Wednesday, November 30, 2011


CINEMA RETRO magazine specializes in covering only movies from the 60s and 70s. Since this was a rich period of filmmaking around the world, there is no shortage of material from which to draw.

I have described CR as a sort of "hybrid" monster magazine because, while it generally includes monster movies from its specialized era in each issue, it also covers other genre films, such as spy, western, etc. The mag has a real international feel to it and that makes it unique among other film magazines currently available.

Co-publishers Dave Worrall and Lee Pfeiffer recently sent out a notice announcing the start of their eighth year of publishing, or, as they so charmingly put it, "8th season".

Here are excerpts from the newsletter:

"As we enter our 8th year of publishing, we'd like to thank each of our loyal readers for helping us keep the dream alive. It's not easy maintaining a magazine in the age of the internet, but we continue to thrive thanks to our many readers throughout the world. A very special thanks to those of you who subscribe to Cinema Retro. Frankly, there is no greater way of helping us out (unless you have a few million bucks laying around that you'd like to donate). Every subscription goes a long way to ensuring that we'll be able to maintain the high standards you've come to expect- with a minimum amount of advertising. We've also been able to maintain our pricing without a single increase in eight years, despite soaring costs for printing and mailing.

Every issue will continue to be a limited edition collector's item. In fact with the closing of Borders stores in the USA, readers have even more reason to subscribe. Not only does this limit the number of venues you can buy Cinema Retro from, but we've also adjusted our print runs accordingly, meaning that every issue is more limited than ever since we are no longer supplying Borders.So thanks to all our subscribers- especially those who have so promptly renewed their subscriptions! By doing so, you have ensured you won't have to pay the sky high prices that sold out issues of Cinema Retro have been commanding on eBay (up to $150 in some cases!)

There is plenty of excitement in store for season 8 of Cinema Retro beginning with our eye-popping cover girl for issue #22, Sybil Danning. As usual, this issue will be eclectic in terms of content: major examinations of Jack Cardiff's great adventure film Dark of the Sun (aka The Mercenaries) and special features on two Cinerama epics: Krakatoa, East of Java and Sir Christopher Frayling's magnificent study of the making of How the West Was Won. In the next twelve months, other major features will include John Boorman's Deliverance, the films of Elvis Presley, the history of movie comic book tie-ins and rare back lot photos from the James Bond films.

So get on board the Cinema Retro bandwagon and enjoy the most unique film magazine in the world- dedicated to the celebration of films from the 1960s and 1970s."

Closing Channel D . . .

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Over the last few weeks I've spent my Birthday money on a trove of monster treasures from that Giant of Colossus otherwise known as eBay. Along with Amazon, these two mega-sized merchants have got a Bombay Strangler-hold on the electronic shopping market. Consequently, merchants gravitate to the marketplaces that draw the most customers -- especially those who spend a lot of money. Call it by any other name, but I call it the beauty of Capitalism at work.

While there are other online auctioneers, eBay seems to me to be the most user friendly . . . or the most seductive, depending on your point of view. With the "Buy It Now" and "Make An Offer" options, eBay is hard to beat when you're shopping for monster merchandise both old and new.

Now, I'm not a "greenie", "tree-hugger", or militant environmentalist by any strectch of the imagination. What I am is a responsible person who calls "Foul Waste!" when I see it, and do my best to conserve energy and to recycle. You may be wondering, what's this all got to do with eBay? Well, it's not exactly eBay I'm talking about . . . it's the sellers.

Here's my beef: After receiving a multitude of packages in the mail from these recent orders I have made a couple of observations. One, although they would probably say that they're just being careful, I've come to the conclusion that eBay merchants are paranoid about package tampering. I say this because, being a mail-order merchant myself (full-time once, part-time now) I know that one can simply overdo the packaging, period. I've got nothing against securing packages from the ravages of the careless postal carrier and the roving eyes of the potential thief (sometimes even the postal carriers themselves), but when I've got to break out a pair of scissors, a knife, and a box cutter, and an arcane magical incantation, that's when I have to say, "Enough!". I've come pretty darn close a couple of times to hacking up my mag trying to delicately cut around the merchandise before I can even see what's inside. But you know, that's really not what peeves me as much as the second thing I've observed.

