|Pop Culture Gadabout|
Saturday, December 06, 2008 |
( 12/06/2008 09:52:00 AM ) Bill S.
FORRY: Reading of the recent death of Forrest J Ackerman couldn't help but bring back memories of my boyhood. I was just the right age to key into his Famous Monsters of Filmland back when it began ('58), and I was an avid reader of the mag for through most of my elementary school years.
The magazine provided decent basic schooling for this budding monster movie fan: I particularly remember a piece by horror writer Robert Bloch talking about monumental moments in old-fashioned horror flicks (the unveiling of Lon Chaney's Phantom, the legless/armless man crawling through the mud in Freaks, etc.) that had me eager to seek these flicks out. (Only one that took a long time to get to was Freaks, which wouldn't really find audience in America until the Midnight Movie phenom broke.) Many of the articles in FM were fluff – pun-packed p.r. pieces for genial drive-in hacks like Bert ("Mister B.I.G.") I. Gordon – but Ackerman's exhaustive collection of stills and classic posters were plenty evocative in a day when classic horror flicks were largely relegated to Friday night post-primetime airings.
At some point in my 'tween years, I graduated from Ackerman's mag to its more critical and serious competitor, Castle of Frankenstein (home to writers like William K. Everson, Bob Stewart and a young Joe Dante). I began to look down upon the more gee-whiz fan-stylings of Ackerman the writer/editor. I stopped reading FM and its spin-offs, though I remember occasionally coming across his writing in the introductions to paperback sci-fi collections. Now that I've outgrown my adolescent snobbishness*, I can appreciate Ackerman for all that he revealed to this horror film junkie.
UPDATE: Johnny Bacardi has a similar reaction on learning of Forry's passing.
*A process that took over forty years to complete.