Review: Xerox Ferox – The Wild World of the Horror Film Fanzine / Author: John Szpunar / Publisher: Headpress / Release Date: Out Now
Before the Internet, as hard as it is for some people to believe, people bought printed magazines. And before everyone and his dog had blogs, real film fanatics published fanzines – often typewritten and photocopied (hence the title here), and distributed through the post throughout the world to avid fans keen to learn about films they hadn't heard of.
In this new book from the wonderful people at Headpress, who know a thing or two about publishing fanzines themselves, some of the key names in the history of fan-publishing are interviewed, and shed light on the joys and pitfalls that come with such entry-level journalism.
This is a labour of love for Szpunar (former head of DVD label Barrel Entertainment), who picked up the project after having it shelved for several years. The sheer volume of people he has managed to interview (with the occasional help of Headpress' own David Kerekes), at all levels, is highly commendable. From influential, well-known, figures such as Tim Lucas (Video Watchdog), the late Chas Balun (Deep Red), Bob Martin (Fangoria), Jimmy McDonough (Sleazoid Express and biographies of Russ Meyer and Andy Milligan) to lesser known but equally important people such as Bhob Stewart (one time editor of Castle of Frankenstein), Steve Green (who wrote the Fanzine Focus section in The Dark Side, which is probably where most UK fans would hear of these magazines) and Donald Farmer (The Splatter Times). Each interviewee gives a frank and open insight into what inspired them and how their passion for films sometimes led to greater things. It is thanks to fanzines such as Samhain, Little Shoppe of Horrors and Shock Xpress that many readers were introduced to the likes of Jorg Buttgeriet, Coffin Joe and Jess Franco. As a resource of useless information, they were invaluable. As the interviews are all in separate chapters, dipping in and out of the book is easy. Although, no doubt readers will find themselves delving deeper as they go, as it is so engrossing.
The brick-sized book, which runs to some 800 pages, is illustrated throughout with suitably photocopy-style photos, and the advertisement reproductions are, like the text, brilliantly fascinating.
With many of these old, hand-produced mags, highly collectable now, and with the resurgence of such titles as We Belong Dead, Xerox Ferox is a timely release. A chance for older fans to reminisce – or even go up to the loft to rediscover some of the actual copies – or younger readers who have never known a time without information at the touch of a button, to read about how the old-timers had to do things. Very highly recommended.