Three years ago, when I drew up a listing of various periodicals that had helped inspire the content of this site, I figured I was committing my biggest-ever waste of time. Nobody, it seemed, was interested in magazines any more, or print media in general. What a surprise, then, when LOOKING BACK ON SOME BAD INFLUENCES went on to become one of my most popular articles!
It was so popular, in fact, that I was inspired to dig through my magazine collection in search of more eighties and nineties-era bad influences. In truth all the really good stuff was aired in the previous article, but most of the 31 mags described below are worthy, even if all are, obviously, extremely dated.
No complaints here: a magazine dedicated to alternative artists like Robert Williams, J.K. Potter, Joe Coleman and H.R. Giger–all guys I like–with colorful reproductions of the artwork under discussion and a bold, imaginative layout.
A graphic anthology edited by THE CROW’S James O’Barr and FROM INSIDE’S John Bolton that’s very much in the mold of TABOO and FLY IN MY EYE (see below) in its concentration on all things freakish and grotesque. As such it’s pretty strong, though far from the most potent anthology of its type. It seems Bolton and O’Barr were warming up for bigger and better things that never occurred, as BONE SAW only saw a single entry.
Full disclosure: I’ve only ever seen one issue of this 1980s-era magazine dedicated to movie scoring–issue #15 from 1986–but it’s a good ‘un. I like it primarily because it features an interview (reprinted from the L.A. READER) with the late Jerry Goldsmith, who bitches at length about having his score for Ridley Scott’s LEGEND replaced. As the interviewer makes clear in his preamble, Goldsmith is “obviously upset” about the situation, and has plenty of choice words about Scott…even though a decade later Goldsmith would himself replace another composer’s score (for AIR FORCE ONE). Where, I wonder, was CINEMASCORE then?
This slim, text-heavy periodical explored “the World of Bizarre Video,” and arguably did so better than PSYCHOTRONIC and its ilk. True, ECCO’S formatting–three columns of eye-straining text per page–was a constant irritant, but the articles and reviews were usually always well written and informative, illuminating many of the darker corners of the cult movie landscape (although to be quite honest, I’ve had negative feelings about this ‘zine ever since I tried ordering videos from outfits touted in ECCO’S editorials and got ripped the fuck off!).
EUROPEAN TRASH CINEMA
As with quite a few of the mags I used to read, the once-revelatory info contained in EUROPEAN TRASH CINEMA has long since been bested by innumerable books, blogs and DVDs focused on the type of “Trash Cinema” ETC once had the exclusive dirt on. But it’s important to remember that back when ETC was in its prime (in the early nineties) it was the only truly worthwhile resource on the films of Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Jess Franco, et al.
FANTACO 1991 HORROR YEARBOOK
I only have this one edition of the early-1990s FantaCo Horror Yearbook series, put out as an adjunct to the once-thriving FantaCon Horror Conventions.
Truth be told, I never thought much of this periodical back in the day, being taken up as it is mostly with ads and lists of magazines, collectibles, movies and so forth, together with short essays by Chas. Balun and FACTSHEET FIVE publisher Mike Gunderloy about the evils of censorship (evidently a big concern back in ‘91). These days, however, I find perusing THE FANTACO 1991 HORROR YEARBOOK a profoundly nostalgic experience: its literary merits may be scant, but as a 1991 time capsule it can’t be bettered!
This solid “Magazine of Imaginative Media” thrived during the late 1970s and early 80s. In layout and content it’s like a combination of STARLOG and FANGORIA–the very mags, it seems, that did this one in–with articles and interviews about then-current sci fi/fantasy/horror flicks.
FLESH & BLOOD
Another stellar 1990s cult film oriented publication from the UK-based FAB Press, who also put out the essential EYEBALL. Like that mag, this one is extremely slick and well designed, with much revealing info on films like AFTERMATH, A GUN FOR JENNIFER and LOST HIGHWAY, as well as the oeuvres of Tinto Brass, Stephen Sayadian and Bigas Luna.
