August 02, 2014

MONSTER MAG rises from the grave with two new issues!


MONSTER MAG!
It's Back! Bloodier Than Ever!

The goriest movie magazine of the 1970s - a cover gallery including the brand new issues...

Of the few horror movie magazines available in Britain in the 1970s, Monster Mag was the most outrageous. Gory publicity photographs all in full bloody colour on glossy paper. Once seen, never forgotten, but it's time for a little reminder now that two more editions have been published, 39 years later!


Early issues had more text, less colour, but great posters!

MM 2 was confiscated and destroyed, but MM 3 was even bloodier!

Censored from British and American versions, this scene has only just re-appeared in the newly-restored blu-ray edition of Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (MM 3)



 MM 6 had a foldout poster from Ken Russell's The Devils


MM 6 covered Amicus' The Beast Must Die, with this graphic shot of a throat wound effect that still baffles me. The graininess of the image made me think it could be an optical effect?



From 1973 to 1975, these monthly magazines were the clearest images from current and recent horror movies available at pocket money prices. Each edition had photo-heavy 'articles' that folded out with a huge tasteless (creased) poster on the reverse. 'Poster magazines' later became more popular as movie tie-ins, like Doc SavageIsland at the Top of the World, and a monthly series for Star Wars.

Monster Mag mostly covered European and British horror films that were in cinemas in the mid-seventies. Light on text, often leaving many photos uncaptioned, they alerted horror fans to the existence of many movies we had no hope of seeing unless they turned up on TV.

According to publisher Dez Skinn's website, Monster Mag was edited by husband and wife team Roger and Jan Cook. Apparently Jan's mission was to find the goriest movie photos that were around at the time. This was a full five years before Fangoria magazine began, and also learned of the power of gory photos on their circulation.

I discovered my first Monster Mag in a local newsagents when I was about thirteen! (My first issue was six, I might still have been twelve). Buying them sometimes took a couple of tries because I was refused a few times. The front cover had a strip saying 'For Adults only', a warning usually only printed on softcore porn mags. I'd return to the shop on a different day, when someone different was at the till, and try my luck again. Thought I was being ingenious by covering up the 'adults only' banner with my thumb. Didn't always work.

Inside MM 7, Willard, Ben and Blood Island!

MM 8 had a startling spread covering Paris' Grand Guignol theatre, and a photo-free article on The Exorcist.

MM 9 has more Euro-horror with The Claws of Lorelei and Horror Express


MM 9, had this mystery poster, probably from the Grand Guignol stage production that they covered in MM 8.

MM 10 has two pages on When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth and this great publicity photo of Vincent Price as Dr. Phibes




MM 12 has more great photos, but the poster features Hammer's worst ever fake head, from Twins of Evil!


This shot of sting make-up from The Deadly Bees is barely glimpsed in the film (MM 12)

As you can see from all these covers, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing were Britain's kings of horror!

Grisly giant poster of Dracula frothing blood!

Excellent shot from Vampire Circus - again, I can't tell if this is a fake head or a camera trick (MM 14)

Volume 2 had a slightly smaller format and the posters were diminished down to two big photos


Vampire Circus gets a four-page spread in volume 2, no. 2

Volume 2, no. 3 was the last of the Monster Mags (or was it?)
Includes a great spread of photos from Scars of Dracula


At the time, horror was barely recognised as a serious genre, and violent thrillers like Bonnie and ClydeDeath Wish and A Clockwork Orange, westerns like The Wild Bunch and A Fistful of Dollars were the main worry of censor-happy moralists like the Daily Mail. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre hadn't opened in British cinemas yet (not until Christmas 1976), but I think that's when low-budget horror started being perceived as a threat. 

But just before then, there wasn't any fuss in the papers over Monster Mags being sold in the newsagents. The threat of 'high street horror' didn't hit hard until video rental shops opened everywhere.

For the rest of 1975, I collected most of the Monster Mags (12 of the 17), failing to backorder the gaps in my collection. But for decades, no-one was able to complete their collections because issue two was never on sale in the UK, though they were available abroad, in German and French... 



Problem was that the English editions were also printed in Europe, but on arriving in England, Her Majesty's Customs seized all copies of issue two, destroying every last one! It was only a few years ago that I first saw a photo online of the French edition (above), but never ever a copy for sale. Only last month did the publisher officially reprint it in English (below). Hurrah!



It's a mad thrill to be able to buy a brand Monster Mag again, after all this time. At the end of July, publisher Dez Skinn followed up the resurrection of issue 2 with the 'XX issue' that was promised in the last ever Monster Mag in 1975! So that's two new editions that are now on sale, both selling for cheaper than any secondhand vintage editions. But there are also these babies...





After Monster Mag folded (sorry), a toned-down foldout poster mag appeared throughout 1976 called Legend Horror Classics. A bizarre mix of creepy comic strips and movie photos, aimed at a younger, but still bloodthirsty, reader. The comic artwork was too simplistic for me at the time, and the first two cartoony covers put me off. 



However, I bought this one with the astonishing photo from Death Line on the cover. This was even gorier than the Monster Mags!


Also bought no. 3, that tied in nicely with a reissue in cinemas of Ray Harryhausen's The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. The plot was adapted as a comic strip and there was this four-page cyclops poster (above) too. In all, there were nine issues of Legend Horror Classics that were mostly comics inside.



But, the last three issues returned to an 'all photographs' format like Monster Mag. The titles were Vampires (above), Werewolves and Frankenstein. Here are all twelve covers of Legend Horror Classics on the Monster Magazine Gallery site.

Welcome back, Monster Mag. It's been a while! Looking up your history, I've learnt more about the tempting Legend Horror Classics series too.






Get the new Monster Mag editions from Dez Skinn's website
or from his eBay shop.

More about Dez Skinn's adventures in publishing on his website (the story of Monster Mag is near the bottom of this page).





And here's my look at the other horror movie magazines on sale in Britain in the 1970s.





2 comments:

  1. My first issue was number 7, and I had the poster of Lee as Fu-Manchu on my wall. But I think that was the only Volume 1 issue I had.

    Our mission must surely be to ID the poster image from number 9...c'mon, it can't be *that* difficult. Do you actually have it, so we can get a better pic?

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  2. best web site on the net

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