Friday, March 27, 2009

Famous Monster Scribe up for Writing Award

Ian Johnston, centre.
That's Scream Queen Bobbie Bresee and her husb
and, Frank. Mr. Oldtime radio himself - in their Hollywood home.

Famous Monster co-creator/writer Ian Johnston has been nominated for a Writers Guild of Canada award for Best Unproduced Screenplay for his comedy feature "The Big Crack-Up".

Johnston (R) and Dan Roebuck at Roebucks's own Horror Museum

This is Ian's second WGC nomination in this category. The award will be presented at the Canadian Screenwriting Awards April 20th in Toronto.

The Other Paper reviews Famous Monster

Turning fandom into a lifestyle

Click image to enlarge
Obsessed by monsters: Forrest J Ackerman devoted his life to science fiction and horror films
Obsessed by monsters: Forrest J Ackerman devoted his life to science fiction and horror films

A biography of the original "fanboy" will be screened during the Drexel's annual sci-fi film fest

By Richard Ades
Published: Thursday, March 26, 2009 2:28 PM EDT
This weekend, the Drexel Theatre will once again host the Ohio 24-Hour Science Fiction Marathon, its annual tribute to Tribbles, Wookies and tales set in a world not quite our own.
Along with the usual assortment of old classics and new features, the festival will include a documentary that’s appropriate for the expected crowd of sci-fi fans, as it’s about the man known as the greatest fan of all time. In fact, he may have been the original “fanboy,” said TV writer Ian Johnston, one of the two Canadians who made the flick.

Famous Monster: Forrest J Ackerman is about the late “Forry” Ackerman, a journalist and literary agent who took his favorite film genre so seriously that in 1939 he became the first known person to show up for a sci-fi convention in costume.

“You can’t forget about that significance—’39, for God’s sake,” said Johnston.

As a result, said Michael MacDonald, the film’s director and producer, the documentary is not only about Ackerman but about the celluloid-worshiping lifestyle he helped to popularize.

“You can’t separate the two,” MacDonald said. “Through Forry, we celebrate fandom.”
Speaking on the phone Monday from Toronto and Halifax, respectively, Johnston and MacDonald explained how two Canadians came to make a film about the man whose devotion to science fiction is credited with helping to turn it into a mainstream phenomenon.
He’s the guy, in fact, who turned science fiction into sci-fi, reportedly coining the nickname back in 1953.

“I first met Forry back in the early ’90s,” said Johnston, who was writing for the fan magazines Fangoria and Cinefantastique at the time.

Ackerman had served as editor of his own fan magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmdom, from 1958 to ’82, and he remained active in the sci-fi and horror fields into the ’90s. Johnston said Ackerman organized two “Famous Monster” conventions, in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. In addition, he owned a vast collection of film memorabilia that he gladly showed to anybody who dropped by the “Ackermansion,” his LA home.

In 2005, when MacDonald was making a movie about sci-fi cover art, Johnston suggested that he talk to Ackerman. However, Johnston had been out of touch with Ackerman and wasn’t even sure he was still alive. When MacDonald not only talked to Ackerman but included footage of him in his film, Johnston decided it was time to make a movie specifically about the legendary fan, who was then in his late 80s.

“I said, ‘We’ve got to go down and film this guy quick,’” said Johnston, who signed on as the project’s writer and interviewer. “Not to be crass or anything like that, but after you’re in your 80s, all bets are off.”

The resulting 48-minute documentary includes interviews with Ackerman and with some of the many filmmakers and other celebs who’ve been inspired by him through the years, including Roger Corman, Ray Bradbury, John Landis and Joe Dante.

It also includes reminiscences about people who are no longer around to speak for themselves, such as legendarily bad filmmaker Ed Wood, for whom Ackerman served as an agent. Johnston said Ackerman’s support of Wood had nothing to do with the quality of his work.