The second thing I've observed is the wasteful use of certain wrapping materials. Let it be known I am a strict advocate of recycling packing, right down to plain 'ol newspaper if that's your fancy. But what I have noticed is the dubious practice by many 'a merchant of the outright plundering of the U.S. Postal Service's free shipping envelopes and other gratis items. Mostly I see a Priority Mail envelope used as half-assed "backer board" for books and magazines. I've even seen the Small Flat Rate Box used for this, also. And don't give me that line about already paying for it with your tax dollars (considering that you have the moral scruples to pay them in the first place, that is).

Why is this a bad thing, you say? Well, how about it's damn wasteful for starters. And, if you're not going to use the USPS envelope or box to actually mail your items in, don't use it for packing filler just 'cause it's free, please. That's pretty cheesy and downright lazy in my book. The economy's not that bad where a mail order merchant has to grap an armload of "free" stuff at the Post Office to make up for the few cents it costs for stuffing the gaps in a mailer or box.

So, if you care to listen to it, the best advice I can give is this: Try lightening up on the shipping tape on the outside of the package so that you can afford some of the inexpensive materials for the inside.

You won't ever catch me advocating the use of windmills as a replacement power source, but I do see through green lenses once in a while -- especially when it's something as clear as this. 

Monday, November 28, 2011


Another SPOOK THEATRE wax wrapper has shown up for sale on eBay. This was the 1961 trading card series better known as SPOOK STORIES, or, as we Monster Kids called them, just plain "monster cards". The price for this is $39.99, about $20 less than the last one of these I showed you a few months ago. The seller claims it to be in "excellent to mint condition", but I think you'd agree that the pencil writing on the bottom and the hole near the top left would make that statement arguable from a collector's standpoint.


Sunday, November 27, 2011


We have seen that Forrest J Ackerman, editor-in-chief of the King Kong of monster 'zines, FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, was quick to become a celebrity in the few short years following its debut. One could even say he became the de facto spokesperson for the monstercraze of the 1960s. And why not? His home was crammed with the stuff that us Monser Kids craved. He even let a batch of us in on specially-scheduled weekends.

FJA was no stranger to self-promotion, either. One of his "side jobs" was as a literary agent. If you're a shrinking violet in that business you might as well fold up your tent and go home. As a result of his unabashed marketing, readers of FM were treated to the occasional insight in the way of interview or Arckermansion photo tour. This grew into one of the many gimmicks that were used throughout FM's history that made the magazine feel like as much a social network as a reading experience. One might even go so far as to say that this was an early, low tech version of Facebook.

One of these early biographical articles appeared in FAMOUS MONSTERS #25 from October, 1963.


Saturday, November 26, 2011


It didn't take long after the publication of the first issue of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND before its editor-in-chief, Forrest J Ackerman, became a bit of celebrity. Hailing from where he called "Horrorwood, Karloffornia", he lorded over a massive collection of monster, science fiction, fantasy, and other genre memorabilia that included books, magazines, posters, stills, props, models . . . well, you get the idea.

In what was surely a natural progression, FJA found himself in front of the movie camera on numerous occasions. Most of the time they were bit parts, but us Monster Kids waited in rapt anticipation for our Uncle Forry to appear in the movie as much as any cinephile did waiting for director Alfred Hitchcock to make his trademark appearances in his own films.

We usually found out which films Forry was going to be in from the pages of FAMOUS MONSTERS. In 1972, it was no different. The March issue of FM (#89) announced his cameo in yet another movie. And, by the title, it sounded like a doozy.

Well, DRACULA vs. FRANKENSTEIN, one of many Al Adamson fringe fests, was a bit more like a dozer. Kitschy and vaguely charming as a B-movie relic, the rather roughly produced DvF couldn't find any traction with theater-going audiences, even with the likes of appearances by Lon Chaney, Jr., J. Carrol Naish, Russ Tamblyn, Regina Carrol, Angelo Rossitto, and the aforementioned Forry.

