I don't even know where to start with. Collated, edited and published in just over a year or so - and act of complete madness when you see the amount of material inside - John Szpunar's epochal, definitive tome on horror movie zines, and their writers, is an incredible accomplishment from start to finish.
John knows his material, and loves it unreservedly. His passion and knowledge shine through in every funny, weird, demented, fascinating interview with writers and weirdos from America, Australia, England, Scotland, etc. - basically anywhere on the planet where people loved horror movies in the long-gone dazed days before the internet, and set about producing sick, funny, weird, disturbing, rude, crude, erudite horror zines retching their material up from the gutters and cracked psyches of obsessive horror film buffs.
Anybody who loves horror/splatter/weirdo/cult movies will love this book. It's by turns hilarious, poignant, informative, strange, slightly creepy (a couple of the personalities showcased are pretty odd), illuminating...and always fascinating. Some of the lengths some of the interviewees went to in the book, more especially in the UK, to see and write about their fave fearstorm flickershows, almost beggars belief. These guys were passionate as hell about their esoteric cinematic obsessions, and wanted to communicate about them in as direct and uncensored a way as possible. And they did.
If you are a horror fan, buy this book. If you like horror writing, buy this book. If you like extremely entertaining insights into weird and wonderful misfit personalities, buy this book. If you want to help John buy Christmas presents this year, buy this book. If you hate horror films, buy this book, shred it, and feel morally superior. But BUY IT ALREADY. You truly won't be sorry you did, because NOTHING on this scale (and this work is as much sociology and anthropology as it is entertainment) about this subject matter has ever been attempted, and nothing ever will again. THIS IS IT. END OF THE LINE. Nowhere to go from here; the job's been done, and done well, in a totally fitting and excellent zine-print aesthetic at that.
John Szpunar, take a bow. This is a truly stunning accomplishment. Salute.
Genre fans will not be disappointed! Just remember that this incredibly comprehensive volume is mainly interviews with some of the great scenesters from the halcyon days of horror fanzines, rather than reviews of the films themselves. I loved Gore Score, Fangoria, Little Shoppe of Horrors, Deep Red and all the other, increasingly obscure mags from that era, so this is a great nostalgia for me; there was a thriving scene here in the UK, thanks to the'Video Nasties' controversy, and this is a loving trip down memory lane...although that lane is littered with corpses... A definitive look at an influential era, I highly recommend this incredible 800 page volume, which leaves no stone unturned.
Okay - downside, this is a 'compact' volume, which I assume is due to costs - it would be preferable in a slightly larger format; The small scale makes some of the included graphics difficult to appreciate - but even so...get it!
'Samhain'; 'Bleeder's Digest'; 'Shock Xpress; 'Deep Red'; 'Whiplash Smile'; 'The Imagination Explosion'. Mainstays of my youth . Backed up by 'Cinefantastique' and 'Fangoria'. Anyone whom read them in the eighties will be transported back in time to a decade where 'video nasties' were as banned as sought after. Where the VRA took the fun out of going to video stores. And where the shelves of 'Forbidden Planet' were burdened under the weight of fanzines vying for readers' attention. Indispensible.
Barrel Entertainment's John Szpunar interviews around fifty of the most interesting and influential figures of the DIY horror fanzine scene of the 80s and 90s. David Kerekes also contribes a few fascinating discussions. This is 800 pages of fully-illustrated awesomeness, and is tonnes better than that Bleeding Skull nonsense.