“He accepted anybody, almost, as an agent,” said Johnston. “He was very disparaging of Ed Wood.”'
“He said Ed Wood was a drunken voice on the other end of the phone at 2 o’clock in the morning,” added MacDonald.

Even so, Ackerman not only worked with Wood but remained his friend for years.
“Forry was always for the underdog,” said MacDonald.

He noted that Ackerman also befriended Bela Lugosi, the one-time Dracula who died partway through Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space, often cited as the worst film of all time. MacDonald said Ackerman and his wife once helped the down-and-out actor by taking him to get his shoes fixed.

“That’s so cool,” Johnston said. “Like, who fixes people’s shoes?”
Of course, Ackerman himself is the main character in MacDonald and Johnston’s film. They succeeded in interviewing him and even filming his 90th birthday, held at a Los Angeles eatery called House of Pies.

The world’s foremost authority on science fiction was not above delving into fiction when talking about himself, they admitted. One example was a story he liked to tell of an H.G. Wells book that supposedly was mailed to him during World War II, but which went down with a ship that was sunk by a German submarine. The book eventually rose to the surface, and he finally received it.
Later, however, Ackerman revealed that the story wasn’t true. Nor could it have been, as the book wasn’t published until five years after the war ended.

“There was a lot of crap around that you’re not really sure about,” said Johnston. “Like Clark, for God’s sake,” he added, referring to the middle name sometimes ascribed to Ackerman.

So why did Ackerman use the middle initial J, which was never followed by a period?
“I always got the impression that he did it ’cause that looked cooler or something,” Johnston said.

Ackerman died Dec. 4, proving that Johnston had been right to turn his film biography into a rush job. The movie—which already had been seen on Canadian TV and at a 2008 film festival in Huntington Beach, Calif.—was screened at a tribute gathering held March 8 at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre. Also on the bill was The Time Travelers, a 1964 film in which Ackerman made a brief appearance.

The older flick is again on the schedule for this weekend’s Drexel film festival, following the third public showing of Famous Monster. “We booked Time Travelers specifically because it has a cameo appearance by Forrest Ackerman in it,” said Drexel owner Jeff Frank, “We thought the audience would get a real kick out of seeing it.”

INFO: The 26th annual Ohio 24-Hour Science Fiction Film Marathon runs from noon Saturday to noon Sunday at the Drexel Theatre, 2254 E. Main St. Tickets are $33 in advance, $36 at the door. A “halfathon” featuring six films begins at midnight Saturday; tickets are $17 in advance, $20 at the door. 614-231-1050, or

The Other Paper

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fun and Imformative - DVD REVIEW DVD REVIEW!

"Famous Monster is a fun and informative bit of merchandise that should be of interest to even the most casual sci-fi or horror geek."

DVD Review: Famous Monster
Posted on 17 March, 2009 by Jonathan Melville

I like to think of myself as a pretty clued up fan of the sci-fi genre, wearing my geek colours on my sleeve as I watch the latest BSG or plan a visit to a screening of a classic Kubrick.

Watching Famous Monster, a documentary about the world’s most famous sci-fi fan (he even coined the term sci-fi!) Forrest J Ackerman, who died last December, I felt suitably humbled: my geek chic pales in comparison to this guy.

Born in 1916, Ackerman was a Los Angeles based writer who, among his many accomplishments, founded the science fiction genre, edited the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, was potentially the world’s greatest collector of sci-fi and horror memorabilia and was once present during a talk by HG Welles.

During filming in 2007, the makers of Famous Monster found a clearly frail Forry living in his Acker-mini-mansion (a much pared-down version of his once infamous shrine to film merchandise known as the Ackermansion) with much of his enthusiasm for the world of science fiction still intact.

Famous fans such as John Landis and Ray Harryhausen give their thoughts on the man while photos and clips of the Ackermonster in action keep things moving. Soundbites from both Ackerman and the talking heads give a decent overview of his life, though the brevity of the film at 48mins and the lack of some meatier interviewees - Spielberg and Lucas are mentioned but never seen - does mean it lacks a bit of punch.

