Saturday, December 06, 2008

What Becomes A Legend Most?

It's a sad day in Horrorwood, Karloffornia. Forrest J. Ackerman has gone to another world. The distinct irony being that many would suggest that the founding editor of the pulp magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland spent most of his adult life in another world. Now he's really gone. I owe most of my early love of film to this man. Not only did I learn all about the illustrious canon of Universal horror films from the 1930's, but through the pages of FM I traveled back to the silent era of "Nosferatu" and "The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari." I learned about German expressionism before I had mastered my multiplication tables. I have Forry to thank for that. Or is that to blame?
No matter. It is what it is and what I became. His was the first magazine that I chose to subscribe to after hauling home numerous back issues from my friend's house. It was also the first magazine from which I read every word, cover to cover. I pored over the tiniest production details of "King Kong" and stared intently at the photos of Jack Pierce at work in his makeup studio. It was from this same publication that I learned about Hammer Studios, and eventually the new wave of creatures and demons that appeared began to appear in the seventies. Long before I was ever old enough to catch a single frame of "The Exorcist," I was filled with images of Linda Blair in fully-possessed mode, dripping pea soup from her chin.
I spent my pre-teen years imagining a career in the movies, working on the inevitable next installment of Planet of the Apes. Or maybe I could go work for Ray Harryhausen. Perhaps just skip all that and go straight to work as curator at the Ackermansion as some sort of tour guide or curator.
And why not? This was the guy who discovered Ray Bradbury. He was Isaac Asimov's literary agent. He coined the term "sci-fi." Uncle Forry, as he liked to refer to himself, wasn't just a publisher and purveyor of pop culture. He can be forgiven the horrible puns and the less-than-stellar roles in such grade-Z fare as "Dracula vs. Frankenstein." The man was larger than life. He was an institution and one of my first true-life heroes. I never wrote to "You Axed For It," or entered any of the amateur makeup contests, though Academy Award winner Rick Baker did, but I could have. That's the world that I grew up in, and now that chapter is closed. Good night, Forry, scary dreams.

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