We Belong Dead Fearbook – A Review by Stuart Anderson

 

fearbook1After reviewing the latest issue of the truly excellent Space Monsters Magazine in my previous blog entry of wonder, I subsequently received a message from Mr Eric McNaughton, the grand-master and all round dictator of the equally fabulous classic horror zine of We Belong Dead.

 

Now my long suffering  reader will know that not so long ago I penned a rather excellent, and some (well me) might say profound piece on We Belong Dead’s rise from the ashes of publication history to be reborn after a period of sixteen long years – and a triumphant return it was. In fact the return from the dead in the shape of Issue 9 was such such a success that it was decided to produce a collection of all the best bits and put them together into some form of, er, collection. It was to be called the The Official We Belong Dead Fearbook (see what they did there? – genius).

 

Although he didn’t say so in as many words, it is quite clear from our discussion that Eric was rather impressed with the blog article on Space Monsters magazine and so suggested that I might like to review Fearbook. Well, at least I think he ‘suggested’, there was quite possibly in retrospect some dark sub-text to his request that I just cannot seem to put my finger on.

 

So I recommend that you see for yourselves as the conversation ran something like this…..

 

Mr Eric McNaughton: Now then laddie!

 

MeEr, yes my lord?

 

Mr Eric McNaughton: About that article that you tried to write on the wonderful Space Monsters Magazine?

 

MeErm, tried?

 

Mr Eric McNaughton: Yes, tried. It’s a brilliant magazine that deserved much more than the frankly embarrassing attempt that you put together. I know that you tried your best so I suppose that counts for something. Well allright, I may be possibly being a little harsh, some parts of it were almost acceptable.

 

MeThank you, I think…….

 

Mr Eric McNaughton: So I’m giving you one more chance to redeem yourself and try to put together at least a few words with more than two syllables on my magnificent We Belong Dead Fearbook.

 

Me: Thank you Mr Sir – you know I won’t let you down!

 

 
fearbook2Mr Eric McNaughton: Well actually we all know that you probably will. However the Fearbook is my collection of my favourite selection of articles from the long out of print editions from 1993-1997 – so making sure people know about this chance to own some classic horror history is falling for the time being (so help me god) on your shoulders.

 

Me: Ok Mon Capitan, anything else that I should know?

 

Mr Eric McNaughton: In it’s 5 year incarnation WBD went from an amateur, shoddily printed zine to a slick, professional looking mag. It was indeed a learning curve, but along the way we assembled a most talented group of writers and artists, many of whom still contribute to the 21st century WBD. If you look at issue 1 almost the entire issue was written by myself, but that soon changed from WBD 2 onwards as our popularity grew. The production of the zine was very old school, remember these were the days before internet and email! I would have to type up ALL the articles which were mailed to me, do all the page layout by hand literally using scissors and glue! I remember my delight when I finally managed to get an electronic typewriter to put together issue 7! How the world has changed!

 

 
Me: Blimey, somebody has some passion!

 

 
Mr Eric McNaughton: Thats right my good man! Now get cracking on with it and don’t cock it up for once  – remember, I know people!

 

So on that not so veiled threat on my personage I began to read the whopping 120 page Fearbook and immediately began immersing myself In its nostalgic loveliness. As I initially ‘flicked through the pages’ my eye caught one particular feature hiding away on page 43 –  simply called, TV Horror. The introduction for which from Neil Ogley goes as follows;

 

fearbook3“During the first incarnation of We Belong Dead, I had the idea of pulling together a listing of all the BBC2 Horror Double Bill seasons to form an article for the fledgling fanzine. (I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who had that idea.) As a youngster, like many others I was often allowed to stay up to watch horror movies and I loved the weekly offerings that ran regularly throughout the summer. “
 

 

“Back then most people thought the horror double bill seasons ran from 1975 until 1981 however it seems that even though the BBC skipped a season in 1982, a final series of double bills was broadcast during the summer of 1983 although this season was entirely made up of the classic Universal horrors from the 30’s and 40’s all of which had been shown before, predominantly in the 1977 season Dracula Frankenstein & Friends.”

