Famous Monsters of Filmland

I rarely pick up an autobiography, but Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ is mentioned in just about everything I’ve ever read about becoming a writer.

‘Ask anybody who has been associated with the fantasy-horror-science fiction genres in the last thirty years and you’ll get a laugh, a flash of the eyes and a stream of bright memories – I practically guarantee it.’

(Quote Stephen King On Writing, Hodder & Stoughton Ltd)

My memory is:

Printed in the USA, only one newsagent in my area would ever stock it. Even then, they infrequently acquired copies and these were anything up to a year behind the American release date. I’d trail up there at least once a week, walking past a half dozen other magazine shops in the hope that they’d have an edition stuffed in the rotating metal magazine rack.

borisPossibly its naive, but I thought I was one of the few who still even remembered the magazine. A quick google revealed an entire world of fans. Will I plunge in to re-purchase long disposed of magazines at extortionate prices?


I do recall a friend discovering that the cover made an excellent paper dart, far more robust than the typing paper we’d been using. I could now weep at the wanton destruction we carried out in our search for aeronautical excellence!

Besides nightmares, what did it give me?

aurora2Although I was too young to be allowed into the cinema to see the films it discussed, I read it from cover to cover, envious of our American cousins. Not only could they see these films, but also got all of the models to build and effects they could buy. Yes, I now know how tacky the items advertised in the magazine really were, but it was magical to a young me.

I certainly remember The Model Shop in Manchester starting to stock the Aurora range of monster models. I just never managed to build one that looked anything like as good as the box artwork did.

Does it still influence my writing?

I suspect a love of the older style horror story was born out of this magazine. I enjoy the James Whale style cinematography: Twisted angles, deep shadows, hands reaching into the camera. In my mind I see my scenes shot in this way.
More than the scenes in my head, I suspect it was the first time I’d been absorbed into another world. It was several years before I picked up a book to read for pleasure. Thanks to my teachers, I thought reading was a torture only inflicted under pain of death until I discovered Lord of the Rings.
So, the first absorbing read, plus a head full of special effects not created by CGI. Yes, I owe the magazine a debt.

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