Saturday, February 13, 2016
WE BELONG DEAD NO. 17 REVIEWED
WE BELONG DEAD
Volume 1 No. 17
Editor: Eric McNaughton
Fans of horror films lost an icon last year with the passing of Sir Christopher Lee, the last of the prominent actors to emerge from the 1950s resurgence of monster movies. During his long acting career, Lee was not limited to just playing vampires and mummies. For example, he played a James Bond nemesis and, most recently, while in his nineties, enjoyed another taste of fame as Saruman, the evil wizard in the Tolkein epic film series.
Not surprisingly, besides being noted by the media in general, monster magazines responded by lauding the life and accomplishments of this one-of-a-kind, fine British actor. In particular, Eric McNaughton payed one of the best tributes to Lee that I have so far come across in his excellent print and digital magazine, WE BELONG DEAD (Number 17, Autumn 2015).
McNaughton and his talented staff, lead by designer Steve Kirkham, have devoted an entire issue to the horror film icon. That it is from Lee's home country is only fitting.
Leading off is a lengthy overview of Lee's participation with Amicus Productions, "The Studio That Dripped Blood". Who can forget the photo shown in nearly every monster magazine at the time of the fear-stricken Lee behind the wheel, gasping in horror at a disembodied hand that surely has malign intentions?
Next is a surprise look back at the obscure 1967 UK non-horror film, NIGHT OF THE BIG HEAT (know by the incredible title of ISLAND OF THE BURNING DAMNED in the US). This Terence Fisher-directed drama shows that Lee was not limited to Hammer horror roles and showed his versatility as an actor.
The list of tributes goes on: Stephen Mosley writes about Lee's role in RASPUTIN, THE MAD MONK, Ian Taylor re-examines Lee in TO THE DEVIL ... A DAUGHTER, John Llwellyn Probert covers the enduring Lee/Cushing collaborations, Matthew E. Banks discusses Lee's late-in-life acting revival playing Saruman in the LORD OF THE RINGS series -- and on it goes for 100 pages of thoughtful and heartfelt remembrances.
The neatly done page design, crisp text and well laid out graphics makes for an overall enjoyable reading experience. All of this is book-ended with excellent cover art by Paul Watts, David Brooks, Mark Maddox and Joseph Davis. In my opinion, there is absolutely nothing to criticize about this issue. It is superb from cover to cover.
I am in agreement with McNaughton that Sir Christopher was the last of the great horror stars, We may have a handful of contemporary actors enjoying fame in the "modern" era (Robert Englund and Bruce Campbell immediately come to mind), but none can surpass the pure quality of entertainment that Lee, along with Cushing and Price, gave us for many years.
MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD gives WE BELONG DEAD its highest recommendation. Go HERE for more information and ordering.