‘Exquisite Terror’ – Issue #5 reviewed

❉ Horror magazines don’t come more detailed and diverse than ‘Exquisite Terror’!

Popular horror site Exquisite Terror produces a fanzine which takes a more detailed look at horror; with contributors from both sides of the Atlantic the magazine’s contents tend to be extremely varied, and the fact that this is pitched at horror fans with an interest in reading around the subject means that this can delve deeper than the average article; this is more the Sight and Sound of horror fanzines than the Empire.  With issue 5 just out we take a look at what it has to offer…

An extremely detailed and pleasingly thorough look at Sex and Death in the Films of Dario Argento is the issue’s main feature.  It’s a strong piece and although the subject itself could easily run to a full-length book, this acts mainly as a primer, offering a number of different readings and opinions on the Italian Giallo-meister’s work.  The striking cover art is also inspired by the article.

Psychogeography is applied to Michael Reeves as the writer visits the homes the director of Witchfinder General lived in.  It’s a short piece, but does offer some insight into the mind of Reeves prior to his untimely death.

Another short piece is Once Bitten, a queer reading of werewolf films.  If the article has a flaw it’s that it’s too short: only two films are detailed, but the subject itself novel enough that it could have sustained a far longer piece.  What we have is good, but I’d have been interested to read far more, particularly as the two films cited (2012’s American film Jack and Diane and obscure German film Der Samuai) aren’t ones with which I’m familiar.

A lengthy interview with Robert Martin, editor of Fangoria during its golden period gives some good insight into the magazine of that time.

Anyone who’s seen Room 237 will be aware of Bill Blakemore’s theories behind Kubrick’s The Shining (and as the theories offered in Room 237 go, Blakemore’s is one of the more credible readings of the film) and God Bless America is a strong piece which elaborates on the theory and looks for evidence in the film.

The Script Behind The Classic is another article that deserves to be longer: this look at The Omen is interesting enough to sustain a longer piece – the film itself is frequently overlooked in favour of The Exorcist, although I’d argue is just as influential.

A study of Hannibal Lecter which tries to see exactly which laws he could have been tried under can be found in Impenetrable Insanity, a look at the Doctor’s mental health.  Is Lecter mad, in the legal sense, or not?  For fans of the character it’s a good piece of writing and one of the highlights of the issue.

Another interview, this time with Ramsey Campbell, rounds off this instalment of Exquisite Terror.  Campbell (widely regarded as the greatest British horror author) makes for good reading, although he himself isn’t the subject being discussed; it’s writer Robert Aickman.  I’m more familiar with Campbell’s work than I am with Aickman’s, so much of what was discussed was new to me, and no less interesting for it.  I came away from the interview with mental notes of some novels to track down.

Issue Five of Exquisite Terror is well worth a read.  There’s a very wide range of subjects being offered, and the writing is pleasingly thorough.  If I’ve given the impression that I thought a couple of the articles suffered from being too short it’s only because I found them intriguing enough that I’d have liked to have read more, so I’ll certainly be keeping an out for issue six.

❉ You can visit Exquisite Terror here: http://www.exquisiteterror.com/ where you can also buy copies of the magazine.

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