When I was 15 I used to walk home from school. It gave me an opportunity to have great big long chats with my friends who lived along the route home, and, perhaps crucially, was significantly safer than getting the bus home. In my experience, typical bus rides along secondary school routes in the mid-90s tended to involve at least basic criminality. Fights, drug-taking, even mild torture were common. It wasn't unusual for bus drivers to simply drive past the stops closest to my school; neither was it particularly exceptional for a bus ride to terminate five minutes after departure at the local police station. As you might expect, there was a drive to avoid all that. Walking home instead, even though it took around 45 minutes and you were almost guaranteed to be spat at by the animals that had sought public transport, was seen as the best solution.
It was on these marches that I first came across Neon, a new film magazine. The first issue I bought was the fifth, dated May 1997. The cover was a reproduction of a 70s Jaws poster, accompanied by the text 100 FILMS YOU MUST SEE BEFORE YOU DIE. How could you not love that? Not 'Humdrum Magazine Presents 100 Pleasant Films', or 'Servile Ad Mag's 100 Bestest Films'. No, Neon instead issued an imperative. 100 films so ace that if you hadn't seen them all by the time you were on your death bed, well, you'd fucked up. I think one of my best friends, Gary already had this issue, and couldn't recommend it highly enough. So I dipped in - likely with saved up dinner money - and ended up warping my film tastes forever. Neon represents a ground zero for me, the point were I started to really think about films not as violent time-wasters, but as something fascinating and worthy of intense teenage scrutiny. A thought that lingers to this day.
My new favourite blog Neon Magazine Scans '97 - '99 has issue 5 scanned and catalogued in its entirety. Embedded above is the countdown that kick started my mutation. How many have you seen? I'm on about 87.