Tony Timpone is a name familiar to most horror film fans--but not because he's a famous actor or a horror film director. It's because every month his name graces the pages of a magazine that happens to be THE horror magazine. In fact, he's the editor of FANGORIA magazine.
I knew Tony's name and work years before I ever met him in person. Eventually we met, at one of the annual New York City FANGORIA conventions where I was a guest on a panel of independent filmmakers (hosted by Managing Editor Mike Gingold). And one of the first impressions I got was that you could see how much this guy absolutely loved his job. He was clearly in his element-the world of horror.
I recently had the opportunity to ask Tony a few questions- and to give the name a bit more context…
Q: Well, tell us about yourself…
TONY: I was born on June 26, 1963, sharing the same birthday as both Peter Lorre and Dick Smith. So I suppose I was destined for some career in horror entertainment. I grew up in Queens, New York, weaned on comic books, FAMOUS MONSTERS and drive-in movies. Lucky for me, my parents never dragged me to Disney films as a kid. Instead, they took me to films like DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, CONQUEROR WORM, FROGS, FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED and even a few violent spaghetti Westerns. In high school I joined the Sci-Fi Club, where I became president and launched a club fanzine, FANTAZINE. For the first issue, I interviewed Tom Savini, the first genre celebrity I had ever written up. I originally tried to sell it to FAMOUS MONSTERS. They didn't buy it at the time, saying Savini had been overexposed in FANGORIA!
Q: FANGORIA is THE horror magazine. How did you become editor?
TONY: Well, in my last year or two of college at New York University, I had begun freelancing to various genre publications, including STARLOG, SF MOVIELAND and MONSTERLAND. I would meet horror and sci-fi people at Creation conventions in New York, interview them, and then sell the articles. While in my last days at NYU, I told STARLOG editor Dave McDonnell that I would be graduating soon and to keep me in mind for a full-time position.
A few weeks out of school, I got a call at my dad's deli, where I worked. It was Dave, calling me in for an interview. So I got the job. That was July 1985. At first I was going to be an assistant editor to the whole lineup of Starlog Group publications: wrestling mags, teen stuff, as well as STARLOG. But as luck would have it, FANGORIA's co-editor, Bob Martin, had quit a few days before I started. There was a spare desk in the office of now-solo Fango editor Dave Everitt, who was editing and writing most of the magazine himself. He needed someone fast, so I immediately became his Assistant Editor, then Associate Editor. Next, Everitt left the company a month later. I was too green to take over the mag myself (I was only 22), so STARLOG editor Dave McDonnell took over as interim editor for a year until I could get my wings. I became Editor in Chief with Fango #63. I thought I'd stick with it for three years and move on, even though it was always my dream job. But it turned out to be so much fun, and so rewarding in so many ways, that I'm still here and loving every minute of it.
Q: How do you think FANGO affects the horror genre in general?
TONY: FANGORIA has inspired a generation of horror filmmakers and makeup people, just like FAMOUS MONSTERS did in the '50s and '60s. That gives me enormous pleasure. Today you are seeing exciting new directors making their first films who grew up on EVIL DEAD II and Freddy films and FANGORIA. I've been hearing that more and more. So many makeup guys in the business today got their inspiration from all those Savini and Rick Baker profiles in Fango. Our conventions have also been a great place for fans to network with professionals.
Any filmmaker with a new horror movie knows that the best way to reach their target audience is by talking to Fango, and they all line up to be in our pages, from Francis Coppola to Sam Raimi. Big studios vie for our covers, but at the same time we champion the independents, the lifeblood of the industry.
FANGORIA has also served as a trendsetter, introducing fans to new outlets of exciting and sometimes more extreme horror films. We were the first to tell the fans about foreign frights from Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and now France of all places.
Q: What are among your favorite issues?
TONY: Fango #200 has everything that I could ever want to put in a horror magazine. I loved that issue. Other favorites include #100, where we had Vincent Price's last major interview. And I'm big on theme issues, with the ones devoted to Asian films (#203), Godzilla (#173), vampires (#116), werewolves (#134), Lovecraft (#106) and even women in horror (#102) some of the best. I always love when we put a great monster on the cover, too, like PUMPKINHEAD (#70) or even the Orc from LORD OF THE RINGS (#209).
