Sunday, February 27, 2011



Natalie Portman won the Oscar for lead actress for her performance in “Black Swan” at the 83rd Academy Awards on Sunday night. It was the first Oscar win for the 29-year-old mother-to-be who played a prima ballerina descending into madness. Portman was considered the favorite to win the Academy Award, having already won the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award and a BAFTA award, the British equivalent of the Academy Award.

Portman was competing against Annette Bening for “The Kids Are All Right,” Nicole Kidman for “Rabbit Hole,” Jennifer Lawrence for “Winter’s Bone” and Michelle Williams for “Blue Valentine.”

MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD comments: Congratulations Miss Portman! I wonder if there will be a sudden onslaught of "psychological thrillers" (that's Hollywood chickensh^t code for "horror film") unleashed upon moviegoing audiences in the near future . . .



6:57 pm "The Wolfman" won the Oscar for makeup at the 83rd Academy Awards on Sunday night. Rick Baker and Dave Elsey received the award for their work on the film about a man who transforms into a werewolf. This was Baker's 12th Oscar nomination and seventh win. He won his first Oscar for makeup in 1982 for his work on another werewolf film, "An American Werewolf in London." This is Elsey's second nomination and first win.

"The Wolfman" was competing against "Barney’s Version" and "The Way Back".





Legend has it that on Thursday, February 27, 1958 the very first issue of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine hit the stands. The world would never be the same, thanks to James Warren and Forrest J. Ackerman!

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Dave Davey, editor and publisher of the fledgling monster 'zine UNDYING MONSTERS has sent along a cover scan of the highly anticipated UNDYING MONSTERS #1 (above). The image of the demon from THE CURSE/NIGHT OF THE DEMON is masterfully rendered by Mark Maddox and looks absolutely fantastic. The latest news is that issue #1 will be released the first week of April.

And, good news for those of you who missed the Limited Edition #0 issue that introduced the title back at last year's Chiller Convention. It will be re-solicited in Diamond's PREVIEWS in June. Of course, you can always check out the UNDYING MONSTERS website for ordering information. Catch the link to the right of this MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD blogroll on the sidebar.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Pulp magazines, by virtue of their age and the celebrated authors and illustrators often found within their pages, may sometimes fetch high prices in the collector's market. But why would this rather obscure title from 1967 be selling for a shockingly exhorbitant amount? As the famed pulp detective, Jules de Grandin would say, "Shall we investigate, mon ami . . . "

STARTLING MYSTERY STORIES, along with its companion title, MAGAZINE OF HORROR, were two "digest-sized" pulps that were sold on the newsstands from 1963 to 1971. Published by Health Knowledge, Inc., the magazines were edited by Robert Augustine Ward "Doc" Lowndes (September 4, 1916 - July 14, 1998). Lowndes was an author of science fiction and horror stories himself, who had corresponded briefly with H.P. Lovecraft. He was also quite active in the early science fiction fan circles of the day.

Like it's sister publication, STARTLING MYSTERY STORIES used both new material and reprints. The Fall, 1967 (No. 6) contained these stories:

"My Lady of the Tunnel" – Arthur J. Burks (reprinted from Astounding, November 1933)

"The Glass Floor" – Stephen King

"Death from Within" – Sterling S. Cramer (reprinted from Wonder Stories, June 1935)

"A Vision" (verse) – Robert E. Howard (reprinted from Weird Tales?)

"Aim for Perfection" – Beverly Haaf

"The Dark Castle" – Marion Brandon (reprinted from Strange Tales, September 1931)

"Dona Diabla" – Anna Hunger

"The Druid’s Shadow" – Seabury Quinn (reprinted from Weird Tales, October 1930)

It certainly becomes clear after seeing one named "Stephen King" listed among the authors, of the reason behind the high collector's price in today's market. But why so high as $15oo? While not justifiable to some, the reason is simple -- this is the magazine that contains Stephen King's first professional sale.
It is also clear that King's talent was very evident early on, as Lowndes' story introduction attests:
Stephen King has been sending us stories for some time, and we returned one of them most reluctantly, since it would be far too long before we could use it, due to its length. But patience may yet bring him his due reward on that tale; meanwhile, here is a chiller whose length allowed us to get it into print much sooner.”

WEIRD TALES October 1937
 King was reportedly paid $35 for his hard work. Not an unfair amount in those days, especially for an untested writer of around 20 years old. King had a story previously published in COMICS REVIEW entitled "I Was A Teenage Grave-Robber"(!) but was not paid for it.