 

And what do you know? That particular paragraph could have actually written by me (though possibly not nearly as well), because the scenario that Neil described was something that completely parallelled my own introduction to the wonderful world of horror. I’ve mentioned in previous articles in this blog of wonder that I’ve often traced back my initial introduction to horror by being allowed to stay up late during one childhood Saturday evening to watch Son of Frankenstein from Universal Pictures. It’s a long cherished memory of mine, however, the problem has always been that I’ve never been able to remember exactly when this took place. That is until now, as this little snippet from the Fearbookshows.

 

DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN AND FRIENDS 1977

 

Saturday 2 July 1977

 

23.05-00.25 Dracula (Universal1931)

 

00.25-01.35 Frankenstein (Universal 1931)

 

Saturday 9 July 1977

 

22.50-00.00 Bride of Frankenstein (Universal 1935)

 

00.00-01.25 Brides of Dracula (Hammer 1960)

 

Saturday 16 July 1977

 

22.45-00.15 The Mummy (Universal 1932)

 

00.15-01.05 The Wolfman (Universal 1940)

 

Saturday 23 July 1977

 

22.10-23.45 Son of Frankenstein (Universal 1938)

 

23.45-01.10  Kiss of the Vampire (Hammer 1964)

 

There you have it, the official birthday of the Fifth Dimension blog could very well be said to be ten minutes past ten on the 23rd July 1977 – how brilliant a discovery is that?!

 

I can hear what you are saying – “OK, big deal but is a relatively small piece of nostalgic memories really important enough to write about?” Well yes it blooming well is because nostalgia is exactly what this joy of a magazine is all about. It perfectly recaptures the plethora memories that we all of a certain age have when we discovered and experienced the wealth of horror from what many remember as the classic age of the genre.Don’t misunderstand me, my love of classic horror doesn’t mean that I regard the more contemporary fair as necessarily being sub-standard and not worthy of consideration, On the contrary, each decade since the 1970’s to date has seen some magnificent examples of movie making. Moreover, the current independent horror scene is as rich and exciting a period in terms of creative ambition as any time I can remember. No, what I love about this zine and others such as Space Monsters Magazine is that here we have a group of like-minded individuals who are reliving their personal recollections of creepy discovery, and with it, taking us along with them for the ride of a horror lifetime. Something which I and many others have no trouble in relating to and identifying with.

Classic horror needs to be kept in the wider public consciousness – this is magazine is the perfect way to do that.

The 120 page of classic horror loveliness is far too detailed for me to be able to review each and every marvellous article – but I will for now briefly mention three pieces of personal note.

 

fearbook4PHANTOM OF THE OPERA  by Eric McNaughton

 

This article from Eric originally appeared in the very first edition of We Belong Dead and has been revised and updated for the reproduction in the the Fearbook. It’s a lovingly detailed appreciation of what I would regard as the best movie version of the Gaston Leroux’s classic 1910 novel, and the one that features one of the giants of the classic age of horror, Lon Chaney.

 

Phantom of the Opera (1925) may put off some people by the fact is is silent and made in black & white, but that would be a mistake. It is a powerful creepy and highly atmospheric production that I and many others are still affected by when viewing in this, the most modern of ages.

 

The piece is a delightful loving account, not just only of the movie itself, but also of the behind the scenes work ranging from Chaney’s legendary attention to detail in preparation in make-up to his influence on the direction of the film. Eric clearly loves the movie, its theme and location and the article is simply a genuine joy to read.

 

 
fearbook5INGRID PITT – THE QUEEN OF HAMMER

 

I’ve never disguised my almost-clean and respectful love of Miss Pitt and her contribution and legacy to British horror. Gary W Sherratt, who wrote this marvellous piece in the 1990’s, when Ingrid was still with us, obviously shared that love too.

