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December 05, 2008


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Tony Dayoub

His magazine was, I feel, designed to launch one's imagination to places of awe and wonder. First there was the beautifully painted covers, then the b&w pictures inside of everything from little green men to Hammer horror to the finest of Lon Chaney's silent monsters.

I still appreciate his contribution to my love affair with movies, and though I did not know much more about the man, lament his passing.

R. Totale

He had a bit part in the 80's movie "Future War", which Mystery Science Theater did towards the end of the series. He got killed by a dinosaur. Or, as the bots put it, "A man got snapped at by a forced perspective puppet today". Before he is dispatched by the deadly puppet, he is shown reading "Famous Monsters of Filmland".

bill r.

I wish I had more thoughts on Ackerman, because I came into the world too late for "Famous Monsters", and for the subculture that grew around it. But had I been born earlier, there's no two ways about it, I'd have been an avid reader. As I've gotten older, I've quietly, to myself, bemoaned not having been born earler, because I've been reading reminiscences about Ackerman such as yours pretty much since I've been reading, and I've always felt like I really missed out on something.

Even so, it can easily be argued that, as a lifelong fan of horror films and literature, I owe Ackerman plenty myself, even if I'm not always aware of it.

bill r.

Oh, also, I remember reading an article, roughly five years ago, about Ackerman, written by a young female journalist. She visited the Ackermansion for the story, and related the fact that Ackerman lightly slapped her on the rear, which, given Ackerman's age and general personality, she found endearing, or at least excusable. And for that, I tip my hat to him.

greg mottola

Famous Monsters, Starlog and Chiller Theater were sanity-preserving escapes for me in childhood. I can't wait for my son to be the age where we can watch 'Creature From The Black Lagoon', 'The Blob', any movie with zombies on an island and even 'Abbott & Costello meet Frankenstein' ... and pretend its just for my son's entertainment.


Growing up in the early 70s, a big part of my childhood revolved around Warren Publications. I was a gigantic fan of FMoF and, though I've read that horror had hit its peak earlier and was actually heading toward a decline, I sure did not notice it. Even in a small town in Alabama, a kid could buy a copy of FMoF, Creepy, Eerie, or Vampirella, watch a local TV horror show, and dream of all those cool Captain Company products in the back pages - and still grow up to be somewhat normal. Those were the best of times, and Forrest primarily made them possible. Thanks for it all. You will be greatly missed.


My feelings are similar tp bill's-- I missed FMoF, but know the fantasy and sci-fi magazines I DID devour as a child (great shoutout to Starlog, Greg!) owe a lot to Ackerman. So I feel like I know his work though the work it influenced, and Glenn's excellent post makes me want to track down some back issues.

greg mottola

I also should've mentioned Fangoria!

Ed Hulse

FAMOUS MONSTERS had a profound influence on my life. It didn't just inspire me to seek out vintage horror films; it also instilled within me the desire to write about movies. I discovered FM in the early Sixties, just as the magazine was entering a short-lived "golden age" during which Forry largely abandoned atrocious puns and puerile jokes to lavish upon his favorite movies the serious and even scholarly treatment we felt they deserved. Around this time FM began covering horror-movie fanzines, and upon obtaining copies of such mimeographed journals as PHOTON and GARDEN GHOULS GAZETTE, some of my enthusiastic friends and fellow film buffs decided to publish their own zine (rather prosaically titled HORRORS) and at age eleven I became a published author. A year later I began contributing to the aforementioned PHOTON, HOUSE OF HORRORS, and several "crudzines" whose titles escape me. At fourteen, outfitted with a used mimeograph given to me as a Christmas present, I became the publisher of FANTASY WORLD, branching beyond horror movies to cover science fiction, comic books, and movie serials.

I never lost my enthusiasm for the stuff that thrilled me as a kid, and while still in college, after becoming an avid collector of 16mm prints, I became friendly with fellow hobbyists Sam Sherman and Bob Price, former Warren Publications employees who'd edited FM's sister publications SCREEN THRILLS ILLUSTRATED and WILDEST WESTERNS. Sam put me in touch with Forry, and while I can't say I was a close friend of the Ackermonster, we conversed several times via phone. In 1992, shortly after I moved to LA, I visited him at the Ackermansion and got the nickel tour. That day I became reacquainted with another visitor, a guy named Ron Borst, a fellow PHOTON contributor I'd first met a quarter-century before at the 1967 World Science Fiction Convention in NYC. Ron had moved to LA and owned a movie-memorabilia store in Hollywood. (A world-class collector of horror/SF paper, he later turned out a book titled GRAVEN IMAGES, a treasure trove of poster reproductions.) Seeing him again at the Ackermansion was a real treat, and we kept in touch thereafter.

I moved back east in '94 but saw Forry several more times in the years that followed. He always retained his sense of wonder and his boundless enthusiasm for science fiction and horror -- even during the bleak period that found him locked in battle with Ray Ferry.

To me, FAMOUS MONSTERS wasn't just a magazine. It was a doorway to an entire world, a secret password that enabled me, and others like me, to network with an entire generation of people who shared my interests and passions. Forry made that possible.

