Gorgon Video Magazine – The 1980s Horror Mag On VHS

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Wes Craven, linnea Quigley, Gwar and Troma turn up in this failed attempt at recreating Fangoria as a VHS tape.

Back in the days of the VHS boom, indie labels tried all sorts of ways to pull in the customers beyond merely releasing films. The ‘video magazine’ was a popular concept (with labels, though not necessarily the public) – the most successful, for obvious reasons, were the adult titles like Electric Blue, where a series of softcore clips, humour and ‘men’s interest’ items proved rather popular, mainly because there was no chance of anything similar turning up on TV. Less successful were the general interest titles, which came across as amateur hour versions of TV magazine shows, often with clunky production values and a random selection of contents.

MPI offshoot Gorgon Video, who remain best known as the US distributors of Faces of Death, were keen to establish themselves as horror heavyweights in the 1980s, and their relentless self-publicising in the genre press certainly gained them a few fans. In 1989, they launched the Gorgon Video Magazine with much aplomb – the first edition was hosted by Michael Berryman (why a magazine needs a host is anyone’s guess, but there it is) and included interviews with Wes Craven (hailed as “the crown prince of horror”, though the fact that we was making Shocker at the time rather nails the lie of that statement), scream queen Linnea Quigley, Troma head Lloyd Kaufman and FX chaps KNB. There’s a piece on Gwar, various movie trailers and Gore Gazette‘s Rick Sullivan pops up to review new releases.

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As a museum piece, it’s not awful, but the content is very much of its time (and yes, I’m aware that most of the above-mentioned are still working) and Berryman is pretty embarrassing. It seems to be trying a bit too hard but doesn’t really offer much insight – a criticism that could be made of many a genre documentary, of course.

While Gorgon Video Magazine was heavily promoted, it didn’t sell well – this was before sell-thru video was really a thing and although priced keenly at $19.95, it struggled to find sales outlets and was mainly restricted to mail order sales. A second edition was produced, but never ultinmately released, though some promo copies were sent out before it was cancelled. The accompanying Impact Video Magazine, hosted by Alex Winters and featuring bands, comedy and weird art pieces, seemed to have more commercial potential, but that tanked too.

Gorgon Video have come and gone themselves over the years, but there’s no sign of a third volume of the Gorgon Video Magazine – which you’d think might be a shoe-in for broadcasters like Shudder. Here – until they are removed – are both existing volumes for your viewing pleasure.