The article isn’t just lovingly written it is also accompanied (as in the rest of the publication) by a delightful collection of Photos, film posters and lobby cards of the genuinely delicious and talented woman who’s horror legacy was thankfully is as strong now as it was when she was still alive.

The effect of any article can often be measure in how much it makes one think – and after reading this lovely account I think I’ll now go my Ingrid Pitt collection and watch the whole damn lot this weekend!

 


fearbook6Dan Gale compares Romero’s original classic 1968 Night of the Living Dead with Tom Savini’s 1990 remake in the eighth edition of the magazine.

 

I along with every horror fan has their personal views on the qualities (or need) for remakes of classic movies. Indeed, a previous piece or two in this very blog of wonder has compared the merits of the odd remake with its predecessor. Dan Gale provides a well balanced and at times blackly humorous of the two movies and even (perish the thought) manages to say a few kind things about the remake – I know!!

 

What stands out about the article is that it takes place in the pre-Walking Dead and general Zombiethon climate that seems to exemplify a large chunk of contemporary horror. Reading this particular article in an age when Zombies hadn’t been done to death (see what I did there?) is a peculiarly refreshing experience and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

 

For those of you who are wanting to purchase a copy of the We Belong Dead Fearbook then go TO THIS LINK

 

The We Belong Dead Facebook page can be found RIGHT HERE

 

 

Issue 12 of We Belong Dead is due out very soon!
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I heartily give this 9 out of 10

Space Monsters Magazine – A Retrospective by Stuart Anderson

Space Monsters Magazine

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Issue number 3 – excellent, but no Maddie Smith though….
Space Monsters is dedicated to classic sci-fi, fantasy and monsters in movies and television from the black and white silent era through to the colourful early eighties! 80 black and white A5 pages with full colour front and back covers packed with the very best movies and TV shows from a bygone era.  Featuring features, reviews and artwork from many of the same cast and crew of popular classic horror magazine We Belong Dead,  Space Monsters Magazine has become a huge hit with classic sci-fi and monster movie fans!”

A bold claim in terms of quality and quantity it could be said, from Richard Gladman, the head honcho of Space Monsters Magazine… hmmmmm, a bold statement indeed.

So when Mr G decided to place a request on Space Monsters Magazine’s Facebook at HERE for some genuine requests for reviews of his magazine I thought that I might be able to accomplish two things – firstly to test and challenge the claims of the magazine in my usual biting and insightful way (shut it!). Secondly, it’s also a golden chance for me to be genuine once again (the fact that I received a free copy has absolutely nothing to do with my opinion, positive or negative). There are some in my real life away from this blogging lark that may suggest that I’m a compete charlatan  and impostor – but she’s only saying that because she knows me….

I may have said it before, but when I was younger and all growing up I was something of a nerd (as opposed to being older and all grown up AND as much of a nerd as ever). The 1970’s and 1980’s provided a truly rich source of magazine based material for a young nerdy boy (stand in a corner and clean out your mind!) and in my case it was no exception. Perhaps the first magazine I can remember developing an obsession for was the Planet of the Apes publication which was released when I was but a slip of a lad. The magazine accompanied the short-lived spin-off television series of the 1970’s and was chiefly responsible for my lifelong obsession with the whole Apes movie series, TV series, animated series and remake series……I think you catch my drift.

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In those pre-internet days magazines like that and others such as The Six million dollar manAmazing stories and the daddy of them all, Starburst, provided me and other like-minded obsessives one of the few links to genres that back in those relatively technologically prehistoric days didn’t have the level of acceptability that they may have now. I’m not saying that nowadays our sci-fi, fantasy and horror obsessions are no longer looked down upon – there is still an element of barely disguised snobbishness on some faces when you tell them that you are currently reading/watching the latest piece of science fiction or horror. However, it is safe to say that nerds and geeks are a lot cooler these days than when I was growing up and faced an ever constant tidal wave of in no way concealed derision that I would rather read Philip K.Dick and watch Space 1999 than ‘something proper’.

