As Your Humble Reviewer dove into research­ing and writ­ing this site’s ongo­ing Fango Files series, he real­ized one of the great virtues of Fangoria in its ear­ly days was its devo­tion to giv­ing the read­er an edu­ca­tion in clas­sic hor­ror.  Sure, the issues would trum­pet what­ev­er the hor­ror flick du jour was at the time but you could always count on a few arti­cles that would explore some clas­sic films or film­mak­ers the younger hor­ror addict might not know.

The ret­ro­spec­tive com­po­nent remained a com­po­nent of Fangoria over the years but the grow­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty of mod­ern hor­ror (and per­haps the pres­sures of keep­ing a hor­ror mag­a­zine alive on the news­stands) slow­ly pushed the ret­ro­spec­tive com­po­nent of the mag­a­zine into the back­ground.  It nev­er quite went away but it lost its ear­ly posi­tion of the strength, get­ting down­grad­ed to fea­ture appear­ance sta­tus instead of being an equal part­ner with the new-film arti­cles.

Thus, it’s a plea­sure to dis­cov­er Fangoria’s lat­est era has brought back the clas­sics in a big way.  Consider issue #296, for exam­ple: the cov­er might trum­pet Resident Evil: Afterlife, Piranha 3D and The Last Exorcism but it also makes room for a men­tion of Dark Shadows.  It’s a mere hint of what can be found on the pages inside: out of 14 fea­ture arti­cles, 6 either deal with clas­sic fare or deal with figures/films con­nect­ed to the genre’s his­to­ry.

In fact, respect for the old-school is hard­wired into the magazine’s cen­tre­piece, a series of arti­cles deal­ing with the cur­rent 3-D revival’s effect on the hor­ror gen­re.  On one side, you have an infor­ma­tive piece about Resident Evil: Afterlife, a quick­ie side­bar about the tech­nol­o­gy used on Saw’s 3D entry and a set-vis­it piece on Piranha 3D (in which Alexandre Aja claims there is a “satir­i­cal” ele­ment to his cel­lu­loid atroc­i­ty).  Even if you don’t care about the­se films, the arti­cles are solid­ly researched and writ­ten and offer some intrigu­ing tech­ni­cal info about mod­ern 3D process­es.

That is bal­anced out by a nice overview of 3D in hor­ror films from Michael Gingold and, best of all, an inter­view with Tony Anthony, the star/auteur behind Comin’ At Ya, the 3D spaghet­ti west­ern that kicked off the 3D boom of the ear­ly 1980’s.  It’s very cool to read about the nuts and bolts of how this film­mak­er revived what was a mori­bund for­mat and his plans to revive it for a mod­ern audi­ence using new 3D dig­i­tal tech­niques.  Since Piranha 3D is cov­ered, this also allows for a quick inter­view with Roger Corman about his his­to­ry of aquat­ic-themed ter­rors as well as a quick side­bar chat with Belinda Belaski, who starred in the orig­i­nal Piranha.

It’s also worth not­ing that Fangoria #296 bal­ances out its ros­ter of main­stream hor­ror-flick arti­cles with inter­na­tion­al­ly-themed pieces on Gaspar Noe’s Enter The Void and a Spanish ghost sto­ry enti­tled The Haunting.  The Void piece is par­tic­u­lar­ly effec­tive because it is an inter­view with Noe and allows him to give vent to an art­sy per­spec­tive you might not expect to find in an issue of Fangoria.  The fea­tures are round­ed out by a pair of nice inter­views with Dark Shadows star Jerry Lacy and leg­endary Italo-schlock direc­tor Luigi Cozzi.  The Lacy inter­view gets into some fun mate­ri­al about the wild­ly con­vo­lut­ed sto­ry­li­nes in Dark Shadows while the Cozzi inter­view focus­es on his fun Alien ripoff Contamination.  Both are well worth the read for the retro-mind­ed hor­ror fan.

Even the month­ly depart­ments pay homage to hor­ror his­to­ry.  In between the reviews of cur­rent books, discs and games, you’ll find a trib­ute to The Bad Seed’s Rhoda Penmark (the saint of killer kids in hor­ror cin­e­ma) and an inter­view with Christopher Coppola about his vam­pire odd­i­ty Dracula’s Widow.  The most inter­est­ing and unusu­al of the­se brief items is a piece that pays posthu­mous trib­ute to Dennis Hopper by dis­cussing an episode of The Twilight Zone that he gave a mem­o­rable per­for­mance in.  It’s a very inven­tive way to pay trib­ute to a depart­ed actor and much more inter­est­ing to read than the usu­al eulo­gy.

In short, Fangoria #296 shows that this vet­er­an of the mag­a­zine racks has a healthy respect for the genre’s past and isn’t afraid to expect it.  In a time where all forms of media obses­sive­ly pan­der to the youth mar­ket, it’s nice to see a peri­od­i­cal that views its sub­ject mat­ter as a con­tin­uüm instead of way to make mon­ey on the kids.  Your Humble Reviewer hopes it will con­tin­ue to wave the hor­ror his­to­ry flag high.