Ian W. Hill

The amount of love and loss expressed at FJA's death all over so many film/culture blogs/sites is truly moving. Glenn, your story could be mine, or so many others', as it turns out. I didn't know how MANY of us started as monster kids.

It's a good time to go back and look at the tributes also paid to him on his 90th birthday when FLICKHEAD hosted a Blog-a-thon in his honor here:


My own small contribution to which is here:


So much love for this man. I hope he realized, even just a little bit, what he did for so many of us.

Ed Hulse

He DID realize, Ian, and took great joy in it.

Richard Arbib

I first read FAMOUS MONSTERS when I was a kid in the 1960's. From the late 1970's continuing through the present, I've been collecting VAMPIRELLA comics, having just received one of the books in the mail a few days ago. In the past few years, I've written two vampire novels that I'm trying to get published. Certainly, Forrest Ackerman's Vampirella character influenced many people, including me.

Stephen Whitty

Thanks so much for this, Glenn.

Honestly, "Famous Monsters of Filmland" -- for all its bad puns and silly phrasemaking (was it Peter Lorre who it dubbed "The Lord High Minister of All That Is Sinister") was a huge influence on an entire generation.

And not just the Spielbergs and Jacksons who went on to make fantasy films but those of us who, as others have said, read its stories and began to realize that there was a difference between a James Whale movie and a Tod Browning one, a Hammer picture and an AIP. Or even such a thing as a censored sequence (FM was the first to detail the "spider pit" scene from "King Kong") or a lost film, like "London After Midnight."

We didn't know he was teaching us the basics of movie history. But he did, and he did it well.

I remember being a snotty teen and eventually giving up on FM as being juvenile (unlike, of course, Castle of Frankenstein and Cinefantastique). But which magazine do I now look for in second-hand shops, and spend hours happily paging through?

Wrote his obit this morning. Talked to Ray Bradbury, who was still upset, and Ray Harryhausen, who hadn't yet heard. And that REALLY sucked.

But not as much as my years from age 9 to 13 or so would have without FM.

Pete Apruzzese

I don't have much to add to the above comments; Mr. Whitty, in particular, capturing my feelings almost perfectly.

RIP, Forry.

Joseph Failla

There's never been any question that fantasy and horror films were the birth of my movie obessions. But Forrest J. Ackerman's Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine was the lightning rod that brought it all home for me in a way that was attractive (colorful cover art work), informative (how great to discover who Lon Chaney Sr. was!) and addictive (every issue packed with plenty of b&w photos, both from the films and behind the scenes). It was definitely aimed at kids but that was it's genius and lasting gift. I'm still amazed I knew who Todd Browning was before I learned about Orson Welles. For a kid to long to see the lost silent LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT, at a time when all he had access to was afternoon television is pretty unheard of.

I saw my first still from a Fritz Lang film in the pages of FM, it was a shot of the dragon from SIEGFRIED and it looked as realistic as I could imagine, I immediately tried to figure out how they made it work. And I can't tell you how I felt seeing the surviving remnants of KING KONG's spider pit sequence, or the only recognizable pics of James Arness in full THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD regalia, let alone all those Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen original art sketches before I understood the animation process. I vividly remember the concept drawings for an unmade O'Brien project KING KONG VS. PROMETHEUS, which I still regret never saw the light of day in the form presented.

One of my favorite articles was a piece on the 50 worst horror movies ever made called "Dante's Inferno", written by a teenage Joe Dante. This is where I first read about PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, I don't remember it's ranking but he said Tor Johnson rising from the grave was the best thing about it. Not a bad job of reporting, because when I caught up with PLAN 9 so many years later, this bit of early film criticism ran through my mind during that very scene.

Although I never made it to LA to tour the famed Ackermansion, I did get to meet the great man himself at a local collector's convention. As this would be my one opportunity to explain how important his magazine and devotion to fantastic films had been to me, I felt a little inhibited. Once we began talking however, I could tell any apprehension I had wasn't necessary, he was gracious and every bit the old friend FM lead me to believe. At the time, I was contributing to a mystery and nostalgia film magazine which FJA was also associated with. I pointed out how proud I was that both our names appeared reguarly under the same letterhead. It certainly was something I never thought possible while I was reading FM during those days when we first learned about the films, stars and legends that would occupy so much of our time and influence us throughout our lives.

For a good look at FJA's legacy, I recommend Criterion's EQUINOX special edition dvd, a low budget special effects wonder, with a video introduction by Forry. THE SCI-FI BOYS, an affectionate reflection on classic sci-fi with much input from FJA, Ray Harryhausen, Ray Bradbury, Roger Corman, John Landis, Rick Baker, Dennis Muren, Peter Jackson and others. RAY HARRYHAUSEN: THE EARLY YEARS COLLECTION shows exclusive footage of FJA with friends Harryhausen and Bradbury reminiscing fondly over their lives spent pursuing their dreams through a common love of all things sci-fi and fantastic.

Dennis Cozzalio

Glenn: Thanks for this moving tribute to Mr. Ackerman. I was able to visit the Ackermansion and finally meet the man in 1998, and the videos I took on the occasion are part of my own tribute, which can be found here:


I hope those who never got to visit in person will enjoy seeing the man in his element in these tapes.

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