For those of you who have taken the time to read my bio on this blog you will know that I am a ‘Monster Kid” from way back. We face the fact that information is at our fingertips now with this wonderful tentacle entwining, tube filled creature called the internet. How easy it is to follow what the genre has to offer – both good and bad – with the right terms into a search engine. This is not a lament for the old ways; nor is it a condemnation of what this rapid retrieval system has to offer.
Years ago, it was about magazines and books. It is still is in some cases. I had the opportunity to visit a brilliant bookshop called STRAND on a recent trip to New York City. Ebooks are excellent for getting people to read as they make it convenient and cool to be seen holding up a device. There is nothing like the heft of the printed word in your hands as you cradle a volume be it from the library or bookshop. The important action is to engage the mind whatever way possible.
I hear you muttering, “What does all this have to do with horror?” Nostalgia for the magazines I see in shops now. Large glossy photos of some current film or the opposite end of the scale the almost fanzine look of some ‘classic horror’ papers crammed full of little print designed for those with good eyesight and the patience of Imhotep to read all the material.
Today’s Monster Lover gets their fix from digital editions available free or through payment site. Some of these offer “enhanced” enhanced extras with interviews and clips to be replayed again and again. It is a far cry from trundling to the nearest store in the snow to see if they have put out the latest copy of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, CREEPY, EERIE, MODERN MONSTER, VAMPIRELLA. Those black and white photos coupled with silly captions were the only connection to the classic and new film releases.
I purchased a slightly crappy dub of a film called HORRORWOOD which featured Forest J. Ackerman (Uncle Forry or Dr. Acula depending on who was speaking from his type writer) about FM in its formative years. Ackerman made us remember that ‘LON CHANEY SHALL NOT DIE’ ,‘LUGOSI LIVES ETERNAL’ and ‘KARLOFF IS KING’. FM magazine was the gateway that kept these elements of film history from being forgotten, adding momentum to the “monster boom” of the early sixties.
FM was glorious yet frustrating in some ways as being in Canada one could not order anything from Captain Company in the back of each issue. What self respecting Monster Kid would not want a “Full head Frankenstein” monster mask, or the “Screaming Skull?” Who would not want to own eight mm or subsequent super 8 mm fifteen minute versions of your favourite films? Long before home video came on the screen.
As a side note to this I did not learn about the lonely, short, tragic life of Dwight Frye in Famous Monsters but instead from a short run magazine called FOR MONSTERS ONLY produced by people who did the MAD magazine rip off “CRACKED” Those school nights of staying up late to watch programs like HORROR HOUSE which came on after the NEWS and HULLABALOO which was a music show plus A GO GO 66 with Robbie Lane and the Disciples as hosts (my first taste of rock and roll) at least where I was in Ottawa.
Memories of finding LP records in Friemans Department store of THEMES FOR HORROR MOVIES with Dick Jacobs and his Orchestra. I still have the copy in its original sleeve on Coral Records. This is not to be confused with today’s release of the same record which does not include the graveyard comedy intros to each selection by Mort Good. I was also lucky to find a copy of “AN EVENING WITH BORIS KARLOFF AND HIS FRIENDS” in the delete bin when they has such things in record shops for three dollars. That record was the first time I heard Bela Lugosi speak since I had to wait years to see FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA on the big screen in a double bill for three fifty.
Horror fans today have a lot to choose from as the genre has fragmented more than Christopher Lee destruction on any of the Dracula films. You have conventions, you have magazines, you have stars, directors and writers on Twitter that talk directly to fans. It is a changing landscape which shifts like something out of a story by William Hope Hodgson or Algenon Blackwood. It is filled with new ideas that blossom everyday which are communicated at the rattle of a keyboard.
I would very much like to recommend the site called simply THE CLASSIC HORROR FILM BOARD. It is a literate, free billboard site with many discussions on both film and literature. I cannot say enough about it and encourage people both alive and undead to join.
THE CLASSIC HORROR FILM BOARD link
This is by no means a wishing for the good old days of Horror fandom when you had to get your material differently. Instead it is a pleasant journey or as the closing song for long gone and perhaps forgotten monster Saturday Morning cartoon MILTON THE MONSTER said ‘ Now let’s take a creepy trip down Horror Hill. Beware of the dangers along the way or you might take a spill.” Ha and we haven’t even touched those cartoons yet. Enjoy the ride.