‘Zine Review: Rue Morgue #91

'Zine Review: Rue Morgue #91 (click for larger image)Issue #91
July 2009

It’s only fitting that the sole Canadian amongst the rest of these DC yankie yahoos would eventually wind up writing the monthly recap of Rue-Morgue magazine. It’s especially apropos, given my primary contribution to Dread Central, that the first issue I’m reviewing happens to contain not only an overview of the upcoming Fantasia film festival, but also a seriously kick ass article from Fantasia’s resident renegade programmer, Mitch Davis.

But before that, let’s start off with Jovanka’s editorial. The July issue cover story is a 10 year retrospective of The Blair Witch Project. As is her habit, Jovanka is honest in her assessment of Blair Witch; she didn’t really like it when she first saw it. I can’t say I disagree. I missed the internet marketing blitz by being out of the country, and without it, the film really fell flat. However, like Jovanka, I found that the film improved by its transition to DVD. In the end, the most interesting thing about this “Notes from Underground” is that it might be the first one I can remember where it’s clear that Jovanka isn’t passionate about her subject matter. One gets the impression that this issue is really managing editor Dave Alexander’s baby, which is a cool little departure, as it gives the issue a different feeling overall.

Up next is a two page overview of Montreal’s Fantasia film festival. This is Fantasia’s thirteenth year, which, according to Mitch Davis, is actually a lucky number for the festival, with programming overflowing to the point that they had to add extra days. Davis discusses dealing with competition from the Venice Film Festival, which often results in films that are later rejected at Venice not being shown anywhere. Any filmmaker that has screened at Fantasia would know better; the vehemently appreciative fans at Fantasia can create a word of mouth buzz stronger than any commercial showing at Venice is likely to achieve. There’s a pretty great lineup this year, which we’ll be covering extensively in our regular blog coverage, but to set it up, the festival kicks off with Takashi Miike’s Yatterman, the Clive Barker double feature Book of Blood and Dread, and Davis’ favorite of the festival Must Love Death. Also screening is Norwegian zombie movie Dead Snow (chronicled in last month’s Rue-Morgue), Sion Sono’s 4 hour opus, Love Exposure, and managing editor Dave Alexander’s short film world premiere Fallow. Finally, Buddy Giovinazzo will be screening his personal print of Combat Shock, and his new film Life is Hot in Cracktown.

Davis is not only interviewed in this issue, but he also pens the article “Portrait of an American Nightmare” in which he interviews Giovinazzo about making Combat Shock, and the upcoming Troma release of the expanded cut, with the original restored title American Nightmares. I have to admit, somewhat abashedly, that I’ve never seen Combat Shock. I’ll be remedying this sorry situation in fine style, since the first time I’m going to see it will be in a huge screening room, with 700 other fans, watching the director’s personal print. If the film is all it’s cracked up to be, Fantasia fans, myself included, will be in for a sleazy treat.

Moving on, The Blair Witch Project cover story proves an interesting article about a movie that is probably more renowned in mainstream circles these days, than by horror fans. The article does a good job of reminding us that there might not be a Cloverfield, Quarantine, or Diary of the Dead, without Blair Witch, and it also doesn’t shy away from reminding the filmmakers, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez that there likely wouldn’t have been a Blair Witch Project without Cannibal Holocaust. Interestingly, the directors proclaim that they had not seen Cannibal Holocaust prior to making their film, and wonder if they would have made Blair Witch at all had they known the similarities.

Somewhat depressingly the article goes on to discuss what various members of the Blair Witch crew are up to these days, and despite having been part of the most successful indie movie of all time, neither the actors or directors seem to be able to capitalize on it. Michael C. Williams, the “standing in the corner at the end of the film” guy is working as a furniture mover, and Sanchez and Myrick’s latest movies are Blair Witch rip offs, set in China and Afghanistan respectively.

Other articles in this issue include:

  • A great write-up about the Halloween inspired art book October Shadows (the Rick Baker digital painting You found me” is worth the price of admission alone)
  • A somewhat forced article about modern death masks (which unsurprisingly don’t seem to be catching on);
  • A lovingly crafted full page review of the upcoming Criterion reissue of Polanski’s Repulsion
  • A Bowen’s Basement that actually had me giggling out loud. That guy might actually be starting to work on me.
  • A review of yet another zombie survival guide, titled The Zombie Handbook. This one does seem to distinguish itself from the others due to some cool looking Return of the Living Dead style artwork though.
  • The July issue ends, in fine fashion with a “Classic Cut” from Bowen, who impresses yet again by reminding readers of the influence Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs has had on traditional horror films. He makes the argument that The Exorcist, despite being more revered by horror fans, is actually an inferior film to Straw Dogs due to its more clear cut morality. He goes on to ask why it is that Peckinpah’s own The Wild Bunch, a more graphically violent film, was (and likely remains) the less controversial of the two movies. It’s articles like this that highlight that the grey-zone of sexuality continues to be less explored than hardcore violence that make me proud that such an incredibly amazing horror ‘rag such as this comes from Canada.

    Hit the official Rue Morgue site for more info and to get yourself a subscription!

    Until next month …

    Evil Andy

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    • Mr. Gray

      I’ll second that. Rue Morgue is my favorite horror mag, and it’s great to see this review.

    • Rottenjesus

      I’m also a Canadian horror hoser (sorry) and I have to say that RM is the best horror magazine out there right now. They cover so many different facets of horror each month it’s crazy. Great articles, great writing and always a good time when it comes in the mail.

      Awesome review Andy!