Many books have been written on the seventies as horror’s golden age; few convey as well as this one does, what it was actually like to grow up as a horror movie fan in that era, a time before DVD, digital downloads and Netflix, when actually getting to see horror films was often quite difficult, as they were usually limited to a few late night showings on TV (back when there were only three channels) or occasional repertory screenings at the local Odeon (usually on a Sunday afternoon). Often deprived of the actual movies themselves, seventies Monster Kids (like this reviewer) indulged their passion in reading about horror films instead: magazines like House of Hammer and Famous Monsters kept the flame burning as did horror film picture books by such luminaries as Denis Gifford and Alan Frank. The Monster Kids worshipped at the shrine of the Aurora model kit, and swapped trading cards and comics, and poured over movie tie-in novels; anything to get their fix in the long, agonising wait between movies.
Eric (We Belong Dead) McNaughton’s 70s Monster Memories captures the whole experience in a mammoth 400 pages covering every aspect of what it was to be a horror fan back then. With over seventy contributors writing on a diversity of horror peripherals from BBC Death and Horror Sound Effects LPs, to Geoff Love and his Orchestra soundtracks, to poster magazines, creature feature cards, Scooby Doo, and Dracula Lives!, this is makes for a fascinating look at the many faces of horror fandom.
Although aimed squarely at those who partook in those times (for whom the sight of Horror Top Trumps and Wall’s Dracula’s Secret ice lollies is guaranteed to stir up more than a few childhood memories) there is plenty here for horror fans of all ages. The articles are well researched and informative. Many (such as Tony Earnshaw’s interview with Dez Skinn about the story of House of Hammer magazine) take us behind the scenes of legendary TV shows, comics and fanzines. There’s stuff on British and American television horror and much more besides.
More than a just nostalgia fest, then, 70’s Monster Memories records a very special era in horror fandom, one which ultimately gave rise to the horror community that we know today. “What amazes me from talking to others over the years is the shared experiences,” McNaughton writes in his introduction. “We thought we were the only ones, but there were hundreds, if not thousands, of us across the globe, all experiencing the same thing, being influenced by the same books and magazines.” It is exactly this sense of shared experience that 70s Monster Memories captures so vividly; making the book not just a hugely enjoyable document of 70s horror ephemera, but a testament to horror fandom in all its multifaceted glory.
70S MONSTER MEMORIES / EDITOR: ERIC MCNAUGHTON/ PUBLISHER: BUZZY KROTECK PRODUCTIONS / RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 20TH 2015