Classic Monsters – it all started with some Monkey Business…
The huge ape was waiting in the wings. Little did I know it but, once he stole me away, I would never be coming back…
It was Thursday. Two more days ’til Saturday night. Well, two and a half really, because it was only Thursday lunchtime, but I wasn’t going to count the extra half day. Gosh. Would Saturday at eight o’ clock never come around?
But it did come, and I took my place, a mere seven year old, on the sofa with my Dad. He dimmed the lights, the little black and white TV flickered into life, and there it was before me: King Kong – the Eighth Wonder of the World.
And so began my journey down the Highway of Horror, my forage into the Dungeon of the Damned, my headlong plunge into the Creepy Crypt of the Cadaverous; and mostly with my big, brave Dad to guide me.
Seeing I was displaying the sign of the pentagram, he presented me with his original 1958 copy of Forrest J Ackerman’s Famous Monsters of Filmland, issue 1. I screamed all the way to my bedroom and studied it cover to cover. I soon learned how to correctly categorise the Monsters from the Mummies, the Werewolves from the Witches and the Creatures from the Cosmic Critters; I could cover the whole gamut from the Alligator People to the Zombies, and I cherished every minute of it.
My junior school teacher advised on my report card that I had “a worrying obsession with monsters…” Fortunately, my Dad didn’t mind and my Mum didn’t worry, so the monsters got to stay. And they’ve been hanging around ever since. Denis Gifford’s definitive ‘A Pictorial History of Horror Movies’ cemented my resolve and, guided by Gifford, who became my great friend, I produced my first regular horror mag aged just 13, and sold it to all my school pals. Denis became a much loved contributor, and my Headmaster (you could still call them that in those days) applauded my enterprise; no more behavioural concerns at last!
I have spent a lifetime collecting films, publicity stills, programmes, handouts, press releases, magazines, books and models, relentlessly hoarding ephemera and stashing souvenirs into every nook and cranny of my mad lab.
Having written about my favourite subject for years, I have finally decided to produce this, my ultimate resource for Classic Monster fans, but please bear in mind it is always a work in progress. Films, actors and crew members are being added on an ongoing basis as either an anniversary of birth or death comes around, or a film’s release date, so if you don’t see your favourites up here yet, please be patient; this is an immense amount of work being undertaken by a small – but very dedicated – team, so we will get there in the end!
The first Classic Monsters Ultimate Guide was a celebration of Universal’s 1931 Dracula, and this can be purchased here. The guide to James Whale’s Frankenstein soon followed, and our range of these popular publications continues to grow, and can be perused in its current entirety here.
Our quarterly magazine, Classic Monsters of the Movies, launched in late summer 2015, and is now beloved by monster kids the world over. If you haven’t seen a copy yet, why not remedy that right away by checking out the range here. If you’d like to find out more about the magazine, it has its very own website here.
So, join us for the ride – why not register with your email address (we promise we’ll NEVER give it to anyone else) and make sure you get our regular updates and stories; that way, you’ll never miss a thing.
All that’s left for me to say is thanks for stopping by; I hope you enjoy discovering this website as much as we enjoy putting it together and, if I may paraphrase the words of our immortal Charles Dickens, I hope its little ghost haunts your houses pleasantly, and none of you wish to lay it.
Your faithful friend and servant,
– June, 2014
* A note on release dates: There are various sources of information on the old interweb from which you can glean release dates for films. The ones I use here are based on a combination of studio documents, distributor engagement contracts, press books and various other official film company sources. This is not an exact science and, sometimes, my dates disagree with those more commonly found online. I go with what I believe to be the most authentic information in the belief that I can provide you, my reader, with the most accurate material possible. Occasionally, I may be wrong; I hope you will forgive me. – NB