Wednesday, January 22, 2014

WE BELONG DEAD FEARBOOK: THE BEST OF ISSUES 1-8


The thing I like most about Eric McNaughton -- who is the genius behind of one of the best classic horror "fanzines" I have ever had the pleasure of laying eyes upon -- is his honesty. In his forward to the long-winded but comprehensively descriptive THE OFFICIAL WE BELONG DEAD FEARBOOK: THE BEST OF ISSUES 1-8, 1993-1997, Eric 'fesses up by saying he does it all for nostalgia. 

Here, I'll let him tell you: "Like many readers I grew up in the 70s. I'd be hard pushed to pinpoint my first monster memory but it was one of three things - discovering Denis Gifford's wonderful Pictorial History of Horror Movies book; accidentally stumbling across the first issue of MONSTER MAG on the comic book rack of our local newsagents and persuading my mum to buy it for me; and seeing the box for the Aurora Glow in the Dark model kit for Phantom of the Opera." Now, I came in on the first wave of monster madness a generation sooner than that youngster Mr. McNaughton, but the galvanizing moments he describes here can be told thousands of times over by any number of Monster Kids during any period of the 50-plus-year chronology of Shock Theater, monster magazines, and the revival of the classic monsters who thrilled an altogether different generation from a quarter-century before. And just for example, my experience went similarly -- like this: I got Carlos Clarens' A Pictorial History of the Horror Film for a Christmas gift in 1965; my Dad finally caved and let me buy FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND #31 from the newsstand that held up one wall outside the Owl/Rexall Drug Store off Sherman Way in the San Fernando Valley (that's Karloffornia to those in the know); and, just a year or so before after being introduced to monster movies by watching Universal's DRACULA for the first time on TV, building my first Aurora monster model, The Mummy (followed quickly thereafter by The Wolf Man, then Dracula). So, you see, there is something -- okay, I'll go ahead and say it -- universal about getting bit by the monster bug, isn't there?

So enough nostalgia already, what's this "Fearbook" thing have to offer, anyway? Once you start looking, turns out plenty. McNaughton primes us for what lies ahead with a capsule summary and index about each of the issues that are represented in this massive, 120-page tome of terror. For example . . . are you ready? Here goes: Celluloid Horrors: A Look at the Fun and Frustration of Collecting Horror on 16mm & Super 8, a career retrospective of Paul Naschy,  the silent film versions of DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE, a review of FREAKS and Lon Chaney's THE PENALTY, a look (and I mean look) at Ingrid Pitt: The Queen of Hammer, Poe . . . On the Cheap (the Corman series), a history of Amicus horror anthologies, TV Horror, a feature on the sexy vampire shocker VAMPYRES, Val Lewton remembered, Teenage Terrors of the 1950s, Tigon Terrors, and, quite aptly, a short essay by editor McNaughton entitled, Those Were the Good Old Days, Need I go on? The parade of monster goodness oozing from this 'zine is virtually endless (there's a pull quote for you if there ever was one, Eric!).

Some of you may be asking by now: "Why all the enthusiasm for this monster magazine from the UK?" Well, I'll tell ya why -- because it's damn good. And anyone who wants to find out where WBD came from -- and why you should keep buying it now that it's being published again, should buy this Fearbook. I guarantee it does just what Eric says -- provide a good healthy dose of monster nostalgia. And it's all put together in a palatable modern package, so even those of you who say "Feh!" to the "old stuff" can enjoy it, too. You can't go wrong here, folks. Buy WE BELONG DEAD by clicking on the link on the sidebar to your right.

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