Wednesday, April 25, 2012
FAMOUS MONSTERS ANNIVERSARY STINKER
Even the most die-hard fans of the legendary FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND would agree that the magazine wasn't perfect by a long shot, and once in a while (some of us say more often than that) there was even a downright gawd-awful issue. For instance, some were nothing more than what amounted to a giant reprint, cobbled together from previous issues with the exception of a new cover and maybe a "Things to Come" film news feature and a department or two.
Flash forward about 30 years and, despite the claim of being a "retro" issue, I'm getting this negative deja vu all over again. I'm talking of course about the latest attempt at publisher Phil "Kim Kong" to entice a few extra bucks out of us baby-boomers with another "special issue", this time a "25th Anniversary Collector's Edition".
Now, regular readers of MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD know that my reviews of monster mags -- both old and new -- are generally even-tempered. That is to say that I give credit where credit is due and even effuse a bit to the extreme when I get particularly excited about a certain title. I will, however, go so far as to say it when something is so wince-inducing that it would defy any journalistic integrity left in me if I neglected to pronounce fair warning. I'm sorry to say, but this "special collector's edition" is one of 'em.
The issue is numbered as FAMOUS MONSTERS (the "of FILMLAND" part of the logo is mysteriously absent) #192 and the premise is as if Forrest J Ackerman had edited the magazine back in 1983.
The "Speaking of Monsters" intro, intended to read like it was written by FJA himself goes on and on into alliterative oblivion. By the time Dr. Ackula has signed off with "Beast Wishes", I was tearing my fur out. Next comes a "Fang Mail" section that has just enough content to pass for a letters section.
And, I guess that's the overall impression I got when reading this magazine -- there's just enough to allow it to pass for a retro issue. Despite my misgivings, there is a little to give the faded gem a little lustre. For instance, I enjoyed Joe Moe's coverage of Larry Cohen's Q THE WINGED SERPENT, and Max Cheney's overview of Sci-Fi monster movies was nicely done.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the issue with the not-so-retro price of $8.99 was the horrible printing. Whether by design or not, the levels and contrast of most of the photos was so dark that a lot of them were just too murky to see properly. Heck, I know I've got original issues of FM with better repro quality than that.
I do need to say that the cover image, a painting of the intergalactic cantina scene from STAR WARS by the talented Bill Selby, was superbly repro'd on nice, glossy stock.
That's about all the time I want to devote to -- what I am calling for now -- an anomaly from the folks at FM. I won't go so far as to say I was ripped off, but I do have to conclude that I was severly disappointed at this, by and large, lame effort. If there had been some spunk to the layouts even, I could have maybe mustered up an "okay". Ultimately, the magazine just doesn't seem to have any . . . enthusiasm to it. I look at the masthead and I see a litany of great talent. I think they should stick to producing the current incarnation of FAMOUS MONSTERS. Now, that's a a magazine that I give a howl about and believe, by the way, has fast-improved into one of the premiere monster 'zines on the rack.
Better luck next time, guys. There is better fare out there. Tomorrow, I'll share one with you.