DIY. Three delicious letters that hold more power than entire scripts consisting of the rest of the alphabet. The ethos of do-it-yourself is one that has spearheaded everything from political revolutions to cultural movements. The former in the past could inspire things like rioting and decapitation. The latter could be slightly more gentle, with one of its many forms resulting in the zine movement. This inspired an assortment of writers and simply enthusiastic fans creating their own magazines. This shined brighter in fewer fields than film, with horror and cult movies becoming a huge part of the DIY periodical zenith. At last, a tome dedicated to this rich, fun and occasionally troubled field has come out, all thanks John Szpunar's meticulously put together XEROX FEROX: THE WILD WORLD OF THE HORROR FILM FANZINE.
XEROX FEROX begins from, where else, the beginning, with its chapter/interview formatting starting with such genre film writing legends as Steve Bissette, Bhob Stewart, Gary Svehla, Tim Lucas and Chas Balun, as well as the young Turks that came along a little later, like Bill Landis, Keith Crocker, Greg Goodsell, Mike McPadden, Shane Dallmann, Tim Paxton and Andy Copp. And they are just the tip of the iceberg! In fact, each individual profiled in this book ranges in personality, approach and aesthetics. From old school Universal Monsters moon-eyed love to a celebration of all things grue-filled and naked nubile flesh, all of them are unified by one very important thing. The sheer drive and need that only the purest of passion and enthusiasm can breed. It's like obscenity. Hard to define but you'll know it when you see it.
Matching the subjects enthusiasm is the sheer amount of research and care that both Szpunar and the book's publisher, headpress, put into this work. It is an instant historically important tome and a needed read for both genre film fans and nonfiction writers, young and seasoned alike. These are stories that were needing to be documented and bless all involved for doing just that. Hopefully, it will be a touchstone for other like-minded compendiums to bear fruit. Imagine XEROX FEROX-quality books covering the music zines, the poetry zines, the DIY comics, etc etc. All of this is art that is not really that old but yet is in continual danger of being lost due to its fringe, low-budget origins.
The only real negative with this book is how little women are featured. No singular woman is mentioned. It would have been nice to see someone like Maitland McDonagh get mentioned, since she's a great writer who has been in this field since the 1980's. Michelle Clifford does at least get mentioned in conjunction with Bill Landis, since she worked with him on the latter stages of Sleazoid Express, as well as being the main figure behind Metasex. This isn't necessarily Spuznar's fault, but is more of a symptom of a bigger problem that is the boy's club of genre film writing where women have been relegated more to the sidelines, only to be dusted off for the occasional female-centric bone thrown their way. It can be a well meaning thing, but the best surefire route to equality is just to treat a female writer like you would a male writer. But all that aside, this is a fine book that will inform and inspire those of any category. Long live the DIY press!
© 2014 Heather Drain