Requiescat in pace, Forrest Ackerman
It’s a sad day for horror movies fans as we mourn the death of Forrest Ackerman, who passed away yesterday at the age of 92. Ackerman, known as “Uncle Forry,” was the founder of Famous Monsters of Filmland, the first fan magazine for science fiction and horror, once considered along with comic books to be responsible for a generation of junkies and degenerates. Ackerman owned one of the largest collections of sci-fi/horror memorabilia in the world, including Bela Lugosi’s cape from Dracula, turning his home into an open museum for anyone who wanted a tour.
Famous Monsters of Filmland was in very limited circulation by the time Yr. Pal was an eager little creepshow nerdling, so unfortunately I never got a chance to read it. However, if not for Famous Monsters the still-published Fangoria and Rue Morgue wouldn’t exist, Stephen King and the creators of Mystery Science Theater 3000 wouldn’t have had much of the inspiration that got their careers off the ground, and certainly new generations of splatter flick and werewolf movie fans wouldn’t have anywhere to get their fixes. Horror/sci-fi remains to this day the refuge of the hopelessly geeky and the disenfranchised; if not for the internet we’d still have to be sneakily stealing peeks at the magazines in the aisles of our local Rite Aid, as shifty and embarrassed as if we were trying to hide porn under our coats, only instead of centerfolds of naked women they contain full-page spreads of decapitated zombies. The internet now makes it perfectly okay to have discussions over what the best death in the Friday the 13th series was (in my opinion it’s a tie between the party favor jammed in the eye in Part VII and the guy who gets his head punched off in Jason Takes Manhattan), but for a very long time those kinds of conversations were reserved for secret after school meetings with your zit-faced, awkward friends, lest you risk getting a wet willie or an Indian rope burn from one of the cooler kids. Forrest Ackerman was the first to create a magazine exclusively for the ceaselessly loyal, profoundly dorky fellow fans of the movies and stories he enjoyed so much. As one of those people, I say thank you, Forry, and God bless you.