I mentioned some time ago, when I was lucky enough to review copies of the We Belong Dead, just how refreshing it was to see that this modern digital world hasn’t completely overshadowed the more traditional forms of publications. For against all considered opinion, paper-based genre magazines seem to be enjoying something of a renaissance with sales and interest being nicely complimented and enhanced by the digital medium. Indeed, I was wandering around a certain movie store just a couple of weeks ago with a friend (yes I do still have friends, surprising I know) where I witnessed a veritable plethora of genre magazines which seemingly catered to every taste that we could possible want…… well most, because as in those dim and dark distant days, apart from such notables such as the wonderful Starburst magazine, classic British themed science fiction and horror still seems to find itself in the lower rankings of publication importance.

But it seems that the tide may well be turning, because in Space Monsters Magazine we have a publication that not only deals with classic Sci-Fi, Fantasy and horror, but even better, a good deal of its content is British based – hurrah!!

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Lets just sit a while and look
at this picture shall we?….


Now it won’t come as much of a surprise to those who have previously read this blogging piece of wonder to hear that  when it comes to Science Fiction I have three particular loves (well three that I can actually talk about without having to consult my already overworked legal team); Classic Sci-Fi & horror, British Sci-Fi & horror and thirdly, absolutely anything featuring the delicious Madeline Smith.

The third edition Space Monsters Magazine has two of those three important factors – I will sincerely attempt to give an impartial and considered appraisal of the magazine even though there is absolutely no sign of her deliciousness. It may that Maddie may have appeared in issues 1 or 2, however that’s not really good enough as I don’t have my hands on those two particular copies.

If I was the magazine editor my main stipulation would be that each and every issue should include some reference to her deliciousness. I do acknowledge that it does sound as If I have some dangerous and creepy obsession with Miss Smith and I do seem to appear as if I’m in need of some clinical help…….well, there’s a queue for those who believe I’m in need of some psychological help, so get in line :-).
So what sci-fi/fantasy & horror delicacies have in store for us in issue 3 of Space Monsters Magazine ….. well let’s find out shall we?

The first thing that caught my eye in regard to the magazine was the stunning layout and artwork (of which a great deal has been specially commissioned) – it quite simply looks amazing. I have only the PDF copy to go by but the paper copy (which I hope to get my hands on soon) is beautifully adorned with not one, but two choices of truly wonderful cover art.

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“Bride of Frankenstein in Outer Space”


One example is the one at the top of this blog and the second cover is this stunning piece of artwork by Woody Welch. This and other works from the magazine’s artists such as Ash Loydon Trevor Talbert give the overall feel of the magazine a wonderfully rich and textured artistic quality.

Not only that, but there is a veritable plethora of original cinematic stills, poster art and lobby cards, some of which I’ve never seen before which makes even the most hardened of nerds feel as if he or she is wandering through a veritable science fiction and horror themed Aladdin’s cave of wonder. It’s all a true feast for the eyes which perfectly compliment the range of articles and features.

If I was more clued up on Internet copyright I would right at this very moment be downloading and saving each and every one of the posters, cards and film stills for my own personal collection. But of course I’m not doing that. I am however very very jealous and rather intimidated by the range of visual talents on show, they’re just showing off and it’s not fair.

I will genuinely be getting in touch upon the completion of this blog entry with Mr Welch to obtain a signed copy of the ‘Bride of Frankenstein in Outer Space’ – and that is in no way sycophantic hyperbole.

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A stand-out feature that immediately caught me eye is the magnificent 15 page feature examining the appearance ofFrankenstein in the movies. It’s written by Sascha Cooper, who according to the background info in the magazine is a professional actress, dancer, psychic medium, writer and owner of Crimson Horse Theatre Company based in Brighton. Yep, definitely again someone who is far too talented for her own good – or in other words, makes me inconsolably jealous and insecure.
The Frankenstein movies produced by Universal Pictures were perhaps my first true horror loves, so this article naturally caught my eye first. It’s a gorgeously thoughtful and well researched examination of not only the movies themselves, but also of the literary background and influences dating back to the birth of the story from the story telling competition between Mary Shelley & her band of poetic deviants.

