Wednesday, September 19, 2012

FREAKY MONSTERS NO. 10



There has been mention of several monster mags currently being published that -- either in spirit or in appearance, or both -- resemble the original FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. My vote goes to Ray Ferry's latest 'zine incarnation, FREAKY MONSTERS.

From the derivative logo, to the Gogos-ian high contrast cover paintings, to the Table of Contents format, to the interior titles, to the Captain Company-ish mail order pages in the back of the magazine (even going so far as offering some items that were sold by the original Capt. Co), and the familiar, mind-numbing editorial alliterations, FREAKY MONSTERS has got FAMOUS MONSTERS down. Ferry oughta know -- he owned FAMOUS MONSTERS for a time. However, the big question here is: is FRM (the "FM" acronym shall remain here the inviolate provenance of the original FAMOUS MONSTERS for as long as I run this blog) the Vanilla Ice version or a serious legacy?

It took a few years, but FREAKY MONSTERS is the result of Ferry's continuing drive to publish or perish, despite all odds and legal roadblocks (which I will not rehash).

After the "Poison-to-Poison" editorial and the letters page, the issue kicks off with "Aunt Eeek's Road Show", a collection of photographs with humorous captions that spoof the popular PBS TV series.

Next comes a lengthy bio and career overview of Ed Wood, Jr. Written and submitted when the Burton/Depp ED WOOD film was running, it has not been published until now. Penned by Kathryn Magayne-Roshak, it is actually quite poignant, as much of the material was obtained through the cooperation of Wood's family members. Ferry makes a keen observation at the beginning of the article by stating, "For all the great films that made up Columbia Pictures [sic] SHOCK and SON OF SHOCK TV films packages*, for all the frightful fun we had as kids watching them on frightday night Shock Theater shows across the country, it's images from Ed Wood films -- Vampira and Tor Johnson in the spooky graveyard from PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, in particular -- that define the Shock Theater craze in all its glory." Numerous photographs accompany the article, and some appear to be quite rare. The subject is completed with a two-page centerspread of Maila Nurmi as Vampira in a typical menacing pose.

Included in the issue is a brief "filmbook" of that crazy B-movie classic, THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE, a "Ghoul's Gallery" of stills in the tradition of "You Axed For It", a Jonathan Frid obit, and another interesting pictorial showing horror actors playing in non-horror film rolls titled, "Monsters Unmasked.""Off On a Scare" is a short piece that covers "horrorwood's" greatest comedy teams. Closing out the contents is the "Myst-eerie Photo Department", albeit without reader's winning responses.

Much like its progenitor, FREAKY MONSTERS is, for the most part, short on text and big on photos. What makes things work, though, is that the photos, while not as razor-sharp as we see even in some semi-pro monster 'zines, are of good contrast and quality, and many seem to be unearthed rarities.

I have not seen this magazine for sale on any newsstands or bookstores in my part of the world, so I'm presuming that most sales are from specialty shops and Diamond Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS comics catalogue.

There are enough artifacts throughout the issue to remind the alert reader that this was, at one time, the monster magazine. But, time and tide and litiginous rancor have removed some of the bloom off the old graveyard rose. This should, however,  be no reason for anyone wishing to sample a taste of what was during the monster magazine glory days not to pick up a copy of this magazine.

There's one catch to all this. Issue #11 of FREAKY MONSTERS was scheduled to be published in June. Well, if you do the math, it's three months later and still no 'zine. After a surprisingly regular printing schedule, FRM seems to have run out of gas. Let's hope that there's a reason other than cancellation in the future for this fun monster mag.

*NOTE: The SHOCK and SON OF SHOCK TV film packages were offered by Sreen Gems, but the advertising iconography of the era, especially with Vampira hosting her own TV show, were trademark Ed Wood. - Yore Fiendly Monsterologist

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