FLY IN MY EYE
A young Steven Niles edited this TABOO-esque, staunchly adult-oriented graphic anthology series that, if I’m not mistaken, lasted four trade paperback formatted issues. The contents weren’t as strong overall as TABOO, but there were some terrific entries nonetheless. Bill Wray’s adaptation of Ramsey Campbell’s autobiographical essay “At the Back of My Mind: A Guided Tour” was fairly resonant, and a wordless photographic narrative by J.K. Potter was unforgettable.
Another of those highly attitudinous punk zines so popular during the nineties. This one is better than most, largely because its interests stretch beyond the punk music scene. Issue #17 is particularly strong, containing in-depth interviews with filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky and author Rudy Rucker, as well as revealing book reviews by the great Lewis Shiner.
A short-lived labor of love by editor John Martin, who in this mag explored Italian exploitation cinema and its leading practitioners (Argento, Bava, Fulci, Margheriti, Steele, etc) long before it became fashionable. Much of the info contained in these pages can now be found in more readily available books like SPAGHETTI NIGHTMARES and IMMORAL TALES, but one wholly unique thing GIALLO PAGES has in its favor is a lengthy 1992 interview with Quentin Tarantino, wherein he talks exclusively about his enthusiasm for pastaland trash cinema (with special attention given to Enzo Castallari’s INGLORIOUS BASTARDS). It may just be the finest QT interview ever, and that’s no small claim!
As far as I know, this “Newsletter of the AMOK Bookstore” lasted just one issue. That’s too bad, as it showed definite promise.
The AMOK crew were more knowledgeable about freaky and subversive books than anyone else, and that knowledge was fully evident in THE HARBINGER. It contains revealing info on William Cooper’s infamous conspiracy tome BEHOLD A PALE HORSE, Bill Buford’s AMONG THE THUGS, John Gilmore’s Black Dahlia study SEVERED and quite a few other worthwhile non-mainstream publications.
THE HORROR SHOW
To modern readers this mag reads like a warm-up to the superior CEMETERY DANCE, and in truth that’s pretty much what THE HORROR SHOW was. Edited by the popular horror scribe David B. Silva, it was one of the first independently produced horror magazines of the eighties. Its premiere issue appeared back in 1986, when the genre was at its height, and its last a few years later, just as the genre began its 90s-era decline.
As with the aforementioned CEMETERY DANCE, THE HORROR SHOW contained serious-minded fiction, editorials and reviews. It was never as strong as CEMETERY DANCE (or even MIDNIGHT GRAFFITTI), but again, THE HORROR SHOW was one of the first out of the gate, and for that deserves credit.
Of the many literary horror rags listed herein, INIQUITIES’ three issues are by far the glossiest. Printed on expensive paper and filled to bursting with photos and illustrations (and, in the special John Skipp and Craig Spector issue, an LP of Skipp & Spector rock tunes), INIQUITIES was nothing if not slick. It was also quite edifying in its knowledge of and enthusiasm for the genre; the publisher and co-editor was the late Buddy Martinez, a mighty sharp dude I was once lucky enough to work under (when Martinez oversaw the final issues of GAUNTLET magazine).
So why was INIQUITIES so short-lived? I think it’s because it appeared in the early nineties, the commencement of the genre’s decade-long eclipse, and definitely the wrong time to start up a horror mag!
A nineties-era horror fanzine, and one of the better ones. I admittedly never procured too many issues, but the few I did pick up remain treasured possessions.
Among other things, it was from MORTAL REMAINS that I learned the truth about the infamous snuff film scare that involved Charlie Sheen, the GUINEA PIG: FLOWER OF FLESH AND BLOOD video and the late Chas. Balun (the details of this account, as presented here, were confirmed by Balun himself in a FUNERAL PARTY interview).
Fact: a couple of MORTAL REMAINS’ writers were called away to write for BLACKEST HEART magazine, one of my favorite nineties’ underground publications, and in my view a definite confirmation of MORTAL REMAINS’ qualities.
