Thanks to the easy flow of information over the Internet, the fanzine is becoming something of a dinosaur, but for many of us, zines were an early and much-loved gateway to information and subcultures we would not have otherwise been exposed to.
For those of you reading who are still in your younger years, the fanzine revolves around a very simple idea: Find something you are obsessed with, write a bunch of stuff about it, cut and paste your fingers to the bone, photocopy, staple, distribute the booklet with your own hard-earned funds, and hope that other folks out there who are just as obsessed as you are find it and love it too.
The horror zine is unique in the fact that many early DIY titles grew into larger publications, including Cinefantastique. Today’s genre zines are less-frequently produced and tough to find, but there are many intrepid zine makers that persevere and continue to publish out of their homes. The authors behind the cut-and-pasted pages are still putting a ton of love and care into each print.
One of those authors is Samm Deighan, who writes for Paracinema and Diabolique and was a contributing writer to Fangoria. Deighan created three horror guides: Guide to Satanic Horror Cinema: 69 Films for the Devil, Un Guide Pour le Cinema de Jean Rollin, and The Strange Vice of Sergio Martino. Each primer is hand-crafted – yep, she photocopies and pastes - and offers the reader a one-page look at the each film. Satanic Horror is exhaustive, Rollin offers A LOT of topless ladies, and Martino covers his 40 plus year career. Deighan’s style offers a nice mix of personal perspective - if the film's a crapfest she won’t mince words - with nut-and-bolts plot and cast details.
I spoke to Deighan about her guides and challenges of creating and disseminating the printed page in a post-paper, blogging world.
Can you give a brief overview of your three horror primers?
The satanic horror zine was my first effort at zine making in over 10 years, so it’s kind of all over the place. I chose between 70 and 80 satanic horror films and loosely organized them. The Jean Rollin and Sergio Martino zines both cover all the films directed by those fine gentlemen.
“Satanic Horror” is a huge genre, and it’s my favorite of your zines. How did you go about deciding what was in, what was out? Do you constantly want to update it?
I’ve already gotten requests to do a sequel, so I’m definitely thinking about it. I basically made a list of my favorite satanic horror films and did research to fill in the rest. I tried to include as much as I could. Turns out creating an 80+ page zine is really time consuming to photocopy and staple though.
Do you have a very top Satanic panic movie?
Undoubtedly Ken Russell’s masterpiece, The Devils.
The Devils may be the best use of a sexy nun in all celluloid history. Agree or disagree?
Actually I think The Devils is not remotely about sexy nuns. It’s about hysteria, trauma, sickness, repression, and financially motivated manipulation. Though Oliver Reed is lovely to look upon, not a lot about The Devils is sexy. The sexiest nun movie of all time is definitely Walerian Borowczyk’s Behind Convent Walls, which is sadly neglected and frequently banned because of its subject matter.
For those readers unfamiliar with Sergio Martino and Jean Rollin, can you sum up each director in two sentences?
Sergio Martino created some of the most creative(ly titled) Italian giallo films of the ‘70s and some of the most fun Italian exploitation films of the late ‘70s and ‘80s. Jean Rollin, who recently passed away, has created some of the most poetic, bizarre and nonsensical horror films of France or probably any other country. He specializes in nudie vampire movies.
Martino and Jean Rollin feature super-sexually explicit and, at times, very complicated depictions of women. Obviously, their styles don't deter you and you're a huge fan, but many people may find their films problematic. Not to get too theory-heavy, but how do you navigate and acknowledge that when writing your reviews for a broader audience?
This is sort of a sore subject for me. Because I have a gender-neutral name and write about horror/erotica people often assume I am a man and they sometimes assume I am misogynistic because of my interests. I am female, but as a writer and critic, I am less interested in female-specific experiences and more interested in explorations of sexuality and fantasy, particularly how these relate to horror/repression regardless of gender, race, class, age, etc. So Rollin and Martino are not at all problematic for me. Compared to the spectrum of horror filmmakers, I think they are actually two of the least offensive.
Both Martino and Rollin are a bit unusual, and perhaps intimidating, for the uninitiated. What is the one movie from each director would you suggest the new viewer watch first?
Martino newbies should definitely start with The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh aka Blade of the Ripper, 1971). As for Rollin, it’s a bit more difficult, because he’s known for his erotic vampire films, but actually has quite a range. Maybe Lips of Blood (Lèvres de sang, 1975) if I had to pick just one. Be warned that Rollin is an acquired taste.
Is there anyone comparable to these two directors making films now?
As far as I know, absolutely not. Though the French-Belgium film Amer (2009), directed by Hèléne Cattet and Bruno Forzani, is probably what would happen if Martino and Rollin made a cinematic baby. Even though I felt the film was deeply flawed, it is a more interesting experiment than a lot of the redundant horror being made today.
You have your email address and website in the zine, in case anyone wants to send “death threats, naked pictures, or copies of Satanic films” you haven’t seen, what kind of response have your zines gotten in the horror community?
Sadly, no naked pictures. My blog is a lot more popular, but I’ve gotten some nice feedback and a lot more zines have sold than I ever could have guessed. I actually have to go restock the Martino issue tonight.
Where can people purchase them?
At my friend Kevin’s wonderful site, House of Mysterious Secrets. Every time I send someone there they wind up coming away with a lot more, generally some of his amazing custom designed horror t-shirts.
Possibly the toughest question for a horror fan to answer: What one movie, made in the past few years, should every genre fan see?
Anything by Park Chan Wook, even though he is not strictly horror. Honestly, I hate most recent genre movies. The things other people seem excited about I tend to find boring, predictable, unimaginative.
Read Deighan’s Satanic Pandemonium and buy her zines here.