As read­ers of this post series know, Fangoria didn’t become the top hor­ror movie mag overnight.  It was born as a sort of all-things-to-all-fans com­pro­mise intend­ed to cater to sci-fi and fan­ta­sy fans as well as the hor­ror crowd — but no mag­a­zine can serve that many mas­ters.  Fangoria grad­u­al­ly devel­oped into a hor­ror-dri­ven mag­a­zine over time but it took a while to work out the sci-fi/fantasy kinks in its blend of fare.  As Issue #10 proves, non-hor­ror con­tent could still pull a sneak attack on unsus­pect­ing gore­hounds in the pages of Fangoria’s ear­ly issues.

Issue #10 starts well for the hor­ror fan with a brace of infor­ma­tive arti­cles on then-cur­rent hor­ror fare.  Scanners is the cov­er sto­ry this time around and read­ers are treat­ed to a typ­i­cal­ly intel­li­gent inter­view with David Cronenberg, in which he dis­cuss­es the film’s rushed sched­ule and how the finale had to be reshot with new Dick Smith make­up effects to make it work.  Cronenberg would lat­er be more crit­i­cal of the pro­duc­ers on this film but he’s fair­ly diplo­mat­ic here.  He also talks about his planned but nev­er pro­duced ver­sion Frankenstein (oh, what might have been…).

Dick Smith is high­light­ed in an inter­view about his work on Altered States.  It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing, stun­ning­ly can­did piece in which he dis­cuss­es the chal­lenges of work­ing on that trou­bled pro­duc­tion, which was years in the mak­ing and involved a change of direc­tors.  Smith relates the chal­lenges of work­ing with film­mak­ers who were con­stant­ly chang­ing their minds and dis­cuss­es the many reject­ed make­ups he designed along the way.

There’s also a mem­o­rable inter­view with Charles Kaufman about the mak­ing of his black comedy/horror clas­sic Mother’s Day — a big high­light here is his dis­cus­sion of the brave deci­sion to release the film unrat­ed, some­thing that would nev­er hap­pen in this day and age.  Vintage hor­ror fans will be pleased by the first install­ment of a two-part inter­view with Jimmy Sangster in which he dis­cuss­es his ear­ly days as a writer at Hammer Studios.  It cov­ers every­thing from the studio’s first Dracula and Frankenstein films through his under­rat­ed direct­ing debut, The Horror Of Frankenstein and Sangster dis­cuss­es it all with dead­pan wit and a lack of pre­ten­sion.

Beyond the afore­men­tioned con­tent, the con­tent gets notice­ably less hor­ror ori­ent­ed. Outer Limits pro­duc­er Leslie Stevens returns for the sec­ond part of a chat about his t.v. career, includ­ing a dis­cus­sion of his work on Battlestar Galactica and the Sheena: Queen Of The Jungle movie ( three years would pass before the lat­ter film got made and Stevens only had co-sto­ry cred­it).  There’s also the long-delayed final part of a “Great Animated Apes” series focus­ing on Mighty Joe Young.  It’s a pret­ty good read, includ­ing some fas­ci­nat­ing stuff about how Ray Harryhausen got his big break work­ing on the film as a star­ry-eyed pro­tégé to Willis O’Brien.

The remain­ing arti­cles have even less to do with hor­ror.  A posthu­mous trib­ute to ani­ma­tor Tex Avery is well-writ­ten but feels like it waltzed in from a dif­fer­ent mag­a­zine.  Much less appe­tiz­ing is a dis­cus­sion of an ani­mat­ed t.v. spe­cial called Faeries.  Simply put, this kind of sub-Tolkien busi­ness is a painful read for any­one who bought the mag­a­zine for hor­ror con­tent.  There is a dis­con­nect between the­se two arti­cles and the rest of the issue — and it feels like the pub­lish­ers were either clear­ing the old-arti­cle decks or try­ing to fill space left by a lack of new hor­ror arti­cles.

Thankfully, the issue clos­es on a fun note with its “Monster Invasion” news sec­tion, which has fun, ear­ly info-blurbs on films like Contamination, Shogun Assassin and Hell Night.  However, the most fas­ci­nat­ing info comes from a brief blurb on slash­er New Year’s Evil, in which writer/director Emmett Alston reveals he intend­ed to make two oth­er hor­ror efforts: the first was X-Ray with Jill St. John (Boaz Davidson lat­er made that film with Barbi Benton) and a nev­er pro­duced flick called Lover’s Lane that would have starred Wayne Newton!

Ultimately, Issue #10 of Fangoria remains worth­while for hor­ror fans because of the afore­men­tioned strong hor­ror-relat­ed arti­cles — but it’s also a reminder of the stum­bles the mag­a­zine endured as it worked out the kinks and estab­lished its hor­ror-dri­ven iden­ti­ty.