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Thursday, 2 August 2012

Yesterday's Papers - House of Hammer

House of Hammer volume 2, issue 6
March 1978

By the time this issue hit the shelves, Hammer Films were losing market share in favour of the new breed of horror movies – the horror business was changing and the Hammer films were feeling tired and couldn’t compete with the new wave of horror that was packing fans in at the cinemas. We’d already seen The Omen and The Exorcist and later this year a little movie called Halloween would change the horror genre when it ushered in the slasher years.

For now though it was business as usual for this Dez Skinn edited magazine. The cover is drawn by artist, Bill Phillips who was filling in for regular artist, Brian Lewis. Following Dez Skinn’s editorial in which the editor talks about, among other things, the interview with Peter Cushing which takes pride of place in this issue we are in to an all original Frankenstein comic strip written by Neil Adams and drawn by Dick Giordano. It’s a complete story this issue and features both Dracula and the Wolf-Man alongside old Frankie.

Following the strip we are into the regular Media Macabre section which tells us of upcoming genre delights -  We are told that Peter Cushing is to play a Nazi in an American movie called Hitler’s Son. This is apparently a comedy but we can find no trace of the film so my guess it that it came to nothing. Star Trek’s Carrie Fisher is quoted as saying, “I want to be the next Peter Lorre and I’m hoping the second Star Wars movie is called Abbot and Costello meet Star Wars.”  May the farce be with you indeed.

We are also told that horror legend, John Carradine is working on his 400th film and we are also told that Sean Connery has signed for Meteor, a SF movie, and we also learn that Donald Sutherland is to star in a new version of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers which is to be directed by Phillp Kaufman. We also learn that Lee Grant has finished work on the Swarm and will immediately go onto Damien Omen II.
We then learn that Sylvester Stallone is writing and due to star in a movie about writer, Edgar Allan Poe with the Italian Stallion playing the part of Poe. Thankfully this didn’t happen but Stallone wrote the entire script and still talks about the film from time to time. Way back in 2005 he said he was going to direct the movie and that Robert Downey Jnr would play Poe.
Film review come next with Rattlers given a thumbs up as is exploitation pic, The Axe.
The Peter Cushing interview comes next:

I don’t mind being a horror film star. To complain would be like socking the gift horse in the mouth” Peter Cushing.

The interview covers over five pages and makes for an interesting read. Cushing tells all about his early life as well as his days as a superstar in the Hammer movies and about appearing in the recent hit, Star Wars.
House of Hammer always had a lively letters page and reading the page in this issue is a hoot – N. Clarke of London claims that HOH is the best horror magazine on the market, and David Last of Canada agreed and requests a feature on David Prowse who played the monster in Horror of Frankenstein and also filled the Darth Vader suit for Star Wars. The centre pages are made up of a feature on horror movie, Communion which sounds interesting here, but we as we now know turned out to be a bit of a bore.
Then we have the first part of a feature on the history of Hammer Films written by Bob Sheridan. This issue covers the years 1935 – 1956, starting with the formation on the company and ending on the production The Curse of Frankenstein. The final pages of the mag are taken up by another comic strip – Van Helsing’s Terror Tales, which was an anthology series of complete horror tales.

That’s fifty plus pages and all for the price of 35p, which would have made the magazine out of range for me at the time.  I was thirteen years old at the time and I seem to remember my newspaper round payed me 50p a week and by the time I picked up my regular comics and my Curlie-Wurly and bottle of Panda Pop, I didn’t have 35p left.

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