The past is a different country

XeroxferoxIt’s hard to believe now, but there was a time, just a couple of decades ago, when British horror fans risked criminal prosecution simply for possessing videotapes of movies which are now readily available on Blu-ray from reputable high street retailers. The sheer absurdity of this draconian clamp-down helped fuel an explosion in the number of small press magazines devoted to the genre, many of which crossed my desk during the years I produced my monthly ‘Fanzine Focus’ column for The Dark Side.

One of the other magazines I wrote for back then was Headpress (“The Journal of Sex Religion Death”), whose publishing wing eventually grew to incorporate a range of film guides and cultural analyses. Among 2013’s releases was John Szpunar’s Xeroxferox: The Wild World of the Horror Film Fanzine, a selection of interviews with key players on both sides of the Atlantic — myself included, although that hasn’t biased my favourable opinion of its value as a revelatory window into social attitudes during a particularly oppressive period in this country’s cultural history.

Separated at birth?

I’m currently watching Odeon Entertainment’s excellent Blu-ray release of The Blood On Satan’s Claw (1971)*, wherein Linda Hayden’s demonic possession manifests itself in her sprouting bizarre bushy eyebrows. Hold on, I thought, could that mean model / actress Cara Delevingne has struck a similar deal with the Great Beast?

Eyebrows

*(Odeon is currently offering a triple-disc deal for The Blood On Satan’s Skin, Witchfinder General (1968) and The Blood Beast Terror (1968), all three on Blu-ray for £30. Word to the wise: availability is extremely limited.)