Cult Corner: Neon movie magazine - Mustard comedy magazine
Neon movie magazine

Cult Corner


Movie magazines. They're all the same. Hollywood blockbuster on the cover, all the big releases getting oodles of cover inside.

But it wasn't always like this. For a couple of years, back in '97 and '98 there was Neon.

So what was so great about Neon, then? Well, several things. First, it broke the 'latest film news and reviews' format; it still had those features, but much more space was devoted to great films from any period.

One particularly satisfying section was their meticulously researched feature on a classic film. With each one, the team ingeniously compiled and edited together comments from the main cast and crew (sourced from books or old interviews), intertwining them to form a running dialogue and provide a remarkable insight to the story behind the film – a technique later nicked by several other mags.

One of the other great things about Neon was that it had balls. It was not afraid to give a lot of attention to films that most people hadn't seen. Its '100 films you must see before you die' had Naked at number three, favoured Manhunter over Silence of the Lambs and rubbishes both ET and Top Gun.

Neon also went against the grain with its covers. Whist every other film mag on the stand went for 'scantily dressed chick', or glossy photo of the latest blockbuster sent to them by the film's PR team, Neon featured big grainy black and white shots of actors like Robert Downey Jnr, or inventive designs such as the bullet-hole ridden 'movie violence' issue (above).

Graham Linehan's Filmgoer's Companion

Neon also had a great sense of humour. One of the mag's highlights was Graham 'Father Ted' Linehan's achingly funny series Filmgoer's Companion. Every issue, the last-but-one page featured such gems as:

Diary of an Arthouse Hooligan: "Bertolucci is a fuck-all. He's a shit director and he's got shit support."

Screenwriting Tips:"Don't give your hero an extra arm just to get him out of a jam."

Sam Peckinpah: "For years Peckinpah maintained that he had shot his chin off. When suspicious friends would point out that he still had a chin he would become evasive and mask it with his hand. 'This is a different chin' he would say."

Film Hell: "All I remember now are the flies, the rats and the rain. It was a really terrible premier."

Script Notes for Star Wars: "Here's an idea: how about setting the whole thing in space?"

Of course, anything that doesn't focus on the mainstream is taking a huge financial risk, and Neon never did better than break even. After a year or so of ho-hum sales, publishers EMAP panicked, changed editors and went commercial (noticeably, Graham Linehan's column also disappeared). The final few issues went horribly downhill in quality (even taking on Empire's pretentious overuse of the prefix 'über-'), only for sales to drop and the mag to roll over and die.

But many of us keep our back issues stacked in the corner with pride, and Mustard salutes all who were involved with Neon for the quality issues they produced, and the all to brief respite from run-of-the-mill film journalism.

Neon: you will be remembered.

~ A.M.


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