I’m deeply embarrassed to admit I was once a frequent reader of this uber-trashy movie mag, which appears to have been aimed at readers who find the ENQUIRER too highbrow.
I’m referring, of course, to the old MOVIELINE of the late eighties (when it began as a freebie given out at movie theaters) and nineties, and not the fashion-oriented glossy it later became. Back in its heyday MOVIELINE was without question the most controversial movie-themed publication on the scene, notorious for its questionable journalistic practices (ripping off titles and themes from other mags, etc) and staunchly irreverent attitude.
And yet the mag had many fun features. It was one of the first periodicals to feature the writing of the perpetually bitter Joe Queenan, who’s pissed off more celebrities than seemingly anyone else. MOVIELINE also ran an unforgettable 1994 interview with Charlie Sheen, who it seemed was in the midst of his worst-ever meltdown (little did we know…). Also featured was a column called “Life on the Edge” by somebody named Christopher Hunt, a (real? invented?) Hollywood sleaze who related his sordid Tinseltown misadventures (sexually harassing a secretary, etc) in extremely frank fashion.
I prefer the mid-1990s issues of this indie film screed over its more recent, and much slicker, ones. Those early issues have a definite homemade charm to them, and really succeed in conveying the excitement and boundless possibility so many of us felt about independent filmmaking in the nineties–an attitude far removed, obviously, from the widespread cynicism and disinterest pervading the indie film scene of today!
This Andy Black edited “Journal of Horror and Erotic Cinema” numbers six jam-packed installments. My own preference will always be for the first two volumes from 1996 and ‘98 (full disclosure: I have yet to get around to reading any of the subsequent ones).
True, the essays contained herein are a tad pretentious and intellectual for my tastes (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: over-intellectualizing horror and exploitation films is a BAD IDEA!), but the subject matter alone renders these must reads: Jean Rollin, Marco Ferreri, Walerian Borowczyk, H.P. Lovecraft, H.G. Lewis, Nazisploitation, extreme horror manga, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, SE7EN, THE EVIL DEAD and much more, all profusely illustrated with tons of revealing photographs.
One of the few true collectors’ items on this list, an unabashedly intellectual eighties era horror-themed periodical that’s best known nowadays for the fact that it introduced the world to Thomas Ligotti. As edited by illustrator Harry O. Morris, this mag was highly idiosyncratic, with an overall love of surrealism and bizarre fiction of any stripe.
Tracking down copies of NYCTALOPS isn’t easy (or cheap), but I can assure you that doing so will be well worth your while.
Comic book legend Jim Steranko edited this eighties-era movie mag (expanded from Steranko’s earlier MEDIASCENE), which now reads like an unholy mash-up of PREMIERE and MAXIM. It contained much gushing, publicist-friendly info on various (then) upcoming movies, yet the overall focus was on hot, scantly-clad chicks (with pervy layouts of eighties babes like Sybil Danning, Tanya Roberts, Barbara Bach, etc). Of course, PREVUE’S primary attraction nowadays is simple eighties nostalgia.
A 1990s-era British film journal, published as a series of trade paperbacks, that was co-edited by the renowned British filmmaker John Boorman. Of interest to us: a lengthy interview with MAD MAX’S George Miller, a diary by Francis Ford Coppola made during the production of BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, and another by Richard Stanley covering the making of DUST DEVIL.
All those things, FYI, come from PROJECTIONS’ first three issues. After that it degenerated in quality, with Boorman and co-editor Walter Donohue increasingly handing over the editorial reigns to others, and quality control generally going out the window. Correction: issue #5 was actually quite strong, containing interviews with Henry Selick and Ray Harryhausen, a conversation between Quentin Tarantino and Brian DePalma, and a piece on Todd Haynes’ SAFE.
The Adam Parfrey edited APOCALYPSE CULTURE, a still-potent anthology of real-life bizarrie, had a profound effect on the underground. Among the offshoots of this seminal tome were the Stuart Sweezey edited AMOK JOURNAL, Parfrey’s own CULT RAPTURE, the HEADPRESS Journals and this thick three volume Simon Dwyer edited anthology.
