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Forrest J. Ackerman: RIP

~ Volume 12, Issue 12 / December 2008 ~




On December 4th, 2008, the world of fantastic cinema lost its most venerable ‘fan,’ a person who influenced a whole generation of movie monster fans, artists, filmmakers, and, most directly perhaps, magazines, Forrest J. Ackerman, or as he was affectionately known, 4E, Uncle Forry, Ackermonster, and other monsterish ‘pun’ishing names. The obituaries for Ackerman have been filling both print and electronic sources, recounting the many facts behind a person whose unabashed passion for fantastic cinema touched thousands of people whom he never met (not counting the thousands of others that he met at fan conventions or as an always welcome host at his once famous mansion (the Ackermansion) filled to the brim with the world’s largest collection of film memorabilia, including film props (like the original Maria robot from Metropolis, Bela Lugosi’s Dracula ring), posters, one-sheets, books, magazines, movie stills, records, toys, masks, tapes, etc. Ackerman of course is best known for starting the first and at one time longest running monster movie magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, but was an important literary agent to many science fiction and fantasy writers, an author, actor (mainly cameos), producer, and overall ambassador and promoter of all things science fiction, fantasy and horror. I was one of the legion who grew up collecting and devouring each new issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland, and though I haven’t read one in years, I treasure them for the memories they contain. This issue is dedicated to FJA, and my personal tribute comes in my lead off piece entitled “My Letter to Forry,” but as an addendum to my tribute, I’ve come up with an ‘anti’ end-of-the-year list in the spirit of Ackerman, who was so immersed in the world of the fantastic that I often wondered if he ever took or had the time to watch a non-fantastic film! And since Forry was not one to follow trends or care about release dates for films he would lavish attention on, my list is of the top ten ‘fantastic’ films that I SAW for the first time in 2008, but that were not necessarily released in 2008 (hopefully Ackermonster approved). The list appears at the end of “My Letter to Forry”. Filling in the rest of the issue, Offscreen welcomes Vito Adriaensens with his well-researched, insightful essay on the little known animated clown character Ko Ko. As a hangover from last month’s FanTasia issue, Totaro and Peter Rist interview Kim Hee-Jeon of the Korean film and media company CJ Entertainment. In keeping with the FanTasia spirit is (also) first-time writer Rodney Perkins’ overview of the Pink Film retrospective at the Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. And concluding the issue is Philip Gillett’s festival report on two British festivals, the newly minted English Riviera International Comedy Film Festival, and the venerable (22nd) Leeds International Film Festival. (Donato Totaro, ed.)


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