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Sadly, Forrest J. Ackerman has left us


Famous Monsters of FilmlandForrest J. Ackerman, founder of Famous Monsters of Filmland, monster maker, dream maker for thousands of fans in the '60s and '70s, and the godfather of modern fandom, died this weekend at 92. It's hard to overstate the impact of Forry and his magazine. It was the only magazine at that time devoted to horror and science-fiction movies and TV, and considering this was 30 years before the advent of the the Internet and DVDs, that means Famous Monsters was the only source period for horror and sci-fi info.

Each issue had a garishly colored cover of a classic movie monster surrounded by bold headlines in lurid typeface. The black-and-white content contained behind-the-scenes features and retrospectives about the Universal epics from the '30s, the AIP B-movie treats of the '50s, the then-current releases of Hammer, the new Vincent Price "Poe" movies, and everything in between, even TV shows like Dark Shadows. As a kid in the '60s, I ate up every issue. Famous Monsters introduced me to the Phantom of the Opera, the Werewolf of London, the Metaluna Mutant, and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. It was an icon of a much more innocent time in fandom, before splatter films, when nitpicking continuity flaws didn't exist and when unrestricted enthusiasm for film was rewarded.

And no one was more enthusiastic that Forry himself. His "Ackermansion" was the Shangri-La of fandom. He collected books, models, and icons from just about every horror or sci-fi movie ever made, and every weekend he opened his doors to fans who wanted to see this treasure-trove. When some of his fans became filmmakers, they happily sent him material to add to the halls of the Ackermansion. (It's a shame that as Forry grew older, he was forced to sell some memorabilia to keep his home intact.) Steven Spieldberg, John Landis, Tim Burton, Joe Dante, and Peter Jackson are among the many directors who cite the influence that "Uncle Forry" had on their careers and imaginations.

Famous Monsters of Filmland blazed a trail that was followed by the much-missed Monster Times, Starlog, and just about every high-quality fanzine ever published, along with scores of websites like Ain't It Cool News, Dark Horizons, and CHUD. Thanks for all the monsters, Uncle Forry! I owe you a lot, too.

Check out the tributes on TIME, The Los Angeles Times, and the official Famous Monsters site, and from Peter Jackson.

This weekend, we lost two more people with ties to the genre: Beverly Garland, who starred in a "Creature Feature" favorite, Not of This Earth, and Nina Foch, who as a translucently beautiful 20-year-old was menaced by Bela Lugosi himself in 1944's Return of the Vampire, in which Bela is essentially defeated by a fortuitous Nazi air raid during the London blitz!

A sad weekend for film fans.