Cinefex 1980-2021

Cinefex 1980-2021

There was this kid who grew up on the south coast of England in the 1970s, devouring television shows like Thunderbirds and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Doctor Who and cutting his cinematic teeth on Jaws and Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, while at the same time building his collection of maybe a zillion or so plastic construction kits and drawing all kinds of crazy stuff out of his imagination, all of which was kind of a prelude to the 1980s when as a teenager he ganged up with a small group of like-minded friends who acquired Super-8 cameras and started making films of their own, inspired by regular excursions to London to watch the latest mega-movie projected in 70mm on one of the West End’s gigantic screens, an essential component of these trips being a pilgrimage to Forbidden Planet or the Vintage Magazine Shop to seek out all the imported American magazines they couldn’t find anywhere else, and it was on one of these pilgrimages that this kid discovered issue 6 of a square little magazine called Cinefex, the journal of cinematic illusions, which – wonder of wonders – contained two long and unbelievably informative articles on a pair of films that had utterly captured the kid’s imagination, namely Dragonslayer and Raiders of the Lost Ark, plus a remarkable in-depth study of the nascent art of computer graphics, after which the kid made sure to pick up the latest copy whenever he was in town and so began a love affair that extended through the 1990s and into the next millennium, until one day this kid – now all grown up but still a kid at heart, always – dug out some of his old back issues and started blogging about them, whereupon Cinefex founder Don Shay got in touch and said how much he was enjoying the blogs, and one thing led to another and before this grown-up kid knew what was happening he was actually working for Cinefex, first setting up and editing a blog before taking up a full-time role as senior staff writer, which he held all the way up until the magazine closed early in 2021, and in which position he covered a bunch of movies big and small and interviewed many of the directors and effects veterans he’d idolised in those early years, and during which time he learned the truth about Cinefex, which is that it was the epitome of the family business, run by a small, close-knit team of warm-hearted people who looked after each other and were wholeheartedly dedicated to maintaining the integrity of a journal that was never merely a series of individual issues but a single entity, a decade-spanning encyclopaedia of knowledge that grew with the telling, the journal of record for an industry built on magic and wonder, a continuum, and a welcoming home for a writer and breathless enthusiast who revelled in the knowledge that each article he wrote would take its place as the next chapter in a body of work that would not only stand the test of time, but also define it, in the form of a journalistic stream of consciousness that always felt like it would never end, but, so very sadly, did.

8 comments

  1. Hi Graham, so sorry to hear about the folding of Cinefex. It’s been just over a week since I found out and was genuinely shocked as I assumed it would always just ‘be there’. I’ve been buying the magazine for its entire decades-long journey (with a few print gaps), so it’s effectively closing a chapter of my life. All the best going forward and please pass on my thanks to the Shays and the rest of the Cinefex family for producing such an amazing magazine.

  2. What a lovely piece. For certain, Cinefex is a reference series; as you say, much more an encyclopedia worthy of being shelved than a magazine to be read and discarded. Its folding leaves a giant knowledge gap in the industry and we’re so grateful to the Cinefex family for documenting the best work in the industry for decades. It was unique, important and beloved.

  3. Crikey, I’m still mourning Cinefantastique and now Cinefex has finally gone. The double-issues of Cinefantastique in its heyday were my own favourite (the double-issue about the 1982 Conan was one of the best magazine articles about a film that I ever read). Cinefex was the last mag from that era still going and its a shame to see it go the way of so many others. Clearly Cinefex and Cinefantastique were on a level apart from other film mags, but I look back with much affection on the pre-internet days of magazines being our source of info. Cinefex ending just seems another sad indication of changing times.

    One of my dearest regrets was not buying the Blade Runner issue of Cinefex back in the day; my pocket-money couldn’t stretch to buying it back then and the secondhand prices went silly not long after, so imagine my joy when Titan Books reprinted it in a hardback. Its such a pity some publisher couldn’t collect the best Cinefex articles into a luxury hardback edition. As an historical record I think they would be priceless, but would there be a market for such a book (I’d like to think there would be, but in my current funk I have to wonder how many people read books or magazines these days, after all I suppose sales must have had some bearing on Cinefex ceasing publication).

    Between films on physical disc in decline (and the grand era of in-depth special editions already largely a thing of the past), and speciality magazines like Cinefex ceasing publication, I fear things are changing for the worse. There won’t be a Cinefex dedicated to this year’s Dune or James Cameron’s future Avatar movies, and there is something terribly wrong about that.

  4. I don’t think I could have said this any better, my friend! Thank you! I’m so heartbroken over the end of Cinefex. But its memory will burn bright!

  5. Thank you, Graham. Cinefex was great. Shame it’s defunct now. Just one of a handful in those days I enjoyed reading and collect still. FILMFAX formerly Outré was another favorite, and FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, STARLOG, CINEMAGIC, CINEFANTASTIQUE.

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