Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The House of Horror Ruled!

The cover artist of (Hammer's) House of Horror #19 is Ramon Sola, and what a stunning piece of work he's produced; it's like a marriage of Boris (Vallejo) and Frazetta (Frank).

The original title of the mag was The House of Hammer. Its primary focus was Hammer Films. Each issue featured a comic adaptation of a Hammer film and a slew of fascinating articles.

When I picked up each issue at the newsagent, I'd flip straight to Tony Crawley's 'Media Macabre' section. Crawley could always be relied on for interesting items on upcoming fright fare from Europe, Britain, and the US.

I was also an avid Famous Monsters collector, but I never read FM for the articles; I liked the stills and 'Captain Company' ads. House of Hammer/House of Horror/Halls of Horror, like Cinefantastique, took the genre pretty seriously, and, also like Cinefantastique, gave equal time to obscure Euro treasures.

In this issue, the comic adaptation is John Gilling's The Reptile, released in '66 by Warner-Pathe in Britain and 20th Century-Fox in the U.S.

These three scans are a sampling of the love and detail afforded these adaptations.

Pre-VHS, this was the only way to "own" Hammer's little classic.

Artist was Brian Lewis, who'd painted a selection of covers for the mag.

This issue featured Part 2 of a Hammer history, focusing on the exciting years '57 and '58, which saw production of the great The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas (with script by Nigel Kneale)...

and Val Guest's truly special The Camp on Blood Island, a WWII drama/actioner that became a huge box office hit -- probably because it depicted the Japanese military as such cold, vicious cunts.
.Love this rare poster art; the British DVD, unfortunately, did not use it, choosing instead to use a cheesy still.

Pre-home video, collecting truncated versions of your favorite films on Super-8 was a passion of many.

I remember visiting a friend of my father's one morning after church many years ago. I discovered a stash of Super-8's in his basement and was encouraged (by him) to check them out. For a period of two hours, I marveled at the sci-fi and horror titles he owned, finding dozens of new ones every time I cleared the ones I'd already seen.

At bottom left (above) is a very rare still from Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; the article suggests that a 35mm print could be had for around $175.

Most Super-8 versions of genre pics retailed for around $50.

This friend of my father's probably didn't count on me finding his collection of Color Climax Super-8's.

Featuring gloriously lurid covers with titles such as Teenage Sex, Hot For Cock, Fuck My Arse (English spelling), Danish Hard Core and Blue Climax, my Sunday morning, pre-church head was spinning. I'd never seen any hardcore in my life, so this was a mighty awakening, and not an awakening I regretted.

Only years later would I learn that Color Climax Corporation (CCC) was a pioneer in the world of hardcore material, not afraid or ashamed to describe itself as "The Biggest, The Best, and the Most Pornographic!"

It was a company that portrayed sex as fun.

Rear cover of House of Horror # 19 is this magical The Reptile poster. Looks very Jess Franco to me.

In '77, the same publishers launched Starburst, a mag more focused on science fiction in cinema and television. After the demise of Halls of Horror (which was its final title), Starburst did incorporate horror items also; the mag still survives.

It's sad to reflect on the possibility that paper magazines like House of Horror, Famous Monsters, and Fangoria may be tomorrow's dinosaurs.

Pornography is always an accurate indicator of where media is going; pornography usually gets there first. With a few exceptions, all the successful European hardcore magazines such as Color Climax and Private now exist only in on-line form. I fear the non-pornographic may soon follow.


  1. Excellent artiicle. Hammer House of Horror is the greatest comic/magazine of all time, IMHO. I still own a few copies, but have failed to find the first issue.

  2. Gary Mc -- thanks for stopping by, Gary. Sounds like we share great affection for Hammer's House of Horror. I have every issue, so I will feature it in a future blog. Many writing and directing commitments right now, so I don't have quite as much time to blog (I'll do my best, though).

    BTW, I enjoy your work very much.

  3. So much greatness to digest in one post. I especially love that Reptile artwork. Thanks!

  4. The Color Climax scans are too small :(

  5. d -- yeah, THE REPTILE art is amazing.


    The Randomist -- yes, they're much too small. Problem is, I didn't scan them (they'd be huge if I did). I remembered what I discovered that day and searched for them on the web. These are what I found.