Like many genre fans, Fangoria is how I learned about the existence of several horror movies beyond the handful I had managed to see on TV or rented from the local video store. If the films were unavailable through those means, reading their Fango articles and staring at the accompanying photos was the next best thing, and helped make a checklist of movies to track down once I got older (or a better video store). To this day, there are a handful of films I almost feel like I've seen because I read and re-read their accompanying articles in my impressionable youth, but have never managed to actually sit down and watch.
But what if the Fangoria issue itself was nearly impossible to obtain? Such is the case with issue #9, which featured Motel Hell on its cover. As any die-hard fan of the mag knows, the earlier issues had more sci-fi driven covers - R2D2 and C3P0 were the stars of issue #6, for example - and they weren't exactly flying off the shelves. But when they switched to more horrific fare like The Shining, sales took off, and naturally got more attention from mothers and teachers (well-meaning ones, of course!) who weren't thrilled about the R-rated fare being featured instead of lovable Star Wars droids that had drawn their children's eyes the month before. The shit really hit the fan with #9, pictured below, which got them so angry that this particular release was essentially banned from many stores and given an adult magazine-like cover to hide the pig-masked villain wielding a chainsaw from all those innocent tykes.
The irony is, those who have seen it know that the cover was committing a far graver sin than warping a few kids' minds - it was spoiling part of the ending! For years I thought the movie was basically a Texas Chainsaw kind of thing with a pig-masked guy in place of Leatherface, but while Tobe Hooper's influence is apparent on the script, this particular killer doesn't actually appear until the final few minutes of the movie. In fact, it plays up the dark comedy even more than TCM (or Psycho, another movie that might have inspired this one), and doesn't have a lot of on-screen violence, which makes sense when you consider the film's "Secret Garden" plot.
What "secret garden" you might ask? Well if you live in LA, come find out! I'll be hosting a 40th-anniversary screening of the film on Tuesday, January 28th as part of Screamfest's "Fears and Beers" revival screening series, and have a pair of tickets to give away! I'm making this one easy - just email [email protected] and tell me your favorite "people on vacation run afoul of creepy backwoods type" movie, and include your full name so that the winner's name (+1) can be added to the list! Obviously you need to be in Los Angeles (or vicinity) to win, so if you just want to talk about such fare feel free to post comments below instead of cluttering the email inbox with ineligible entries.
The screening will be at 7:30pm at the TCL Chinese 6 in Hollywood, and there will be a post-film Q&A with director Kevin Connor and stars Paul Linke and Nina Axelrod, as well as photo ops and trivia. And if you don't want to pin your hopes of attending on winning a contest, feel free to head here and buy a ticket - they're only 16 bucks and - if you're 21 or older - you get a complimentary beer with it! See you there! I may or may not have a pig mask on.