This wonderful article takes us on a detailed and captivating journey from that initial telling of scary stories that were initially intended just to pass the time during a period of bad weather, through those magnificent Universal Pictures films featuring the genius of Boris Karloff. The piece finishes at the point where we see Shelley’s originally tortured  creation now treated as an object of slapstick comedy in the 1948 Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein – about as far away from the original story but, as the writer nicely argues, still with its legitimate horror merits. I can’t wait for the follow-up article which takes up the story from the 1950’s when the simply stunning Hammer productions created new paths in Frankenstein lore.

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The Lovely Joan in a bit of a pickle
However, please don’t think that this magazine is simply an elitist high-browed view of classics of the genres that you and I love. There are plenty of features that are intelligent yet still fun and enjoyable purely for the sake of being so – an example of which is a lovely piece on the fabulous 1970’s big Bug movieEmpire of the Ants.

Ernie Magnotta provides us with an entertaining write-up of this wonderfully (often unintentionally) funny low-budget movie. I must admit to always loving this film which features a young and decidedly scrumptious Joan Collins. She plays the role of a decidedly unscrupulous a real estate agent who cons unsuspecting individuals to buy property on an island which is going to be transformed into a getaway for the rich and prosperous jet set.

Things however quickly go more than a little pear shaped for Miss Collins’ character as it soon transpires that the island is full of intelligent giant carnivorous ants (Naturally). The special effects are pretty ropey, even for a 1970’s B movie, but despite that (or probably because of it) the film is a perennial favourite viewing experience of mine and many others.

A favourite movie given the entertains review treatment that it deserves – a genuine treat.

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Emily Booth given the Woody Welch
treatment – as it were.
There is of course much much more, including pieces on French animated feature Fantastic Planet (1973), Ultraman (1966), One Million Years B.C. (1966), Moon Zero Two (1969) – which is a truly wonderful ‘Space Western’ that I first saw in my teens on one freezing cold winter’s evening and to this day I cannot understand why this movie has never reached a wider audience. As a result, I was overjoyed when I saw that this movie was being given the loving treatment that is finally deserved.

Believe me, I haven’t even began to scratch the surface of the plethora of other material in the issue.

Issue 3 of Space Monsters Magazine is a near perfect visual and literary feast for classic horror and classic sci-fi fans alike. It is obvious that this is a true labour of love for Richard and his team who clearly feel passionately about the genres and subject matter contained within each and every issue. This isn’t simply a case of superficial nostalgia for a past age of classic television and cinema, yes it is a genuinely lovely to look at appreciation of gems from out past lives, but there is a genuine show of talent and obvious attention to detail to the features in the magazine.

If that wasn’t enough, part of the obviously talented team of writers and artists one particular writer happens to be the truly lovely Emily Booth, presenter de delicious from The Horror Channel, who pens columns on her favourite examples of horror film and television. It is all genuinely excellent stuff.

Now if we could only improve Space Monsters Magazine further in the upcoming issues with some Maddie Smith…………….

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Where to buy Space Monsters Magazine?….well seeing as you’re asking …….Here is a list of some fine online and traditional purchasing establishments depending on whether you want the PDF version of the wonderful A5 sized paper edition.

Classic Horror Campaign –

Dead Good Publishing Ltd (Digital Version) –

The Cinema Store – 5 Upper St Martin’s Lane, London WC2H 9NY

Camden Film Fair – Saturday 22nd February 2014
Ninth Circle – various festivals and events throughout 2014

Psychotronic Store –

Scare Store –

Suspect Video – (605 Markham Street * Toronto * Ontario * Canada * M6G 2L7)

London Film Memorabilia Convention – Saturday 29th March 2014