Whether or not one wishes to pay the money for STARTLING MYSTERY STORIES No. 6, we nevertheless, to some degree at least, have Robert A. W. Loundes to thank for introducing us to the man who would become the most famous horror writer of modern times.

No. 6 (Fall, 1967)
Health Knowledge, Inc.
130 pages, 50 cents
Cover artist: Virgil Finlay (reprinted from an illustration for a 1937 WEIRD TALES story, "The Homicidal Diary")

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Popular culture has the natural and unflagging ability to constantly reinvent itself. Its chameleon-like nature is well suited to absorb the slightest influence which will, in turn, provide it the instinctual response to morph into something completely different (i.e. marketable) at a moment’s notice. Some would call this being fickle. On the other hand, industrious entrepreneurs find it to be a never-ending fount of opportunity. Resultingly, pop culture literally gives birth to a panoply of products; all geared to catch the eye of someone interested enough to spend a few bucks. Others take this pursuit seriously enough to call it “collecting”. Either way, it’s a vital economic thread in the fabric of the modern social structure and we are unlikely to ever see it disappear any time soon. Even in times of economic stress, pop culture offers the succor of entertainment as surcease to an otherwise unsure and sometimes depressing state of mind.

Horror films and monster movies are one element of pop culture whose genius loci can be found in the very beginnings of cinema history. Pioneers of the industry did not take long to make use of the fantastic and supernatural in their work. With recurring and iconic themes and images, filmmakers and auteurs made them indelible in the mind of the public as well as assure them and their creations a firm place in the annals of cinema history.

Not surprisingly, movie patrons have flocked to the theatres during nearly every period of horror cinema history, cementing a niche relationship between popular culture and society as a whole. It was only a matter of time until these films designed to frighten were utilized for laughs . . .

So, what about “cute” versions of monsters, and what do they tell us about horror? The answer, while obscured by the veneer of consumerism and the capitalist initiative, is not hard to see. But, then again, it is not so simple to explain. The question goes deeper, much deeper, actually, than just the Pixar films and toys that are so ubiquitous.

It may come as no surprise, but we humans have an intrinsic need to understand our environment, indeed, our relation to the cosmos and our very reason for existence. As a consequence, we fear that which we do not understand. We are uncomfortable, even frightened of the unknown. This forces us to not only come to an understanding about the things we are afraid of, but also cultivates an unerring need to conquer them. Vanquishment, then, seems to be another weapon in the arsenal called the human condition. Either that or we flee like frightened rabbits -- "fight or flight" as we have been told.

You have no doubt heard of the various psychological terms and tropes that abound in the discussion of horror, and horror films in particular. One of the more common explanations is that the viewer undergoes a catharsis, or cleansing process, while watching a horror movie. This can be accomplished with or without the suspension of disbelief. An observed horrific event followed by laughter is the healing balm against anxiety. It is, indeed, a medicine for melancholy. Relief can also be gained when there is a reconciliation of a natural event that has masqueraded as a supernatural one. For example, this effect was put to good use by the so-called “shudder pulps” of the 30’s and 40’s. Suddenly, we feel better when the bogey man turns out to be Uncle Harry in a monster suit.

This condition can be exponentiated to include what is termed “cute”. Probably the most glaring example of our need for the mentioned emotional reconciliation is the current (and ludicrous) propensity to humanize non-human objects. The proliferating belief of the transference of humanity to animals comes immediately to mind, and science continues to battle over the dichotomy of “feelings” and “impulse”. For instance, studies have shown that large eyes, such as those of harp seals, evoke a sympathetic response in humans. The word “nurturing” would not be lost here. A more extreme example is a story that was seen in 2008 in The Weekly Standard entitled, “The Silent Scream of the Asparagus”, that talked about a Swiss ethics panel arguing for the “dignity” of plants. This dizzying new relativist paradigm could then give new veracity to the phrase: “Don’t step on that spider, it might be Lon Chaney”!

By relegating monsters to “cute” status, are we applying our need for this intrinsic emotional reconciliation? Or, to put it differently, are we finding a way to sympathize with a freak of nature or a thing-that-goes-bump-in-the-night? Maybe we are only simply trying to reduce our fears with the vanquishing of the element that makes the monster fearful, leaving nothing more than a sanitized version, a parody to laugh at and cuddle.

