Book Review: WE BELONG DEAD #9

PrintE-mail Written by Jon Towlson

Review: We Belong Dead #9/ Author: Ed McNaughton / Publisher: Self-published / Release Date: Spring 2013

Easter is the time of resurrection, and one of the most impressive this spring is the return of We Belong Dead, Eric McNaughton’s fanzine that many thought deceased back in 1996 after just 8 issues.

Based on the only-slightly-delayed-by-16-years #9, We Belong Dead is very much alive and kicking. Despite its ‘fanzine’ status, WBD, both in design and quality of its writing, gives more ‘professional’ horror magazines a run for their money. WBD concentrates on classic horror, so don’t be surprised by the lack of coverage of modern multiplex fodder; there is more than a whiff of nostalgia in its 78 pages, but to its credit none of it is musty. The contributors are all horror fans themselves – and they include some well-known names such as Tony Earnshaw, John Llewellyn Probert and Stephen Mosley – so the bar is set very high indeed in terms of the writing. Stephen Jones and the wonderful Hemlock Books contribute the movie stills, posters and lobby cards that illustrate WBD’s sumptuous pages – including some rare overseas artwork, while the illustrations come courtesy of Dave Brooks and Woody Welch, including a stunning front cover by Brooks based on Hammer’s Twins of Evil. It’s all beautifully laid out by designer Steve Kirkham, and editor McNaughton collates a satisfying and eclectic mix of articles, reviews, think pieces and fan reflections, including a couple of ‘scoops’: a revealing but all too brief account of John Burke’s true contribution to The Sorcerers (1967) by Chris O’Loughlin; a final interview with Jean Rollin by Piddle Andersson; and an interview by the aforementioned Tony Earnshaw with scream queen Barbara Shelley.

Elsewhere in the magazine, there’s an entertaining retrospective of Twins of Evil by Mosley; an warm appreciation of Ossorio’s Blind Dead films by Probert; an informative look at Witchfinder General by O’Loughlin (clearly a Michael Reeves fan); and a fun look at the all-but-forgotten Al Adamson so-bad-its-good monster flick Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971) by Ernie Magnotta. Some of the other in-depth pieces include a detailed script-to-screen analysis of Tourneur’s Night of the Demon (1957); a survey of Peter Cushing’s work for Amicus; and a well-informed discussion of Tobe Hooper’s TV adaptation of 'Salem’s Lot (1979); as well as a raft of other fan writing on Aurora monster model kits, Facebook groups and the Bring Classic Horror Films Back to Television Campaign.

Produced as a labour of love by all involved, but with a professionalism that belies its fanzine status, WBD deserves a wide readership. It’s an absorbing read from start to finish. Issue 10 is already in the works; and McNaughton plans to publish a special 100 page Fearbook featuring the best of the long out of print and hard to find first 8 issues later in the year. Horror fans are advised to place their orders now as print runs will be limited. Based on the quality of issue 9, let’s hope the newly revived WBD will be around for a long time: We Belong Dead belongs very much alive.

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