Readers of MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD know that my love for this subject is deeply rooted in the Monster Craze of 1960's America. This is the time-period where I cut my teeth and honed what would turn out to be a life-long interest. In other words, this was something more than idle curiosity, a passing fad . . . I was not just an armchair Monster Kid! And while I wasn't particularly active in fandom at large until my later years, you couldn't have escaped my enthusiasm if you came anywhere near me in those days.
When I read the10th issue of WE BELONG DEAD, I felt a similar enthusiasm. I know you can't go back home again, but this is darn close, monster lovers. The staff at WBD also appears firmly rooted in the times that transfixed us Monster Kids like a crucifix to a vampire . . . only with a considerably more satisfying result. You see, these blokes are from across the pond, and it's exactly for this reason that I believe this magazine works so well. Yes, I believe that is their respect of tradition that makes all the difference. Now, I don't have to be syrupy sweet about it, but these folks have a nostalgia thing going that is captivating to at least one Yank, anyway.
Issue 10 is dedicated to Ray Harryhausen and is blessed with another superb cover by Dave Brooks. As for the contents, where do I begin? Is it with Troy Howarth's Bravo Bava!, an in-depth essay of the life and career of the famous and influential Italian filmmaker, complete with source notes? How about another fine, lengthy essay, The Frankenstein Saga -- Hammer Style, by Matt Gemmell? The two remembrances of Jon Finch and Jesus (Jess) Franco? The retrospective of Universal's HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN? The cool coverage of Mexican monster movie lobby cards? Do I need to go on?
Like their previous issue (reviewed here yesterday), I've got my own favorites. Rhonda Steerer's article entitled, The Soft Side of Boris focuses on Karloff's career-long habit of never disrespecting the roles that made him famous -- in other words, never slapping the claw that fed him. Reading about the more "human" aspect of his personality reminded me of a conversation I had with Sara Karloff at last April's Monsterpalooza in Burbank, CA. I mentioned that Boris must have been quite a gardener as I had seen numerous pictures of him amongst flowers, greenhouses, and the like. The ever-charming Miss Karloff said of her father: "Boris loved his garden, and he loved his roses!" To hear the daughter of Boris Karloff say those words to me suddenly turned the life-long fantasy I had of Karloff into a real person.
Another favorite of mine was Eric McNaughton’s short but sweet piece, Thank You Denis! A Pictorial History of Horror Movies, A Nostalgic Look Back. McNaughton shares his personal experience that galvanized his own life-long interest in monsters when he buys Denis Gifford’s book of monster movie history on holiday in 1973. I have that edition as well. I can’t remember exactly where I bought it, but I do remember devouring its contents many times over the years. Numerous photographs were unique and had not even been seen in the monster magazines of the day. Mr. Gifford, of course, shared his astute criticism in the accompanying text, but the pictures were the thing.
There is much more to read and to enjoy in this latest offering by Eric McNaughton and his staff of more than competent writers. Not to take away from the current line of commercial ‘zines, but it’s good to see this kind of work still being produced by people who are obviously interested in the subject. As with their previous issue, I highly recommend support this 'zine and buy WE BELONG DEAD. If you don’t, YOU BELONG DEAD!