Saturday, November 2, 2013


The new issue (#31) of Richard Klemensen’s long-running magazine Little Shoppe of Horrors filed through my PO box today. Devoted primarily to classic British horror cinema (and the films of Hammer in particular), I spent the tram ride home ...being thoroughly absorbed in Tim Lucas’ wonderful piece on his time spent writing for the late Frederick S. Clarke’s highly influential Cinefantastique magazine. Writing his first piece for the magazine at the age of 15 (initially as a way to deal with a close friend’s suicide), Lucas, like many of his fellow contributors, had a lengthy (10 years) but sometimes rocky working relationship with Clarke which ended on a bitter note, but like most other people who also had run-ins with the publisher, he is never hesitant to give the magazine its fair share of praise and due credit. To many of that era (the early 1970s), Cinefantastique was the first pro-zine publication which treated genre cinema with the depth and respect it deserved (even if it was trashing a film as it did so). As a kid, I used to buy Cinefantastique from Space Age Books in Melbourne, and often imagined what exciting lives the people who put out magazines like that must have led. Decades later, it’s sobering but fascinating to learn the truth. Fred Clarke, who committed suicide in 2000 at the age of 52, was a troubled and difficult man, but the legacy he left behind continues to exert an influence - directly and indirectly - on the genre film writers and journalists of today.

Haven’t had a chance to look at the rest of the issue as yet (which includes pieces on the making of Hammer’s DEMONS OF THE MIND and the delirious 1970 monster schlock classic TROG), but the Cinefantastique piece is worth the cover price alone. And as is usual with Little Shoppe of Horrorsthese days, it is beautifully illustrated and has some gorgeous original art by the likes of Mark Maddox, Steve Karchin and Paul Watts.