Nevertheless, Ackerman promoted the film in FM with his usual enthusiasm as the next big thing in monster movies. Included was a full-page spread with the "horrifying" sequence that depicted FJ's scene as a victim at the hands of the doughy-faced Frankenstein monster. Other pics showed exotic newcomer Zandor Vorkov as the immortal Dracula, this incarnation of the Count hep with the times and sporting a 'fro. Insert shivers . . . or chuckles, here.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Fan, pop culture icon, and Monsterologist supreme, Forrest J Ackerman would have been 95 yesterday. We are fortunate to have much material on his life and accomplishments, not least of which was his most notable -- editing "The World's First Filmonster Magazine", FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. I suspect Forry himself would point out many other achievements, both public and personal, that came close -- or even surpassed -- the notoriety of his and publisher James Warren's immortal 'zine.

The last years of his life were unfortunately fraught with lawsuits, health issues, and the requisite financial burden of someone who was self-employed for much of his life. Forry was forced to downsize and turn much of his treasure trove into a quick buck to pay for legal fees and doctor bills. Living out his days in a pint-sized "Ackermansion", what remained was a failing icon amidst only his most cherished possessions.

It stunned me to see a large portion of his once-in-a-millenium collection of memorabilia land the auction block not long after he passed away. Where were his benefactors, I asked myself? Where were the fans that professed their love for the man and how he had not only formed their lives and careers, but their bank accounts as well? Where was the financial help to assist him with his lawsuit when he needed it? Why wasn't his hitherto, priceless archives and artifacts not collected by a consortium of wealthy "friends" and conserved and protected from being scattered to the four winds?

Dammit! His collection should have been housed in a museum, supported by the various millionaires who in no small measure owe their livelihood to him. Instead, we are left with documentary images of the many well-known and wealthy talking heads singing the praises of "Uncle Forry" and how they were transformed into who they are now because of him. If there ever was an argument for the transferrence of wealth, the building of an eternal Ackermansion by the people that gained from his inspiration is about as good a reason as I can come up with -- at least in this case.

In 1967, Forry suffered his first heart attack. A few months before, he had invited a group of guests to his fabled Ackermansion, located in "Horrorwood, Karloffornia" for his annual Halloween party. In attendance was the writer Dennis Etchison, who has since become a notable horror ficiton author. Etchison wrote about his experience and had it published in the June 1967 issue of the men's magazine CAVALIER. It includes a follow-up interview after Forry had his heart attack.


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Thursday, November 24, 2011


Feliĉan naskiĝtagon!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


A previous installment of DOUG'S HALL OF FLAME covered the "Carl Dreadstone" line of mass market paperback books from the 1970's. As a part of the "Universal Horror Library", each book was a novelization of a Universal horror picture. Over the years, there were theories on who exactly this Carl Dreadstone fellow was. Various assertions, confessions and revelations have been made, many with the ring of truth to them.

I was excited to hear from one of the Carl Dreadstones himself this morning. World reknown writer (one of my personal favorites is his collection of Lovecrat-inspired horror stories, COLD PRINT) and columnist for VIDEO WATCHDOG, Mr. Campbell commented on THE MYSTERY OF CARL DREADSTONE post back in early October.

Mr. Campbell here has verified, with his personal knowledge, the following:

"I wrote The Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula's Daughter and The Wolfman. Walter Harris did The Werewolf of London and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Nobody seems to recall who wrote The Mummy. I also wrote all the introductions."

We'll have to wait and see about the final mystery of who wrote The Mummy. Until then, thank you very much Ramsey Campbell, for taking the time to comment here at MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD.



(November 23, 1887 - February 2, 1969)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


To everybody who celebrates it: Thanksgiving is just a couple days away. Hope yours is safe, friendly, and your bird is doubly-tasty this year.