Q: What is the most appealing thing about the horror genre for you and why do you think this is?
TONY: I like to be enveloped in a strange and frightening world, no matter how dark it may be, because it is ultimately an escape from the even scarier real life.
Q: Who are your favorite three film directors and why?
TONY: Tim Burton, David Cronenberg and George Romero. I like Burton because his films are filled with such delirious, wonderful images. He's the ultimate outcast who somehow made it to the top and took us with him. I appreciate Cronenberg for his cinematic daring, his uncompromising films and his unique, uncommercial vision. Romero has made several classic films (NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, MARTIN, DAWN OF THE DEAD) and a number of pretty good ones (CREEPSHOW, MONKEY SHINES), but he is also the nicest guy in the business and a true independent.
Q: Who is your favorite horror author and why?
TONY: Stephen King is my favorite for his novels, Clive Barker for his short stories. King has the talent for writing horror for the everyman, while Barker can unsettle, disgust and horrify with a few hundred words.
Q: What is the best movie you've seen this past year?
TONY: GINGER SNAPS was the best. Because of my busy schedule, it is rare that I see a film more than once, simply because of lack of time. A few days after I saw GINGER SNAPS on the big screen, I watched the DVD at home and loved it even more. I love horror films that have a subtext, and GINGER SNAPS was brimming with subtext. It was a wonderful, scary and potent film experience and one of the best werewolf films ever made. Maybe even the best.
Q: If there's one classic horror movie you'd like to see re-made, what would it be and why?
TONY: Actually, I am tired of remakes. PSYCHO should have been the last one, or THE HAUNTING. They don't get worse than that. If you are going to remake something, take a film that was never great in the first place and try and get it right the second time. You know, some of the cheesy stuff from the '50s and '60s. I liked what Cinemax did with SHE CREATURE last fall. It had nothing to do with the original and instead was an intelligent feminist horror film told in the Hammer style.
Q: What do you think of the current trend of horror movies (JEEPERS CREEPERS, THE FORSAKEN, DRACULA 2000, etc.)?
TONY: I liked JEEPERS CREEPERS a lot. It was a real throwback to '70s horror and a fun rollercoaster ride. I thought both THE FORSAKEN and DRACULA 2000 were anemic. I did enjoy HANNIBAL, SESSION 9, THE CONVENT (best horror comedy since DEAD ALIVE) and THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE.
Q: What is the weirdest true life thing that happened to you that if you wrote it down would read like fiction?
TONY: Well, there were a lot of crazy things that I did as a kid but I'm not sure what the statute of limitations is! I was a bit of a troublemaker and wiseass growing up, but I could always run fast, so I never got caught. Our conventions can be pretty surreal at times, like the time I was stranded in NYC at the Pennsylvania Hotel. The blizzard of 1996 had hit, and no one could go home for several days, including scores of out-of-town fans (like the guys from Baltimore who crashed in my room), actor John Saxon, the frail, insulin-dependent Lucio Fulci and many others. It was quite an adventure carrying Fulci over huge snow drifts with PSYCHOTRONIC editor Michael Weldon and FX supervisor Tom Rainone. We were on the way to a 24 hour Korean barbecue joint.
Q: Any embarrassing stories about Mike G? (I've killed off Mike several times in a few of my movies)
TONY: Sorry, nothing I can think of. I have to work with the guy!
Q: What's the deal with the FANGORIA conventions? It seems like crowds have dwindled during the past several years...
TONY: Not true. If anything, the Fango cons have been bigger than ever in terms of fan attendance and cool celebrities. The last two shows, in NYC and Pasadena, were our first sellouts ever. Our guests are better than ever too, with people like William Friedkin and Rob Zombie showing up.
Q: Anything you want to add?
TONY: One of the exciting things about working at FANGORIA is seeing the magazine branch out in different directions: one-shot movie tie-ins, books, Fango movie productions (CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT, MINDWARP and SEVERED TIES), our new video label (launched with I, ZOMBIE, which you forwarded to us), trading cards, conventions (see www.creationent.com for a lineup of future shows) and website (www.fangoria.com). It's one of the reasons I've stayed at Fango for so long.