Hurry While Shocks Last

I’m in Fangoria!
Daniel Riccuito, Jennifer Matsui and I have authored a Barbara Steele encomium/mash note, featuring original interviews with the First Lady of Fright herself. My clunky memory tells me I only contributed plot synopses (which are fun to do for eccentric Italian horror movies, and not so much for anything else) but looking through the piece I spotted this bit ~

While Italian movies robbed Steele of her voice, they liberated her from what it had meant in Britain. Leading ladies in Brit films tended to be well brought-up young things, unless they were lusty and working-class like Diana Dors. Even at Hammer, where sexuality was unleashed regularly via bouts of vampirism, the erotically active roles usually went to continental lovelies (Polish immigrant Ingrid Pitt got her work permit based on Hammer’s claim that no native-born actress could exude such desire and desirability). Steele turns up all-too briefly in Basil Dearden’s Sapphire (1959) as an art school girl, the only kind of role that might allow for both intelligence and a certain liberated attitude. And Steele really was exactly that type. Her appearance is so arresting, you want the movie to simply abandon its plot and follow her into some fresh storyline: it wouldn’t really matter what.

Yeah, that’s one of mine!

Thanks and congratulations to my collaborators and the good folks at the mag and Ms. Steele herself. (Just typing “Ms. Steele” provokes a masochistic frisson Try it!)

18 Responses to “Hurry While Shocks Last”

  1. Barbara Steele is even MORE of an Axiom of the cinema than Charlton Heston.

  2. John Seal Says:

    The Fangoria cover makes Ms. Steele (ooh) look a bit like Lady Penelope. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  3. It also makes her look kind of flat-chested, I’d say. Not that there’s anything wrong with THAT.

  4. Is this the wrong place to say that our essay was utterly mangled? Fangoria editors never bothered to contact me or any of the writers involved. I’m devastated. Spent a year on that piece. You ‘l be able to read the “authorized” version at The Chiseler soon.

  5. I was genuinely confused back when the Fangoria folks expressed interest since the tone of the essay — not to mention much of the *explicit* intention — runs against the grain. My goal, even before I started on the thing, was to argue for a new aesthetic (and to critique just the kind of hairy-backed, “I live in Mom’s basement” attitude Fangoria promotes). Well, now I know they always intended to use the essay against meaning. The edits are truly bizarre. Tinny, awkward, hyper, fake, ugly. I can’t read the words. It’s painful. Sent the chief editor a note signed Daniel (I hate your insides) Riccuito. Too subtle?

  6. I will run a piece linking to the Chiseler version when it goes up. Still don’t have a copy in my hands to see the horror for myself, but I believes ya.

    Fangoria doesn’t pay, so this is a bridge I’m happy to burn — maybe a detailed review of some of the changes will be satisfying to write when the time comes.

  7. The chief editor asked: “Sorry — WHERE is that typo you mentioned in the first sentence?” I almost quoted Ned Sparks: “Stop scratching your head — you couldn’t reach your brain with a steam shovel.” Or, to quote Barbara: “They’re doomed to give head to menstruating women.”

  8. What IS the typo? Still don’t have a copy.

  9. Hey Daniel. Sorry the magazine didn’t suit your tastes and that our “hairy backed” readers are beneath you. Some minor changes had to be made to suit space and style. I don’t recall having an agreement with you to get your approval on the final edit. I checked our up to this point cheerful email interactions and couldn’t see anything indicating as such. But I could be wrong. Despite your unfortunate and truly unexpected attacks, I think it’s a fine issue and a fine salute to our mutual friend. Health and happiness to you and yours! C.

  10. Additionally…I just looked at your submitted copy and compared it to our final, printed edit. The only difference between your first line and ours is that you forgot to capitalize “Bible” and forgot to put a comma after “outside”. Which we corrected. We also removed first person. Now, considering the feature has three credited writers, using “me” and “I” just doesn’t make much sense…or am I mistaken? Best, C.

  11. Chris, I think Daniel’s argument would be that it is absolutely standard for editors to run any suggested changes past the original authors, and that in this case there was more than adequate time for this to be done. In all my work with editors, I’ve always been given the option to review changes, comment, and suggest adjustments. It’s a conventional courtesy, which means that to NOT do it is, whether the changes are minor or not, an exceptional DIScourtesy.

    I haven’t seen the magazine yet but I believe the first line is missing some quotation marks? Which would be an aid to comprehension at the very least.

  12. Hey Barbara:

    Fuck it. There are people in the world with real problems. I slept off the reflexive rage, had a nightmare or two — poof — woke up feeling spry. I can always preserve my original “authorized” version of the essay elsewhere, at The Chiseler for instance. (I kind of know the guy who runs it.) Putting Mr. Black Glove Killer behind me. Had myself a grim little laugh when he called me “childish,” I’ll admit. A dude with a handle like that posing as a poster boy for maturity… and an “editor” to boot. He indignantly asked: “Sorry… WHERE’S the typo in the first sentence?” Marone. Has he never seen quotation marks before? Criminally stupid. A head like a bucket of rusty nails on this guy. Well, again, getting my prose butchered by nescient hacks doesn’t exactly register on the human-misery scale (even if I did spend a year of my life honing it) . Fangoria can go on crouching hairy-backed in some moldy basement.

    Still, altering my work without so much as a heads up? All that “Wizard of Words” bullshit he handed me… I remember being mystified that a horror rag would want the essay, since it takes on your screen presence, the power of which threatens fanboys so much that they say “Scream Queen” to neutralize the source of that power.


    Hope your Rome/Paris trip was eventful,


    Hey, PS — you saw a draft, yes? Sure wish I had.

  13. And to bolster David’s point, you hack, editors — you know, real ones? — do not make unilateral changes. They inform the writer. The changes you introduced inverted my intentions. Congrats, you silly putz.

  14. Dear Fangoria:

    I don’t use words like “classic,” “Eurohorror,” “FX,” or… “pic.”

    I finally finished reading your senseless mutilation of my work and that of my co-writers. Yes, the news gets much (much!) worse than I initially feared. True, the opening paragraph nearly caused me to vomit. But now I see the full extent of the damage your “edit” has done. Our tribute to Barbara Steele reads like some bro-in-waiting decided to impress his friends — that is, just before roasting worms with a magnifying glass. Why should I be surprised?

    You have graph-paper for a soul.

    David Cairns’ best turns of phrase are now cliches.

    Jennifer Matsui’s genius has been slashed to ribbons.

    And my own goal — to undo some of the aggressive, hyper-masculine, consumerist thinking on Barbara Steele — has been thoroughly inverted. Well, one thing came of this experience. It gave me flashes of insight about the way women must feel. As it now stands, the essay (which I hereby disown) reflects male domination in ways that I can never erase from my memory.

    No wonder Fangoria’s Editor-in-Chief calls himself “Black Glove Killer.”


  15. David: The passage you posted above… has been edited without your consent.

  16. This is gross editorial misconduct.

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