Fangoria Magazine Cover

How the new publication measures up to its legendary predecessor

Billed as “the first in fright since 1979”, Fangoria Magazine was a beloved publication that appealed to generations of genre lovers and gore hounds alike. It ran a darker tone than Starlog Magazine and seemed boundary pushing to the teenage (or child or pre-teen more likely) buyer since it felt like “Adult” magazine material. Eventually running to 10 months/issues per year, the slasher boom of the 80’s put Fangoria on the major map to all-time Horror greats. The directors of today often credit the magazine with inspiring them through its new coverage or retrospectives on horror media content. In 2015, the last of the Fangoria magazines, featuring the goddess herself, Elvira, hit shelves. Then, nothing….subscribers sat frustrated with promises of new or exclusive issues….and the rest sat without. The names commonly associated with the piece began dropping off and moving onto competitor brands.

Thanks to so many fellow readers sharing their tweets with the world, it brought back memories of how you would get your issue, flip through it to catch a revealing glimpse at what is in store, and proceed to read each and every section from the largest article, a snippet of upcoming news, some fan letter about a movie they didn’t like, to the distributor advertisements and classified ads. Literally, every part felt like a gateway into a little more depravity for gurus of all types. That’s what it meant to be a Fangoria reader – to feel like you had inside access and were not alone.

With horror back in the spotlight thanks to Stephen King’s IT, Get Out, Happy Death Day and anticipation for Halloween 2018, fans were dropped with the greatest Godzilla-sized bombshell of all: Fangoria magazine was coming back. Thanks to the saving graces of new Publisher Dallas Sonnier and Texas Company CINESTATE, a 35+ year treasure would be rolling out gloriously gruesome pages once again. There was much weight on their shoulders as subscribers were feeling burned and long-time fans worried that the proverbial ball would be bloodied and dropped. Reviewing a strategic business plan that would effectively re-instate nostalgia for print media and offer a product worthy of hard-earned cash, CINESTATE created a subscriber model consisting of its four-issue annual run at a discounted price. Still, compared to the $10 cover price of the old magazine, asking almost triple the amount seemed ballsy and upsetting. There would be no Fangoria on their magazines shelves at the store and any personal budgets would have to be compiled and re-configured so that a lump sum payment could be made. The new Editor-in-Chief, Phil Nobile Jr., was a Fangoria fanboy and the buyers – they were his people and he knew he had to appeal to those masses. Hitting Twitter once the announcement took to the mainstream, he was able to satiate concerns and promised that this new iteration would not cheat buyers of premium content. Guess what: Phil Nobile Jr. was right!

Fangoria Magazine Cover

Fangoria says, “We’re Back!”

Fangoria Magazine: “We’re Back!”

Packaged in an old-school, “Adult” material, black plastic bag, the new Fangoria Magazine was 114 pages of 100lb. Gloss Text paper stock beauty. It wasn’t just a magazine, this was a small book! Perfectly bound, the thicker stock cover gave extra stability and weight; a good-call by whomever it was since this likely aided in the magazine not getting bent up in postal transit. October 2nd, 2018, the first wave of pre-orders was complete and ready to strike that postal system everywhere. Some companies prefer to rebrand their product look but with great admiration and respect, CINESTATE maintained the classic look, text, columns and layout. Actually, the layout was a bit different inside because there was so much material but was no short-changing its reader; one magazine would have the content power of three.

Gracing the cover for this epic return: Michael Myers! Halloween 2018 was indeed approaching and only the creation from Master of Horror John Carpenter could be the star of this show. The Shape returning, ready to battle beloved icon Jamie Lee Curtis for the fifth time in the franchise history, coincided nicely with the Fangoria return and together, provided genre fans with a double dose of trick-or-treating. Not just fantastic new coverage Halloween (many regular horror magazines published variations on the same set visit) for 2018, there were over five more articles based on the franchise and its fandom. There wasn’t a single thing Halloween franchise related that wasn’t mentioned at some point in there so checkmarks galore on this one.

Not shy about the disappointing decline of the original magazine, the content creators address the trials, tribulations and resurrection of Fangoria. Long-time, childhood readers were greeted with words from the original co-founders Norm Jacobs and Kerry O’Quinn as well as the beginnings of its origin backstory with Fango mainstay Tony Timpone. Having the core original players involved to pass on the verbal torch or take on new, recurring content roles meant that the brand was in good hands. Not just fresh writers had the chances to have content published, but key genre names such as Don Coscarelli and Barbara Crampton took to the pen and paper to give readers new narrative voices to feed their brains with stories.

The Postal Zone, Monster Invasion, Contributors Crypt, Things to Come, Nightmare Library and even the Classified Ads are all still kickin with new articles of various lengths covering Suspiria, Dawn of the Dead, Comic Strips, Retrospectives, as well as the independent film Campfire Tales and Eli Roth’s The House with a Clock in Its Walls.

However, one of the best articles that will cause eyebrows to rise and mouths to drool, is the newly unearthed script drafts of what were the original plans for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: Part II.  Including scanned pages from said scripts, some killer artwork and even the results of a detective like story, this article written by William Wilson shed fresh blood on the franchise and what could have been. To my shock, Sally Hardesty, was set to appear in the sequel with an expanded and certainly prominent part. Am I going to spoil here? Absolutely not!

Ultimately, the new Fangoria has delivered on its price tag. Copies are still just reaching readers hands; it was six weeks alone until I got mine and daily the tweets are being posted about this precious package arriving at their door. The only complaint would be it is so nicely produced, that some readers like myself, will have difficulty reading the articles where the words are near the spine because you won’t want to create those creases in the covers. However, the editors can’t very well be responsible for nutty OCD readers trying to preserve their piece over enjoying the full extent of the content. Trust me; please don’t stop this binding type because the magazine is a wonderful work of art that can now rival Encyclopedia bookshelves. They have kept our hearts alive, and whether directors, producers, actors or writers, of any media, Fangoria Magazine has once more inspired us to continue with what we love… to be scared and tell about it.

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Jeff T. Smith
Written by Jeff T. Smith
Jeff is a Canadian-born Horror-holic — or alcoholic depending on whom you ask. His interest falls mainly into the horror genre, but does enjoy a variety of beer and alcohol. He also was a former Creative Writer in the Ontario Independent Wrestling scene and performed as villainous ringside Manager Kyle Davenport. Unapologetically driven and creative, Jeff isn’t afraid to speak his mind or share his opinion. Follow Jeff on Twitter @KDavJeff or Find on Facebook at facebook.com/jeff.t.smith.3.