Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Moment of Silence, Please...

It's been a rough year for the Doctor... at least as far as the death of geeky idols are concerned.

Back in February, the Great Dungeon Master hisself - Gary Gygax died. Gary G. was the creator of Dungeons and Dragons, and the architect of every weekend of my high school and college life, and left a huge geekish whole in my nerdy universe.

This last week, another childhood great passed on. Forrest J. Ackerman - the inventor of the term 'Sci-Fi', the man who singlehandedly discovered and agented Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, and the collector and owner of the largest Sci-Fi and Horror memorabilia collection in the world - sadly passed away in his California home.

Now I apologize to my more casual readers, but in the horror and science fiction world, Forrest J. Ackerman is the equivalent of royalty.

I remember; as the odd, quiet, and burgeoning serial killer child I was; riding my bike to my local comic book store - Comics & Collectibles in Shoregate (in my boyhood hometown of Willowick)-and buying my monthly issues of The Amazing Spiderman, Peter Parker: the Spectacular Spiderman, the X-Men, and Captain America comics. At that same time though, I was buying other things that weren't necessarily approved by my mom.

My mother had no clue about my darker collection of monthly magazines.

And no, it wasn't porn.

It was copies of Amazing Stories, EC Weird Tales, and Forrest J. Ackermans Famous Monsters of Filmland. You see, while I was digesting my fair share of superhero literature, I was also feeding my hunger for all things horror.

Every Friday nght, I would watch our local late night horror movie hosts.

First, it was Ghoulardi...

Then it was Big Chuck and Houlihan...

and then it was Big Chuck and Little John...

And, finally, I would get up every Saturday and watch Superhost on Channel 43.

Superhost - as you can see - was a guy dressed in tights who would show an hour of Three Stooges shorts at noon, then two back to back classic horror flicks in the afternoon. In this fashion; I would whet my appetite on 50's atomic monster movies, Hammer classics, Universal Monsters, and other various forms of horror.

It made me the undead evil scientist I am today!

And - during the week - I would devour Forrey Ackerman's Famous Monsters. I would lay in bed at night, my covers pulled over my head, and read about my favorite silver screen terrors by flashlight.

I can't tell you what was so great about Famous Monsters of Filmland. It was often stories about classic movies that were already made, or interviews with actors long since dead, but it was just awesome. Later in life, I gravitated to the gory, more contemporary Fangoria... but Forrest J. Ackerman's Famous Monsters still held a special place in my heart.

I remember especially the ads in the back of it. I would have given my left arm for some of the things offered for sale in the back of Famous Monsters. The incredibly realistic and high quality Don Post masks were gorgeous and I coveted them all - imagining how, if I wore one of them for Halloween, I'd be the coolest kid in the school (Of course, in reality, I'm sure it would have made me even more creepy than I already was.)

And, the thing I wanted most, the thing I begged my mother for the money for and was resoundingly turned down about, was a silver coffin on a silver chain that contained REAL DIRT from Transylvania. Seriously! Actual soil from the Carpathian mountains where Dracula was from! How fucking cool would that have been! (And again, realistically, how much more creepy could I have been!)

Such an essential part of my childhood. And - truthfully - I think Forrest J. Ackerman is responsible for making me the horror geek I am today.

So... a moment of respective silence, please, for one of the true greats of the Horror and Sci-Fi genre.

Doctor Zombie is sad... I need to go down to my laboratory beneath the Midnight Theater of Terror and torture some college coeds. It's the only thing that will cheer me up!


glittergirl said...

i loved that comic book store at shoregate, and all those creepy magazines and horror anthologies.

and i LOVED those horror film hosts, although you forgot "the ghoul", who i believe is still producing a web show these days.

did you ever catch "the hilarious house of frightenstein"?

my mom was actually cool with me loving horror films and creepy comics, but she would not give me the money for the fake cast in the back of the comic books. (i wanted one so that i could skip gym class.) thanks to her i had to pretend to have a twisted ankle with an ace bandage!

come on, a cast would have been so much more dramatic!

Dr. Zombie said...

I didn't love the Ghoul as much as I did the others... part of it was the gratuitous frog abuse. I had a sofft spot for the poor set upon and frequently blown up froggy! : )

And "The Hilarious House of Frightenstein?!?" OMG - I thought I was the only person in the WORLD who remembered that show!It's the only show I remember my mother actually forbidding me to watch growing up. Something about inappropriate Canadian drug humor... I still watched it though!

God.. I sometimes REALLY miss the 70's...

glittergirl said...

i'm just glad you included big chuck and hoolihan! everyone forgets about poor hoolihan....

superhost was creepy. have you seen the youtube videos of his old show? there's one where he's doing a parody of the "bionic woman" that gives me nightmares.

did you ever happen to see fritz the night owl in columbus, OH? not sure if you ever visted anyone there in our college days. fritz was a different kind of horror movie host..

the frightenstein show was something i was obsessed with as a kid. my parents & grandparents let me watch what i wanted to, so i caught every episode of this show. and my awesome husband found me a DVD of the show for last xmas!!!

i love the canadians. SCTV & kids in the hall!

Anonymous said...

Glittergirl (et al):

I remember Fritz as well (OSU alum here). Spent many an interesting night watching The Eiger Sanction or The Clonus Horror for the 50th time instead of studying for classes.

Also watched Superhost, Ghoul, and Both versions of Big Chuck. Friday and Saturday were pretty cool in NE Ohio if you were a Sci-Fi/Horror Fan.

Later I enjoyed Joe-Bob (sp?) Briggs and his commentary on TNT.

Can't believe that many people in today's generation automatically condemn a movie if it is in B&W! Also, I really miss the entire concept of late night horror movies on Friday or Saturday night.

The last one I saw with any consistency was a lat night Friday night movie on Channel 8 in Eau Claire, WI. They have long since stopped the practice and I don't know if the channel is still there.

Form Dark Rides to horror/SF movies with hosts, we have lost something in our culture. Appreciate the posts.

Jace (