Sunday, January 10, 2010

Book Review: Fangoria's Best Horror Films

Fangoria's Best Horror Films
Edited By: Anthony Timpone
Published 1994, 95 pages

This may be the single most deceiving title of any book I have ever read. Ever. A more appropriate title would have been "Most Self-Indulgent Articles Published In Fangoria, Many Of Which Involve Terrible Movies." Rather than being an objective overview of the films that have come out since Fangoria Magazine's inception in 1979, editor Tony Timpone has assembled what presumably were the most well-received articles that had been written up until the book's publication in 1994. I would hope that this isn't the case, because if it were, it isn't saying much for the magazine.

While there are several excellent overviews of particular decades, the most noticeable of which was written by Italian film historian Tim Lucas, there are also passable chapters that reprint actor's journals from movie sets as well as highly opinionated articles that favor the author's interpretation of the film over a proper review and objective analysis. There is just no consistency whatsoever from chapter to chapter, though the table of contents does list the chapter sections more appropriately.

Now, would you expect to see the following titles in any book containing the title "Best Horror Films":

-Alien 3
-Friday the 13th Part VIII
-Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
-Darkman
-Hellraiser 3
-Total Recall (Horror?)

Considering the only part of this text that is an original piece is the introduction, the collection feels like a cheap way to produce additional capital for the magazine without having to expend any additional time or effort in its production. If I desperately wanted to read about Doug Bradley's days on the set of HELLRAISER 3 or how much Douglas E. Winter discredits ALIEN's genius, I could have just picked up back issues of the magazine.

I can't rightfully say that the book is an entire failure. Fangoria hasn't been one of the leading Horror magazines for nothing. The individual writers are each well versed in the genre and quite knowledgeable of the specific topics they are discussing. There are many rare articles and interviews that I wouldn't have thought to look for otherwise, including interviews with Vincent Price, Rick Baker, Francis Ford Coppola and others. It is more a matter of a misleading title and awkward arrangement of articles that detracts from the book's overall appeal.

For die hard fans of the magazine that may have missed some of the issues circa 1994 or earlier, it includes a fine exemplar of what you would have expected from Fangoria in its first 15yrs of publication. Anyone looking for a collective of Horror reviews as a resource in finding unique and relatively unknown films, this is not the book for you.

Rating: 7/10.



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5 comments:

  1. I have the 'Fangoria's 100 Best Films You Have Never Seen' book and it's a okay from what I remember. I didn't even know they had another book before that one.

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  2. You are right on Carl, the book is a bit weak for true horror content. I do own it and it has been my Fango con autograph book for years. Now it holds a ton of value to me with all the signatures and memories; much better then the original material :)

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  3. I love Fangoria's 101 Matt, but I was expecting something similar in this entry that was found lacking.

    Chris, you inspired me to get this one, the cover haunted me for years since you first brought it to the cons, and I was so excited to find it for $0.04 online. Im still glad to have read it, but it is more like an extended issue of the magazine than any true Horror reference. Your copy must be the single most collectible piece of Horror memorabilia in existence with all the signatures youve gathered of the years!

    I finally found our 2005 bags with Bob Clark and others back before I started bringing the DVD covers, so many memories, Im sure you have a picture from Alex de la Iglesias in there somewhere too =D

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  4. Carl, Your right it is a rehash of articles but occasionally a good picture or funky reference; I have a few other, better horror references/guides. I do have my Bob Clark autograph, my Alex dela Iglesias self portrait and many more; good, fun stuff. Grabbin my 2010 tix for LA WOH to continue my annual convention trip; Go Argento.

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  5. Glad to hear you will be making it Chris, it wouldnt be the same without you this year! Now, what do I bring to have signed with so many options..

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