Castle of Frankenstein is an American horror, science fiction and fantasy film magazine, distributed by Kable News and published in New Jersey from 1962 to 1975 by Calvin Thomas Beck’s Gothic Castle Publishing Company.
Although promoted and sold as a “monster magazine,” the readers were aware that Castle of Frankenstein, at the time, was the only nationally distributed magazine devoted to a legitimate and serious coverage of ‘B’ movies.
After employment as an editor for publisher Joe Weider, Calvin Beck (1929–1989) entered the monster magazine arena in 1959 with his one-shot Journal of Frankenstein, which had only a small circulation. As an experiment, Beck printed part of the run on slick paper. After a hiatus and a title change, Beck returned with the debut issue of Castle of Frankenstein in 1962.
Beck claimed that since his magazine carried no outside advertising, there was no need for any standardized schedule, so issues were published whenever they were completed, leading to an erratic, irregular schedule. Distribution of issues also varied; while many well-stocked periodical outlets did not carry the magazine, some less-likely outlets (such as grocery stores) had copies available. In addition to its central focus on classic and current horror films, Castle of Frankenstein also devoted pages to amateur filmmakers and coverage of fanzines. Its advertising pages sold full-length silent feature films such as The Lost World and The Golem.
Inspired by the ratings and reviews of films in Cahiers du Cinéma, CoF introduced a similar rating system with the “Comic Book Council,” the first critical coverage of comic books to appear in a national magazine. Commentary and ratings of underground comics were juxtaposed with reviews of mainstream comics.
Another key feature was the “Frankenstein Movieguide,” an attempt to document all fantastic films seen on television with short “mini-reviews” written by future filmmaker Joe Dante (Piranha, The Howling, Gremlins). Unlike some genre commentators, these reviewers were not limited only to the monster-style films. Instead, the many brief and tightly-written fantasy film reviews per issue also covered experimental films and foreign art films. The capsule review format enforced brevity and economy to each review that served as an inspiration to many younger writers.
With new art and reprints of vintage fantasy art, the magazine published such artists as Aubrey Beardsley, Hannes Bok, Harry Clarke, Virgil Finlay, Jim Steranko, Wally Wood and Weird Tales illustrator Matt Fox. To cut costs, colour photos rather than paintings were used on the covers of issues six through 14. With issue 11’s cover photo of Leonard Nimoy, Castle of Frankenstein was the first magazine to feature Star Trek as a major cover story.
The magazine had a run of twenty-five issues, plus one annual (the 1967 “Fearbook”), and the final issue was published in 1975. Beck cancelled his magazine because he wanted to devote his energy to writing books. During its primary run of publication, Castle of Frankenstein outlasted the vast majority of monster magazines that filled the market for two decades, with the notable exception of Famous Monsters of Filmland.