Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Review: Classic Monsters of the Movies Magazine

When I was a lad, there seemed to be literally hundreds of monster movie magazines. Titles like Famous Monsters, Monster Mag, House of HammerStarburst, and Shivers, not to mention the classic books by Denis Gifford and Alan Frank ... but these days the pickings are much slimmer. We still have Starburst of course, and The Dark Side, but one of the best, Fear, tried a comeback which didn't work ... and there's not much else.

Thank goodness for Nige Burton and his Classic Monsters of the Movies magazine! I first discovered this gem a few years back when Nige and myself both had trader stands at a HorrorCon (Sheffield I think it was), and I was immediately taken by the magazine.

First of all, the covers. Now magazines, like books, can survive or fail on their covers. Indeed one of the late lamented Fear's main selling points were the beautiful Oliver Frey covers which graced every issue. Now Classic Monsters has discovered the talented pen of Daniel Horne, and his simply jaw dropping portraits grace every issue. I am reminded of the great Basil Gogos and his portraits which graced covers of Famous Monsters, and Daniel's work has a class and a beauty which elevate this magazine.

Once past the cover though, and Nige assembles a fascinating collection of film analyses, character profiles, reviews and actor and director profiles covering everything from the early days of F W Murnau's Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari to more modern fare of Pet Sematary and Hammer's output.

That's what I love about the mag, that it's not afraid to mix the old with the new. In an edition which features Michael Myers from Halloween on the cover, Nige explains that some people complain if they cover anything after around 1950 ... well I would suggest that this is just short sighted on the part of the complainer! If you're going to cover Classic Monsters, then there are modern classics too ... and the beauty of covering them all is that it brings younger aficionados into the fold as well as those who love the classic black and white films.

It's a beautifully printed and presented magazine, chock full of photographs which have been cleaned up and which sparkle like new. Indeed, the picture content is second to none - gorgeous photographs from old black and white (and colour) films which really show off all the detail and care that went into the original make-ups and productions.

But it's not all films! There are features on collecting and nostalgia too, so if you ever owned a glow in the dark Aurora Monster model kit, or poured over a copy of Denis Gifford's A Pictorial History of Horror Movies, then the magazine is for you ...

I so strongly recommend it to you ... Nige is doing an amazing thing and it deserves supporting ... so go and buy a copy today - or better still get a subscription! You won't regret it!

For more information, visit http://www.classicmonstersofthemovies.com/



Monday, July 22, 2019

Review: Resurrection of the Daleks Novelisation

Way back in the dim and distant past, when Target novelisations were being produced monthly, and there was much excitement about every one, allegedly Terry Nation's agents decreed that if any of the eighties Dalek stories were to be novelised, then they wanted a hefty percentage of the royalty, leaving the actual writer who had done all the work, very little indeed.

Thus it was that Eric Saward, writer of the two eighties Dalek stories Resurrection of the Daleks and Revelation of the Daleks, decided that he didn't like those terms and so declined to write the books, or to allow anyone else to write them either. So they languished un-novelised (apart from a fan-produced version) until 2019.

With the whole business of Doctor Who publishing turned on its head, and the BBC looking for more and more ways to publish books  so Saward finally found a deal he was happy with, and finally the novelisations of the last two stories to be novelised are being published.

I got Resurrection of the Daleks the other week. The BBC, in their infinite wisdom, have done them as un-matching editions which look unlike all the other Doctor Who books available.

Thus we get a small hardbacked book, with a black, silver and red cover with the smallest Dalek in the centre ...

And the writing ... well ... To be honest I might have read a worse written book, but it's hard to think of one. The writing style is odd. It's sort of third person totally uninterested. As the plot unfolds with scant regard to characterisation or detail, so the reader is kept at a distance from all the action. Oh there are lots of bits added: references to the spaceship Vipod Mor and to Tinclavic and Terileptils (all created by Saward for the series and spin offs) to the extent that you start to wonder if the Doctor has ever encountered any aliens aside from the Terileptils. But all this feels forced and unnecessary. There's a tagged on ending with Tegan feeling like a superwoman, heading off on a barge, watched by the two policemen ... But even this feels empty. 

The descriptions are clunky and poor. There's one moment which made me splutter on my tea! Had I really just read that Tegan took a stool from her room into the TARDIS console room? The TARDIS apparently has in it an Explosion Emotion Chamber ... and a robot chef called Ooba-Doa! There's elements which have no relation to the narrative, and there are characters which just drift through without ever actually making any impression on you at all.

And then there's the Daleks. Never have I seen them worse characterised than here. If you didn't know what they looked like or how they spoke, then you would never know from reading this book. They scream, they ooze, they get cross ... what they don't do is behave like Daleks!

Davros fares little better. It's such a shame that such a long-awaited book turns out to be so poor in almost every respect.

Later in the year we have the second Dalek story to look forward to: Remembrance of the Daleks, which was enlivened on television by Graeme Harper's inspired direction ... I can only wonder what the book will be like.