Thursday, January 27, 2011
FILMFAXplus NO. 125
Editor: Michael Stein
Publication Date: Fall 2010
Publisher: FILMFAX, Inc.
Color cover/ B&W interior
116 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $9.95
Subscription rates: One year: $30.00 US; Two years: $55.00 US
Hooray! FILMFAX has finally gone glossy! No more time-yellowed pages in the monster mag box for this venerable ‘zine, who celebrate their 125th issue in fine style. A key to FILMFAX’s success, I believe has been its ability to remain flexible in its coverage during times of movie fads and fancies. As a result, FILMFAX has been able to “morph with the times”, so to speak, and perhaps more effectively than any other commercial genre ‘zine.
True, FILMFAX (now with a title change to FILMFAXplus) could be considered one of those borderline genre hybrids that I’ve mentioned before (e.g. CINEMA RETRO). While primarily a monster/sci-fi magazine, FILMFAX has not been afraid to take editorial forays into all sorts of interesting movie topics – so much at one time that they devoted an entire magazine, OUTRÉ, from what seemed like the overflow. It appears now that they’ve tightened up the purse strings and combined everything into one magazine. It’s a smart idea, because it all works perfectly.
FILMFAX continues to be almost gratuitously ad-heavy, as a good part of each issue is taken up by pages selling the stuff they write about. Not such a bad thing, once you get used to it. Plus, now available direct from the FILMFAX private vaults are all sorts of stills, press books, and other one-of-a-kind memorabilia. The end result is almost like getting a full-size mail order catalogue along with your regular magazine for your 10 bucks.
Now, what about the contents itself this time around? Well, there’s plenty enough to chew on here. There’s material on NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (what monster mag would be brain dead enough NOT to include at least one thing about zombies in their issue?), an interview with Kim (FIEND WITHOUT A FACE) Parker, a really interesting piece on the “almost” forgotten films of Richard Gordon, a feature on Bob Burns, a look at JAWS 3-D (what self-respecting monster mag would be brain dead enough NOT to include at least one thing about 3-D movies in their issue?), and tons more. Cripes, there’s even an article on the Saturday Morning Cartoon character, THUNDARR, THE BARBARIAN!
If I had to come up with a gripe with FILMFAX, I’d have to say they could stand to improve on their photo repros. Even with the contrast of printing on glossy stock, they’ve got a good long ways to go with matching the hi-def sharpness and quality that can be found in such so-called “fanzines” as Jim Clatterbaugh’s magnificent MONSTERS FROM THE VAULT or upstart David Davey’s new creation, UNDYING MONSTERS. And, while nothing to do with the publication, per se, they could definitely use a sexier website and more user and shopper-friendly browsing options.
I’ve always considered FILMFAX to be about the most “literary” of the so-called “pro-zines”. Editor Michael Stein’s got a stable of top-notch, well-known and well-respected research journalists and writers aboard. If you enjoy discovering new details about a lot of old monster movies, it’s hard to beat FILMFAX. As mentioned in a previous post, after picking up a copy of issue #7, I have FILMFAX to rekindle my interest in monster ‘zines after a long drought without paying them much attention. After reading their historic 125th Anniversary issue, I’m as excited as ever to once again, be reading this great mag!