Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Fangoria Flashbacks: 1996-1999

Fangoria 1996-1999: Countdown to the Millennium

After some thought, I have decided to re-vamp the series once more.  The year-by-year, issue-by-issue thing worked up to a point but I sort of feel burnt out with that format.  It's gotten repetitious and if there is one thing that is the death of creativity, it is repetition. Therefore, I will be briefly covering the magazine in five year increments (four in this case), taking more of a personal perspective since this was really the peak time for me as a fan of the magazine.  Rather than examining each issue in depth, I will throw out a little blurb for the ones I have read and have an opinion/memory of.  Sort of a hybrid of the Fangoria series and the VHS Memories stuff I used to do (and may do again).  These will be longer than normal posts (to put it mildly since now I'll be showing all the issues from each year), but hopefully they will be informative and entertaining as well.  After that, I will do a piece on covers I missed and then this project will be done.

As I said in another post, Fangoria got me hooked on the genre in the summer of 1993 and has maintained an iron grip ever since.  Give or take a few small gaps and one or two large ones.

1996

 1996 was a regenerative year for the genre but the magazine kept on chugging along, starting with the awesome 150th issue.  Tons of retrospective stuff, a nice centerfold of all the issues published to that point plus some current things to fill things out made this one hell of a way to start a year.  Another interesting touch is the extension of the Dr. Cyclops video review column to include laser disc reviews.  It will expand as DVD becomes dominant but that's next year.


 Things are pretty status quo for the most part in the first half of the year with the usual previews of whatever new stuff is coming out (in this case, the surprisingly good Tremors 2 makes the cover) and little bit of retro stuff for flavor.  The piece on the KNB-created f/x for From Dusk Till Dawn is also good.

 Amusingly enough, this issue begins the coverage of the rather meh monster movie The Relic which ended up not being released until January of 1997.

 The summer movie season coverage begins with good stuff on Peter Jackson's pretty damned good The Frighteners.

 This issue and the next one feature a fascinating two part article on the tumultuous making of the Marlon Brando/Val Kilmer version of The Island of Dr. Moreau. It was plagued by egotistical performers, bad weather, changing directors and pretty much anything else that can go wrong on a film set.




 Things are rather paint by numbers for the rest of the year until the release of Wes Craven's Scream in December.  By this point, I have to admit I was getting a little burnt out on the magazine.  There were solid articles and the presentation was great but the crop of films in release just weren't cutting it and it was beginning to affect the quality of the magazine.  It's hard to give a crap when it seems like the guy writing the article is less than enthused as well.  1997 would give the genre a bit of a boost, but it also saw me take a breather.

1997
 This was the last issue I bought for over a year as finances and a general lack of interest just sucked away my enthusiasm.  Still, the magazine was still pretty good (over the years I've filled in a lot of blank spots, mostly 1997-1998) and they made some small cosmetic changes by way of playing with the logo's color scheme and the page borders.  It's a look that has remained pretty consistent since, even with bankruptcies, changes in ownership and a ton of other crap.

They had some pretty nice covers too.




 Big as the movie was, I'm not sure The Lost World really warranted two covers in a row.  It's also a little funny to have the magazine wrapping their Relic coverage over a year after the first article was printed.





 The distinctly mediocre Alien: Resurrection finished off the 1997 run of issues and capped off a pretty decent year in horror.  Things started slow but there was good stuff towards the end of the year.  I'd get back into the swing of things in late 1998.

1998

1998 was interesting in that by this point, the genre was in full on "Let's take the Scream approach to everything!" with self-awareness, teen casts and floating head poster art that looked like ads for the new WB teen drama.  There are some good elements, however and the magazine is pretty much the same it was in 1997.

 Deep Rising is actually not that bad, it's just fun enough for me to give it a pass.



 Sure, the new version that came out that summer stunk like death but at least we got an awesome Godzilla/Gamera special issue out of it!



 This was the first issue I bought in a while after I stopped in 1997.  Wasn't quite back in the swing of things though, good issue though with a nice piece on John Carpenter's Vampires.  Better than the movie ended up being, anyway.

 I've come to really dig the fourth Phantasm film.  It's bizarre, disjointed and weird but somehow it ends up working rather well.


 1998 was much 1997: The magazine was solid enough and there was a lot to cover, but a lot of it was hit and miss.  The next year would see the magazine increase its DVD coverage and also win back my affections for a brief period.

1999

 With this year, I was back on board (with the exception of one issue which I snagged later on) and was pretty pleased for the most part.


 Here's the issue I missed the boat on, a damn good one covering the enjoyable remake of The Mummy as well as some other good stuff.


 On the one hand, the magazine's 20th anniversary issue is a nice, glossy piece of work that look great.  On the downside, this was also the point in time where that horrid remake of The Haunting was released.  Can't win them all, I guess.



 The fall of 1999 saw some fairly decent horror films come out.  The remake of House on Haunted Hill is fun, as is Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow.


Not as much fun is the third Scream film which ended up ending the franchise for a while.

1999 was actually a pretty good year for horror even if the magazine was stagnating.  The articles were fine but there was an overall feeling of staleness to the product.  The publication was about to undergo some pretty massive changes in the next decade with pretty much the only constant being a lack of certainty.

Coming soon: Fangoria 2000-2004, The Lean Years

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.