Splatter (still) Matters: Fangoria and a Return to “1980s Style" Gore Effects

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Tony Williams proposes that 1980s horror cinema was overly reliant on ‘spectacular special effects and gory bloodbaths’ (2015: 192). This uncharitably broad characterisation of 1980s horror is discernible in V/H/S/85 (2023) which – to a noticeably greater extent than any of its franchise predecessors – forefronts the spectacle of gory practical effects. The release – and gore led content – of V/H/S/85 was Fangoria, a magazine central to the ‘paradigmatic shift’ in the status of practical effects during the 1980s (Mathijs, 2009: 153) and integral to the repositioning within that decade of the special effects artist as ‘the new auteur of horror’ (Martin, 1981: 4). Both Fangoria magazine and V/H/S/85 – along with films like it – will form the focus of this paper, which will examine the recent return to “1980s style” practical gore effects in the horror genre.

After unpicking the relationship between gore effects and Fangoria in the 1980s, this paper will consider the magazine’s role in championing 1980s style practical effects more recently. This exploration will include examination of their annual Chainsaw Awards, which gives individual recognition for special effects makeup, creature creation and “Best Kill” (often tied to scenes that showcase practical gore effects).

Although the visceral materiality of 1980s style gore effects have been previously held up as a symbol of the decade’s excess perhaps best left in the past, this paper will point towards a vibrant strand of nostalgia for these effects shared by sections of horror fandom and key creatives within the genre such as Adam Green and Damien Leone, both of whom cite 1980s gore and Fangoria as key influences on them. Overarchingly, as this paper will demonstrate, in an era often marked by instantaneity and digital ephemerality, the physicality of practical effects created splatter still matters.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusIn preparation - Jun 2024
EventReturn of the Gothic 1980s: Sequels, Trilogies, Multiverses & Beyond - Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Jun 202421 Jun 2024


ConferenceReturn of the Gothic 1980s: Sequels, Trilogies, Multiverses & Beyond
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Practical effects
  • Gore effects
  • Special Effects
  • Horror Film
  • 1980s


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