WE BELONG DEAD #17

PrintE-mail Written by Martin Unsworth

The ever-popular fanzine We Belong Dead reaches its seventeenth issue on the sad note of the death of Sir Christopher Lee. Sure, the legendary actor will be missed, but rather than wallow, the collection of contributors to the magazine celebrate the acting genius of the great man with a selection of thoughtful, and insightful articles that cover almost every facet of the late star’s life.

Among the films covered in the fascinating essays are the obvious ones such as Dracula and The Wicker Man are Sir Christopher’s often neglected roles in the likes of Rasputin – The Mad Monk, his many appearances in Amicus movies, and even the completely politically incorrect Terror of the Tongs. Lee’s European movies are covered perfectly, with nods to the work he did with Jess Franco and Mario Bava, as well as numerous other more obscure titles.

His role in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings as Saruman the White is also put in perspective with his ‘comeback’ roles, particularly as it occupied his time from 1999 to 2004 and beyond, returning as he did in The Hobbit. Arguably, he’d have never been offered Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels had Jackson not cast him.

As well as touching on Lee’s remarkable singing career (one that he revived in his later years, even winning an award from Metal Hammer Magazine), there’s also room to cover the non-horror appearances in The Man with the Golden Gun - as the wonderful villain Scaramanga opposite Roger Moore’s James Bond – and his controversial portrayal of Pakistani icon Mohammed Ali Jinnah in Jinnah. An interview with the director Jamil Dehlavi from 2000 sheds some light on the struggles of getting the film made, and Lee’s contribution. The author of the piece, Tony Earnshaw, also provides a re-printed interview with the great man himself, conducted at the time Lee was promoting the updated version of his autobiography. It certainly adds some legitimacy to the collection, but the strength of this issue of We Belong Dead (and, indeed, the previous ones too) is the passionate and personal writing of the fans who make up the bulk of the contributors.

Many of the features are deeply indidual, and put into words what many of us felt at the passing of the legend (however inevitable it may be, it was still a gut punch to horror fans around the world). As such, we have almost stream of consciousness recollections, nostalgic reminisces that will resonate with many who read the pages.

The final pages of this beautiful little ‘zine are a selection of fan drawings and paintings. Some stunningly realised, and some not so, but all prove that the artists in question have that deep respect and love for this truly unique and much-missed actor.

Wonderfully put together and an essential purchase.

WE BELONG DEAD ISSUE 17 / EDITOR: ERIC MCNAUGHTON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW


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