Fangoria a few issues lat­er with a bet­ter, more hor­ror fan-friend­ly piece of work — Motel Hell.

After that, things improve.  There are a few arti­cles about then-new hor­ror flicks sprin­kled through­out.  Bob Martin does a short but inter­est­ing inter­view with David Cronenberg designed to pro­mote the release of The Brood.  Cronenberg is refresh­ing­ly unapolo­get­ic about the out-there nature of his work, defend­ing it intel­li­gent­ly and even crit­i­ciz­ing Alien for lack­ing any psy­chol­o­gy under its scare tac­tics.  There’s also a Stephen King inter­view where he dis­cuss­es Kubrick’s forth­com­ing film of The Shining with appre­hen­sion — an ear­ly warn­ing of his famous dis­dain for the fin­ished pro­duct — and a chat with Roald Dahl on his Tales Of The Unexpected t.v. show (favorite bit: he dis­miss­es librar­i­ans seek­ing to ban his macabre chil­drens’ books by say­ing “Silly bitch­es don’t under­stand what chil­dren enjoy.”)

However, the real meat of issue #3 is a string of ret­ro­spec­tive arti­cles.  The first is the sec­ond install­ment of a Richard Matheson inter­view that focus­es on his t.v. writ­ing career, cov­er­ing every­thing from The Twilight Zone to the Martian Chronicles minis­eries.  There’s also a detailed fil­mog­ra­phy with syn­opses and a side­bar on Somewhere In Time.  This is fol­lowed by a Jack Arnold inter­view that takes the read­er through the many sci-fi-ori­ent­ed high­lights of his career.  He tells some fun tales about the per­ils of shoot­ing in an ocea­nari­um for Creature From The Black Lagoon and how the giant-size water­drop effects were achieved in The Incredible Shrinking Man.

The ret­ro­spec­tive arti­cles con­tin­ue on a Jack Arnold-ori­ent­ed note with a fea­ture about It Came From Outer Space that also includes some inter­view snip­pets with Ray Bradbury (inter­est­ing fac­toid: he earned a mere $3000 for pen­ning the film’s treat­ment).  However, the most fun read of the ret­ro­spec­tive stuff is a look back at the Kolchak: The Night Stalker series, which was run­ning on CBS week­end late-night sched­ules when this arti­cle ran.  It doc­u­ments the his­to­ry of the t.v. films and the short-lived series, includ­ing inter­views pro­duc­er Cy Chermak and staff writer/future Sopranos cre­ator David Chase.  This arti­cle also includes a nice, detailed episode guide for the series.

One last fea­ture of note: like the oth­er ear­ly issues, this issue of Fangoria includes a “Fantastic Art” fea­ture that focus­es on a par­tic­u­lar artist and shows some exam­ples of their work.  These fea­tures haven’t been dis­cussed thus far in the Fango Files because they are usu­al­ly groan-induc­ing, non-hor­ror stuff fea­tur­ing drag­ons, fairies and the like.  However, issue 3’s entry in this area is an eye-catch­ing fea­ture on graph­ic artist Michael Sullivan, who does mod­el-ori­ent­ed work with a nice­ly macabre touch.  The most inter­est­ing image is cyborg-style bug/robot crea­ture: click on the near­by scan to savor its creepy/cool design.

In the final sum­ma­ry, Fangoria #3 is a solid read over­all but still a far cry from its future as a hor­ror-scene titan.  As the cov­er­age of a Raggedy Ann And Andy car­toon spe­cial in the Monster Invasion sec­tion reveals, there were still a few bumps that need­ed to be smoothed out in the magazine’s for­mat before it could rule the roost.