Monday, January 11, 2010

The Scream Factory

Edited by Bob Morrish, Peter Enfantino, and John Scoleri, The Scream Factory, a magazine dedicated to old and new horror in fiction, radio, film, and TV, was a mainstay of late 80's/early 90's genre publishing. It was produced by Deadline Press (AZ), but submitters of material were encouraged to forward all correspondence to a California address.

Although there is currently a publisher of comics with the same name, I'm not sure if the two are related.

I was always impressed with the depth of material, and admired the publication's efforts to cover horror from many angles. The mag could be seen as a precursor to Canada's Rue Morgue, a mag that also makes every effort to illuminate the darkest vestibules of the field in all media.

Issue #15 was a Werewolf special, so would not have been out of place today with a Wolfman remake imminent (from Universal) and other lycanthrope-themed projects in holding patterns.

Great to see some focus on Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's The Godforsaken, a really terrific werewolf novel with a strong historical backbone. Yarbro has been a prolific writer of original fiction and a number of great novelizations including Nomads (based on John DIE HARD McTiernan's first film with Adam Ant!) and Dead and Buried.

Anthologist, editor, and scholar Peter Haining, who has recently been the subject of immense interest in Justin Marriott's indispensable Paperback Fanatic, a mag you should not be without, was the subject of an exhaustive article in this issue. He has been responsible for close to a hundred horror and mystery anthologies, and has penned so much non-fiction, it's difficult to catalog it all; thankfully, ace writer Mike Ashley gave it his best shot in this fascinating, lengthy piece.

Most horror/fantasy mags focusing chiefly on horror in literature ignore film at their peril; The Scream Factory avoided peril by hiring Lawrence McCallum to write some capsule reviews. Island of Lost Souls earns well-deserved praise, as does The Bride of Frankenstein and the brilliant The Invisible Man.

Encouraging to see Richard Thorpe's Night Must Fall being awarded three stars, too; easily Robert Montgomery's most memorable, chilling performance.

The small press was incredibly important to the genre when The Scream Factory was a going concern in '94, and they acknowledged that importance with a regular column. Now, the small press is absolutely essential, probably even more crucial to the development of writers than ever with mainstream publishers cutting back on their lists and bookshops being ever so picky about what they stock.

Husband/Wife authors Steve Rasnic and Melanie Tem were interviewed in this issue and contributed 'More Than Should Be Asked', an original piece.

I read Steve's Excavation (Avon; '87) many moons ago and enjoyed it thoroughly. His specialty has always been thew short story.

Melanie's Revenant (Dell/Abyss; '94) is a brilliant novel about losing the ones we love, dealing with the loss, and reconciling the possibility of future losses. A re-release would be welcome. Perhaps coincidentally, the French film, The Revenants ('04), also addressed the complexity of the loss and dealing with the return of those we are grieving.

The author's Prodigal (Dell/Abyss; '91) is a killer read, too.
RIP , The Scream Factory, you are missed.

7 comments:

  1. Pretty cool cover art!
    Do you remember Creepy and Eerie? They have been republished.

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  2. Missesgrim -- yes, I have these, and they're very good. Love the covers most.

    Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. Thanks for the nice write-up. We had a good run with TSF. While it was a lot of work putting it together, we had a lot of fun, and getting feedback like yours always made it worth it.

    We've kicked around the idea of reassembling the team to do a big, hardcover 'best of' with some new and updated material, and while we're willing to do the legwork, it doesn't align with my current publishing plans, so it would need to find a home somewhere. I learned long ago to never say never...

    For the record, the comic guys (as well as some places that put on haunted house attractions around Halloween) appropriated the name, but it's not like we had any future plans to use it, so it wasn't worth going after them.

    Anyway, thanks again for the trip down memory lane.

    John Scoleri
    former editor/publisher, The Scream Factory

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  4. The Slaughtered Lamb -- I don't know how it happens so quickly, but I write a piece about 'The Scream Factory' and one day later its original editor shoots me a kind message (above). In a world of a million blogs, how did he know that I'd written about his mag? I'm fascinated by this process.

    Anyway, thank you, John, for your message and for clarifying a couple of things. A "best of" at some stage would be terrific; a I hope a home is found for it.

    I used to regularly buy your mag, "Twilight Zone", and "The Horror Show", and lament their passing.

    All the best with your future projects.

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  5. I've never heard of this magazine!!! I thought I'd heard of 'em all!
    Looks like I missed out on a good one.

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  6. Very nice review, thank you. We had a hell of a lot of fun doing this zine (and the follow-up, the short-lived Bare Bones) but the distributors killed us. These Scream Factory posers really pissed me off but as John says, "What can you do?" A nice acknowledgment in one of their gaudy comic books would be a start. Bitter? Me?

    The "Best of" book that John quickly touched on has actually been in the pipeline for about ten years. About every three years or so, the publisher brings up the subject, we get excited, make lots of notes, and then don't hear from him again for...oh, about three years. But, as John said, I get more kicks out of people telling me how much they enjoyed TSF while it was alive.

    Peter Enfantino
    editor/publisher THE SCREAM FACTORY

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  7. Cyberschizoid -- you did miss a good one. Wish I had 'em all.

    ***

    Peter -- thank you so much for the message, Yes, an acknowledgment would have been nice, but nice is out of vogue right now.

    A "Best Of" would be fantastic. You covered so many interesting subjects; seems shameful that they aren't more accessible.

    Distribution (and greed) is killing everything decent. If it's not super-mainstream, it is forced into its grave. Sad.

    Wonderful to hear from you, Peter.

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