Last week I did some wife-mandated cleaning in the garage. I have a storage box in there sitting against a far wall hidden by, er, other boxes and piles of miscellania (it’s a wonder we manage to park a car in that garage). I suppose the box should have, you know, garagey things in it like tools or paint tins or something, but instead its got books, magazines, tapes, cds… stuff that Claire has cleared away and put in there. Basically anything I’ve been looking for unsuccessfully for the past few years, it’s all in there. Opening it was like opening the Arc of the Covenant and screaming “its beautiful!”
Cue my face melting like a Nazi caught out by his blind confidence. Well, in a way, anyway- some of the stuff in there certainly messed me up, books for instance, that I cannot ever remember buying, let alone reading, and old xbox games that likewise I cannot remember owning or ever playing, at all. Its like I’ve found stuff that belonged to someone else. Its a little disconcerting, but this post isn’t about my frazzled marbles or ensuing memory loss, but I think that might be a later post regards some Blade Runner-linked examination about what is memory and what is real.
So instead, here’s a post about some of the magazines that were stored in there, particularly a few copies of Fantastic Films, a magazine that I’ve written about before but which I absolutely adored back in the day. A sort of poor-man’s Cinefantastique, the mag was at times beautifully designed for its day and at least turned up in my local newsagents (Cinefantastique was the best, but reserved for speciality comics stores and naturally cost more).
Looking through these mags was a strange experience, having not seen them in years but instantly familiar, having read and re-read them so many times over the years. Sure they look a bit beat-up and smell a little like old second-hand bookstores do. Back before the Internet, kiddies, this is what us geeks used to do- go to stores, buy magazines, read them, then re-read them, and maybe re-read them some more. We’ve gotten so used to instant news now it’s a little odd to realise this used to be how we found out about new movies, reading these monthly magazines, and probably it was all old news long before we ever got to read them. I used to read magazines like this, finding details about films sometimes months after their release in America but that didn’t really matter,as the world was slower back then, and often it would be before or even concurrent to the film’s release over here (Blade Runner didn’t turn up here until September, and E.T. didn’t get released until Christmas 1982 long after most had seen it on pirate VHS copies).
Naturally its those issues that concerned a little obscure film titled Blade Runner that are the most dog-eared and re-read copies. The issue with Elliot and E.T. on the cover is the one I used to pore over for years, because it had an analysis of Blade Runner by Sara Campbell that I used to read so many times, like it was some kind of Holy scripture. You have to bear in mind that Blade Runner was for many years simply forgotten, a box-office failure that most people had written off. Sara’s inciteful essay was a respectful and fascinating insight by someone who loved the film as much as I did. Sara would go on to found Cityspeak, a Blade Runner fanzine I wouldn’t learn of until years later, and unfortunately passed away not long after, but as a post on my old blog years ago (that I will have to repost here sometime) will attest, I’ll always fondly remember Sara for this review and consider the sadness that she never saw the ‘proper’ Blade Runner that would have blown her away. Life is so unkind.
I must also mention a letter in the ‘Reactions’ section of the mag. By the time the issue went to press Blade Runner had already bombed Stateside and this particular letter reflected on that and praised the film. Titled ‘Blade Runner deserved better‘, I have to admit I read and re-read the letter so many times over the years. It was written by Irene Tumanov of Paylin, New Jersey, and bless you Irene wherever you are today (I hope you still love Blade Runner). Irene’s letter- well, maybe someday I’ll type out her letter here in its entirety. But here’s a taster:
“It is only too tragic that the year 2019 is indeed in the midst of us now. We must indeed be dehumanized if we should turn our noses away from such a beautiful film! Not only do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep they also dream of the immortality of such great cinema. I believe it a terrible waste that Blade Runner should be put out to pasture!”
Irene I hope you enjoyed the resurgence of Blade Runner and its rise to success, and the Directors Cut and later the Final Cut, and its eventual sequel. All surely impossible to have imagined back in 1982.
But what a summer that was, what a year for genre releases. I took a picture of the contents age of that issue of Fantastic Films, to just demonstrate what an extraordinary time that was. We may have seen better films since, but I don’t think we saw such a group of diverse and interesting genre films like that ever again- when they all come out over that summer in America, it must have been pretty exciting. This edition of Fantastic Films featured articles on E.T., The Dark Crystal, Blade Runner, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, Tron, The Thing, Poltergeist, Firefox, The Secret of Nimh, Creepshow… I’ve always considered that year to be the true reaction to the original Star Wars. Its a little sad that in all the years since, we didn’t really see another year quite like that- back then I thought every year was going to be like that. What a damned fool I was…