Issue #8 of Fangoria rep­re­sents yet anoth­er mile­stone for this soon-to-be-leg­endary hor­ror mag­a­zine since it fea­tures what is arguably its first real “gross-out” cov­er.  It is dom­i­nat­ed by a gut-churn­ing close­up of one of the tit­u­lar fiends from Zombie, the same shot used for the film’s atten­tion-grab­bing U.S. poster.  His dirt-encrust­ed puss is high­light­ed by worms squirm­ing their way out of one eye sock­et and snag­gly, rot­ten teeth.  His expres­sion seems to say “Buy this mag­a­zine!  I dare you!  Gross out your friends!  Make adults frown with dis­ap­proval!”

Thus began a fine tra­di­tion that would make Fangoria leap out at poten­tial buy­ers from the news­stands and get young read­ers in trou­ble with many a par­ent and teacher.  The con­tents of this issue aren’t quite as hard-hit­ting as the cov­er: out of 11 fea­ture arti­cles, only about six can claim a hor­ror or most­ly-hor­ror focus.  The rest rep­re­sent detours into sci-fi ter­ri­to­ry, some of them fit­ting and some of them con­fus­ing.

The arti­cles on the hor­ror tip are most­ly fun stuff.  There’s a charm­ing inter­view with Scatman Crothers to pro­mote The Shining in which the beloved char­ac­ter actor reveals a song he wrote for Stanley Kubrick (lyrics are includ­ed) and, sur­pris­ing­ly, his can­did thoughts about the sui­cide of Freddie Prinze, his co-star on Chico And The Man.  Jim Wynorski con­tributes the cov­er arti­cle, a piece on Zombie that includes inter­view snip­pets with Lucio Fulci, Fabrizio De Angelis and Gianetto De Rossi (amus­ing­ly mis­spelled as “Gianutto”).  Fulci spends a lot of time try­ing to dodge the film’s obvi­ous debts to Dawn Of The Dead and there’s an amus­ing tale about the film’s “zom­bie vs. shark” scene.

One of the issue’s strongest arti­cles is a ret­ro­spec­tive piece on Horror Of Dracula that focus­es on the con­tri­bu­tions of fx man Syd Pearson and edi­tor Bill Lenny.  Both men offer some fas­ci­nat­ing insights in their respec­tive work on the film, with Pearson describ­ing the sur­pris­ing­ly prac­ti­cal tech­niques used in the finale’s grue­some effects and Lenny lay­ing out his approach to assem­bling the film (plus a fun tale about inter­act­ing with Christopher Lee).  There’s also a worth­while John Carpenter inter­view from Bob Martin in which Carpenter dis­cuss­es Assault On Precinct 13, Halloween and The Fog in great detail.

The hor­ror side of things is round­ed out by a piece on The Hearse and an inter­est­ing inter­view with Irwin Yablans.  The lat­ter inter­view is designed to pro­mote the mem­o­rably off­beat Fade To Black (more an indie dra­ma about the dan­gers of cine-obses­sion than a hor­ror film) but he freely dis­cuss­es his career as an indie pro­duc­er who hap­pened upon a hor­ror gold­mine with Halloween.  This piece also includes an inter­est­ing side­bar where he dis­cuss­es plans for Halloween II that involve a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent sce­nar­io where the Shape stalks Laurie in a high-rise apart­ment com­plex.

The remain­der of this issue deals with pre­dom­i­nant­ly sci-fi mate­ri­al.  Some of it is pret­ty inter­est­ing: an inter­view with stop-motion ani­ma­tors Jim Danforth and Dave Allen is designed to pro­mote Caveman but spends more time illus­trat­ing how hard it is for guys in this field to find a good venue for their tal­ents and the first half of a two-part with inter­view with B-movie mon­ster mak­er Paul Blaisdell offers some fun tales from the front­li­nes of 1950’s dri­ve-in film­mak­ing.  There’s also a heart­felt, well-writ­ten trib­ute to pro­duc­er George Pal.  He had recent­ly died and the piece pays trib­ute to his cin­e­mat­ic lega­cy while also illus­trat­ing how the stu­dios he made mon­ey for often treat­ed him with con­tempt.

Unfortunately, two of the­se sci-fi pieces stick out like sore thumbs.  The first is an inter­view with pro­duc­er Gary Kurtz regard­ing The Empire Strikes Back.  It’s a nice enough read for Star Wars buffs but it is real­ly Starlog fod­der and its pres­ence here sug­gest one of the pow­ers-that-be was hedg­ing their bets by slip­ping some­thing über-com­mer­cial into the mix, regard­less of whether it actu­al­ly fit in.  There’s also an arti­cle on a pack­age of Japanese space-themed car­toons called Force Five.  After the last few hor­ror-dri­ven issues, stuff like this feels like a ves­ti­gial limb that needs to be chopped off.

As usu­al, things wind down with the Monster Invasion sec­tion.  News dis­cussed includes pro­duc­er Martin B. Cohen’s plans for Piranha and Humanoids From The Deep sequels (only the for­mer hap­pened and Cohen didn’t pro­duce it) and a sneer­ing, pre-emp­tive dis­missal of the yet-to-be-released Flash Gordon.  There is also a thought­ful book review piece that cov­ers Stephen King’s Firestarter and The Dead Zone.  Count Fangor turns up again, like a bad pen­ny, with the expect­ed third-rate hor­ror humor gags.  Someone had their hopes rid­ing high on this fea­ture because there is also an ad for a Count Fangor mask.  The results of a pre­vi­ous Fangoria poll bring the issue to an end, with past fea­tures on The Fog and Kolchak: The Night Stalker get­ting high marks from the fans.

Ultimately, the ver­dict on Issue #8 is a split deci­sion: the writ­ing is rock-solid and the hor­ror mate­ri­al goes over well but the magazine’s lack of focus regard­ing its sub­ject mat­ter detracts from the over­all impact.  The mag­a­zine would return to tough­en­ing up hor­ror-style in its next issue but this one rep­re­sents a curi­ous back­wards glance in the mid­st of peri­od that was oth­er­wise dis­tin­guished by for­ward-think­ing improve­ments.