This issue gets off to a good start by plac­ing Splice on its cov­er, a film that Your Humble Reviewer con­sid­ers the best hor­ror film of the year thus far.  New edi­tor Chris Alexander sets up the cov­er sto­ry in his edi­to­ri­al, offer­ing some nice com­men­tary about how the film works as a com­men­tary on the dark side of par­ent­hood.  His writ­ing style mix­es fan­nish enthu­si­asm with an intel­lec­tu­al approach, a com­bi­na­tion that works nice­ly for the piece and also sets a tone for his approach to this ven­er­a­ble hor­ror insti­tu­tion.

Alexander also penned the cov­er sto­ry itself, which chron­i­cles this odd, uncom­pro­mis­ing film’s twisty path to the mul­ti­plex while dou­bling as an intro­duc­tion to the work of writer/director Vincenzo Natali.  It also fea­tures a side­bar inter­view with Delphine Chaneac, the actress/musician/dancer who plays the film’s alter­nate­ly sexy/scary stand-in for Frankenstein’s mon­ster.  As the inter­views reveal, she’s as inter­est­ing and unusu­al as the char­ac­ter she plays.

The remain­der of Issue #294 is a mix­ture of the famil­iar and the new.  On the famil­iar side, vet­er­an Fangoria fea­tures like Monster Invasion, Nightmare Library and Dr. Cyclop’s video reviews remain intact (though the good Doc’s lair is now referred to as a “Dungeon Of Discs”).  Monster Invasion divides its time even­ly between big bud­get fare (Jonah Hex, Predators) and indie fare like The Horseman.

The review sec­tions offer in-depth explo­ration of books and DVD’s but the writ­ing style in the­se sec­tions can be incon­sis­tent: the major prob­lem is that a few of the review­ers try a lit­tle too hard to be provoca­tive and/or comedic in their reviews.  There’s noth­ing wrong with using wit to add a lit­tle flair to a review but it should work hand in hand with the cri­tique instead of com­pet­ing with it.

On the new tip, Fangoria broad­ens its reach into oth­er forms of media via Horrorcade, a video game review sec­tion and Sound Shock, a reg­u­lar inter­view fea­ture that focus­es on sound­track com­posers.  Video games aren’t an area of inter­est for Your Humble Reviewer but Horrorcade’s reviews are infor­ma­tive and enthu­si­as­tic about this medi­um.  Better yet, they are all writ­ten by the same per­son (Brian O’Toole) so they have a real styl­is­tic con­sis­ten­cy.  Sound Shock boasts fea­tures a Fabio Frizzi inter­view con­duct­ed by Alexander.  Fulci fans will love this inter­view as Frizzi is an inter­est­ing sub­ject and Alexander asks the right ques­tions.  There also brief mon­ster and trash-movie trib­utes that pay affec­tion­ate trib­ute to unlike­ly can­di­dates like Brainscan and Xtro.

There are 11 arti­cles, which break down into five inter­views, five “pre­view” arti­cles on speci­fic films and a sort of diary-style fea­ture by actress Debbie Rochon.  It is inter­est­ing to note that all of the preview/set-visit pieces focus on indie fare (yes, even Splice was an inde­pen­dent pro­duc­tion before Warner picked it up for dis­tri­b­u­tion).  Given that Fangoria has long been accused of pan­der­ing to major stu­dios, the indie focus is a refresh­ing devel­op­ment.  Of inter­est are a piece on All About Evil, a movie-themed slash­er direct­ed by a San Francisco drag per­son­al­i­ty, and a look at Someone’s Knocking At The Door, an under­ground-lev­el indie that trav­els into sex­u­al­ly trans­gres­sive ter­ri­to­ry.

The inter­views cov­er every­thing from the for­mer kids who played heroes/victims in the Nightmare On Elm Street movies to chats with icon­ic fig­ures like Jess Franco and Giovanni Lombardo Radice.  The Radice piece is par­tic­u­lar­ly enter­tain­ing, giv­ing the leg­endary “whip­ping boy” of Italo-exploita­tion hor­ror room to vent about his feel­ings on the gen­re and his intense ani­mos­i­ty towards Cannibal Ferox.  Also wor­thy of note is an inter­view with two of the stars of the lat­est Twilight entry.  Most hor­ror fans would nev­er con­sid­er that series part of the gen­re but the ques­tions are clev­er­ly geared towards get­ting the actors to dis­cuss their thoughts on the gen­re and how the series relates to it.

However, the biggest sur­prise of the issue is the piece by Rochon.  “Game Over, Man!” — the lat­est install­ment of Diary Of The Deb — is a first-per­son reflec­tion on her expe­ri­ences star­ring in the extrem­ist German hor­ror flick Game Over.  It was a gru­el­ing shoot from both act­ing and per­son­al com­fort stand­points and Rochon brings us into the heart of the expe­ri­ence, bal­anc­ing the often grim details with the per­spec­tive of a vet­er­an and care­ful­ly-deployed flash­es of wit.  The lev­el of writ­ing skill on dis­play is tru­ly impres­sive here: if Rochon ever writes a mem­oir, it’ll be a must-read for hor­ror and exploita­tion fans if it’s as good as this arti­cle.

In short, read­ing Issue #294 of Fangoria was like hav­ing a reunion with an old friend who has land­ed on their feet after going through a tough peri­od.  If this issue is an accu­rate indi­ca­tion of the magazine’s direc­tion then there’s still life in the­se bones.  Tune in to the next install­ment of Nuevo Fango to see if Fangoria’s cur­rent incar­na­tion can con­tin­ue this trend…