It would be cavalier, perhaps even irresponsible to ignore the deeper context of this question. There are, of course, a myriad of superficial discussions that could be exchanged for each serious one proposed. But, all one has to do is to take a look at any toy counter these days – you won’t find it hard to find the monster Little Big Heads, the Cookie Monster cookie jars, the plush Cthulhus, hard evidence of the patina of pop culture blinding us to the deeper complexities of their true purpose.

One thing is for certain: popular culture has commercialized our fears and turned them into one horrifying monster that every consumer can identify with -- the Cash Cow! Ultimately, I don't believe that cute versions of monsters really tell us anything about horror, per se. In actuality, they tell us everything about ourselves.

A NOTE TO MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD READERS: This post is intended as a part of a "round table discussion" with other bloggers who are members of the LEAGUE OF TANA TEA DRINKERS. It is a part of a networked discussion. Other contributions to this topic can be viewed at the blogspots listed below. As always, please feel free to comment as you like.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011


No. 23/24 (Double Issue)
Editor: Alan G. Barbour
Publication Date: April (?) 1972
Publisher: Screen Facts Press
B&W covers and interior
52 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.00
Estimated value: $20.00

I covered a special SCREEN FACTS ALBUM edition in a July, 2010 post. In it I discussed the beginnings of SCREEN FACTS magazine and its creator Alan G. Barbour. Mr. Barbour was a highly-regarded writer and film historian. His name can be seen in many film publications, and he wrote a number of books including one on the Republic Pictures serials.

He also had access to massive stills collections. This special double issue of SCREEN FACTS spotlighted the Universal horror films and was promoted as "A Pictorial Salute to All Time Favorite Universal Horror Fills". And what a tribute it is! Filled with impressive, high quality shots of famous scenes from the various classic Universal monster movies, it is a visual feast for any fan of the era. Although a number of the stills are quite recognizable today, many have not had a lot of exposure since they were published here. I am particularly impressed with the portrait of Vincent Price from the TOWER OF LONDON. Also included in the sample images below is a great crane shot of the Universal backlot.

SCREEN FACTS magazine remains an indispensible resource for not only vintage horror film images, but historical cinema in general. This special monsters issue was printed on a toothy, matte paper. The repro qualities of the images are terrific. The only text are the captions at the bottom of each photograph. The rest of it more than speaks for itself.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


The people behind the camera of PIRANHA 3-D have a very good reason to party. The movie is well on its way to grossing a cool 100 million bucks. And, despite its already legendary status as "the bloodiest movie ever made", reviews have been generally favorable. Believe me, after watching it myself, I'd have to say it was quite a thrill ride and very much enjoyable. I even found myself laughing out loud a number of times at some of the over the top scenes. Then, of course, I've got a bit of a morbid sense of humor . . .

The film is packed to bursting with bikini-clad cleavage, bare skin, and blood -- lots of it, along with hanging flesh and chomped bodies. Halfway through, I was thinking an alternate title could be "The Revenge of Ivar's", as the fish get their justice, even with a cameo Richard Dreyfuss who whistles an awfully familiar tune while he's out on the lake fishing for bass -- but ends up landing something far more deadly.

Even with the steady undertow of adolescent humor, PIRANHA manages to maintain a solid footing on dry monster movie ground. The folks at RUE MORGUE magazine liked it enough to award it two best-of's for 2010, including "Best Guilty Pleasure" and "Goriest Scene" (Jerry O'Connell's lingering death-by-fish-teeth). The stunning horror hottie Kelly Brook as Danni is smokin' and the camera loves her every minute she's on the screen. After all, she spends most of her time in a red bikini, but so far I haven't heard any complaints about that. Jerry O'Connell chews up his role and spits it out in fine style as the manic Wild, Wild Girls film producer. Elizabeth Shue does a competent job as the Sheriff and Ving Rhames' role as deputy is left to a minimal supporting function. Acting kudos also go to Steven R. McQueen  (yes, it's his grandson) who plays Jake and his character's two younger siblings. A film like this doesn't spend much time on characters, though. But I have to say, the script and Director Alexandre Aja manages enough expository work to let us feel at least a little bit of something for them as he takes drags us mercilessly and headlong into the -- dare I say it? -- jaws of danger!

All PIRANHA-partied out.



Let's close out MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD's DRACULA FEST week with something exclusively Renfield, shall we? After all, Dracula would have never made it to England without the 'ol fly eater!

The article is from WARREN PRESENTS DRACULA 1979, a reprint from FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND #122.