In true APOCALYPSE CULTURE fashion, these books consist of a potpourri of weirdness and subversion. The cumulative effect isn’t as strong as it could be (frankly there are a lot of lesser entries), but RAPID EYE still features damn good stuff, notably a lengthy interview with screenwriter Paul Mayersberg and an excellent overview of the books of T. Lobsang Rampa.
This long-shuttered mag can no longer lay claim to being “Britain’sLongest Running Horror Film Magazine,” but it was one of the stronger ones (better certainly than SHIVERS!), with a colorful layout, numerous opinionated articles and the expected interviews with all the usual suspects (Romero, Cronenberg, Corman, Craven, Jodorowsky, Gordon, etc).
A mag dedicated primarily to pre-1960 horror and mystery movies. You might ask why you should bother with this when you can read the more popular FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND in its place–and in truth you may well be better off doing just that. There is some good stuff to be found in SCARLET STREET, however, including several strong articles on the films of Alfred Hitchcock, all of them must-reads if you’re a fan.
A decent enough cult movie screed, though far from an essential read. Still, I maintain that any mag containing articles on TETSUO, NEKROMANTIK, Alejandro Jodorowsky and a pre-LORD OF THE RINGS Peter Jackson is at the very least worth a look.
This nicely formatted English fanzine-turned-legitimate periodical was short-lived (though it briefly attained infamy due to the fact that its August 1990 issue was censored), but the few issues it turned out were memorable ones. SKELETON CREW was concerned with, essentially, all things horror-related, from comics (Neil Gaiman was interviewed), novels (so too THE WASP FACTORY’S Iain Banks), movies, art and so forth. That probably explains why it didn’t last long: its focus was far too scattershot!
Stop that snickering! Yes, this kid-oriented sci fi mag sucks, but it’s valuable to this website because a). I used to read it all the time back in the eighties, so it must have had some influence on how I write, and b). it directly begat FANGORIA. I understand that back in the eighties STARLOG was by far the bigger seller of the two, with FANGORIA viewed as its “sister” publication–but by the end of the nineties those roles had been sharply reversed.
There’s admittedly not a whole lot in STARLOG of interest to us (the reason I got rid of most of my back issues). Well, okay, I do recall a couple of fun things: a two-part 1985 interview with Harlan Ellison in which he cusses up a storm, calls BACK TO THE FUTURE a “piece of shit” and bitches out his interviewer, as well as a Gene Rodenberry profile in which he dismisses all religion as “idiotic nonsense.” Both articles, you can be sure, caused substantial uproars among STARLOG’S highly conservative readership.
Sorta like a low-rent L.A. centric knock-off of INTERVIEW, complete with chintzy photo layouts of parties thrown by VENICE’S staff and the many famous folks that attended, as well as reviews of movies, CDs and DVDs by writers who never have a single negative thing to say.
What makes this magazine worthwhile are the interviews that make up the bulk of every issue. In this area the mag’s low-rentness is actually a point in its favor, as VENICE’S publishers will include interviews with pretty much any semi-famous person they can find, resulting in revealing profiles on many interesting folk (as well as quite a few losers) that the more exclusive INTERVIEW would never touch. Best of all is the price: since its early nineties inception VENICE has always been available for FREE at various L.A. locales.
Truth be told, I’ve never read any issues of this magazine–comprised, apparently, of “The Most Horrific Erotic Literature Being Published Today”–and don’t know much about it. My interest is solely in the Spring ‘96 issue, which contained the first ever print listing for this site!
WRAPPED IN PLASTIC
Yes, this is the long-running TWIN PEAKS fanzine. I was admittedly never a huge fan of this publication, or TWIN PEAKS in general (ditto THE X-FILES, another program extensively covered in these pages). I do however like David Lynch, and WRAPPED IN PLASTIC contained much info on his work outside TWIN PEAKS, including a terrific article contrasting Lynch’s films with those of Stanley Kubrick. Good stuff!