Wednesday, May 9, 2012

thoughts on Fangoria Legends presents: GEORGE A. ROMERO

I should preface this with the following full disclosure: I love George A. Romero. His Dead cycle specifically has informed my work almost as much as Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street, but his philosophy about filmmaking in genre is in there, too. For the record, my favourite of the Dead cycle is Day of the Dead.

Also, I love Fangoria. I haven't had a subscription as long as some of my counterparts because I couldn't afford it until I was in my late 20s, but I've been getting it off-and-on since I was at least eleven or twelve years old (unlike most people, I'm not afraid of my age: I turn 34 this October). I still have some of my older issues. For a long time, however, it became increasingly difficult to read Fango because they gave everything away in the interviews and major pieces on the films they were covering. If I already wanted to see the film they were writing about, I would skip the article entirely. If I started to read an article for a film I didn't know about and became interested in it, I would be spoiled for the plot. Then Chris Alexander came in and while I won't say that the spoiler situation has changed too much, I will say that he's brought some of my favourite pieces back to the mag and done some really good things with it. Yes, I say this even in spite of his...interesting...comments about Women in Horror Month.

When I heard that Fango was doing a line of special issues dedicated to the greats, I gigglesnorted and chairdanced as I'm sure most of my fellow horror fans did (but won't admit to because, you know, they're too cool for that). I plunked down my $9.99 plus shipping for the first issue, which is dedicated to George A. Romero, months ago and it was delivered to my P.O. box from which I picked it up yesterday.

It's very pretty and well put together. The interview with Romero at the end is strangely short and I would've loved to have heard ANYTHING from Lori Cardille or Gaylen Ross or Judith O'Dea. I mean, they interviewed Lynn Lowry from The Crazies, why not the ladies of the Dead cycle as well? And they interviewed John Russo, John Amplas, and Tom Savini, but where are Ken Foree or Joe Pilato or Russell Streiner? Also, if they're going to charge $10 for a special issue, there shouldn't be adverts for things not directly related to the subject. Such as, why are there adverts for Dark Night of the Scarecrow or Lost or Forgotten Photography on the first two pages? This isn't a standard issue of Fango, guys. As the blood spatter on the front says, it's an "ALL NEW SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION ISSUE!" And let me repeat: it doesn't come as part of the subscription. You have to order it separately for $9.99 plus shipping.

All right, now that that's off my chest, I can get to the nitty-gritty of why I'm actually writing this post. I'm not an expert; I'm a huge freakin' fan. Reading these pieces, it's easy to tell that these writers are fans, too. So imagine my surprise when I get to page 8 in which Fango editor Chris Alexander makes a mistake while recounting the plot of Romero's seminal NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD for those who've never seen the original: he says that Barbra and Johnny visit the grave of their mother. Uh, no. Not in the original. In the original, Johnny and Barbra are visiting the grave of their father at the behest of their mother. (2:30 into the video I linked to here.) In the Tom Savini-directed remake from 1990, they're visiting the grave of their mother.

Fast forward to the Dawn of the Dead piece, also written by Chris Alexander. On page 24/25 is this quote in the recap of the film's plot: "It's the end of the world - perhaps following Night, perhaps in another universe altogether." It's the same universe. Dawn starts in the Night, if you will, and when Stephen (Flyboy) flies the helicopter over the field of rednecks out hunting the ghouls, that's the end of Night. Because Dawn takes place over several months, it's possible to correlate the end of Dawn to the beginning of Day except for the fact that the ghouls aren't as decomposed at the end of Dawn (a slight technical issue, but one worth noting.)

And then we get to the Day of the Dead piece written by Sean Smithson. On page 36, Smithson misquotes the film by saying that the underground caverns are a "three-mile-long-tombstone." What John actually says is that it's a "great big, 14 mile tombstone." (Specifically around the 1:15 mark in the video I linked to.) (Smithson graciously ignores the fact that Romero screwed up in placing the film in Florida, where I live. You can't have underground caverns here, not without some major water issues.)

As for the rest of the pieces (including Land, Diary, and Survival), they're correct as far as I can tell. I really like Land and Diary, but have only seen Survival twice. Knightriders and Creepshow are probably my favourite of his non-Dead films. Martin's a great take on vampire lore, but I've never been a big vampire fan so it ranks fairly low only for that reason. But, because my nerdity doesn't extend as much to the rest of Romero's oeuvre, I can't verify if the pieces are correct. My point is that I, and other fans like me, shouldn't have to. That's the job of the people writing the pieces and, finally, Chris Alexander's job as editor of the magazine. Typos happen. Mistakes happen. But so many mistakes in an "ALL NEW SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION ISSUE!" from Fangoria, the preeminent American horror movie magazine? Disappointing.

Let's lighten things up (yeah, yeah, it's mainly sci-fi...)

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