As an introduction to a man who lived for his passion and happily passed on the torch to the younger fans, Famous Monster is a fun and informative bit of merchandise that should be of interest to even the most casual sci-fi or horror geek.

Thanks Johnathan!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Joe Moe recounts the Forrest J Ackerman Tribute in Hollywood

Other than mispelling my name, That's MacDonald, Joe! (Not like the infamous restaurant chain) Joe's recounting of the tribute is wonderful! Thanks Joe!

Note: Our trailer did not make the tribute section but we had over 400 souls watching the full documentary later in the evening, along-side Ib Melchior's, The Time Travellers! What a wonderful day. As Joe will tell you, Forry made it all happen. Regarding our Ackerman afterlife visitation, read our posting here!
Ackerman 000 Forry Speaks From the Grave!

Joe Moe: Horrorwood Babbles On: The Forrest J Ackerman Tribute

It was a Blood-Red-letter day for fandom as pros and fans alike gathered to bid a reluctant “Forry-well” to the late great genre-icon Forrest J Ackerman! Hollywood’s historic Egyptian Theatre served as a temple for the filled-to-capacity ritual sponsored by the American Cinematheque, Profiles in History auction house and the Ackerman estate.

Joe Moe: Horrorwood Babbles On: The Forrest J Ackerman Tribute: 3/08/09

Guests began waiting on line at around 1:00PM for the scheduled 3:00PM reception. By 2:30 over 200 bodies had congregated at the doors of the theater. Inside, staff was scrambling. Pieces of Forry’s collection were being displayed (A first edition of Dracula signed by Bram Stoker and almost everyone who ever played the famous Vampire on screen, Bela Lugosi’s Dracula cape and Forry’s fave prop: the “Robotrix” from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis). Caterers worked until the last minute putting finishing touches on the expansive Sci-Fi themed buffet. A huge globe of cauliflower punctuated a long table; kumquats ringed satellites of smaller melon-planets. A futuristic silver fountain streamed crimson punch. When the doors opened at 3:00PM, the line already extended up the few hundred feet of theater courtyard and down Hollywood Boulevard…

I suspect you’ll be hearing a lot of accounts like these from a lot of people for a long time to come. Many folks shared the experience of laughter, tears, loss and camaraderie on this remarkable day. I wish everyone in fandom could have been there. Many on-hand deemed it; THE BEST TRIBUTE EVER! Here’s my little peek behind the making-of the tribute.

Tragically, this triumphant story must begin with the loss of our beloved Uncle Forry Ackerman. Our ol’ guy reached the end of his 92-year run on this planet and he knew he was soon to make a final journey with Prince Sirki. One of the reasons I was so close to Forry is that I’d always talked straight with him and honored his wishes -- to the letter. He had lived a long life without anyone “managing” him. I wasn’t going to mess with that formula because his life was drawing to a close. Forry practically delighted in reminding me that he was an atheist and would die one. But he also promised that if he woke up in heaven, he would gladly take time out from his reunion with his wife Wendayne and conversations with Boris and Bela to send us a sign from “beyond.” In return, I promised not to hold a funeral service of any kind. Immediately I began nudging him to let me at least hold a memorial. Forry reacted as Frankenstein’s monster to fire, “Argh-grrrrr!” arms flailing! His silver spaceship-fin of hair stood at attention. OK, OK! No memorial! How about a “tribute?" Forry, gave me a begrudging shrug and finally a yes!

The Forrest J Ackerman Tribute: 3/08/09 (click for larger image)A few days later ... he was gone.

A devastating blow for our community. I was luckier than most. I could temper my grief with purpose. I had one more job to do for Forry: A tribute. Kevin Burns (many editions of A&E "Biography", "The Girls Next Door"), Forry’s longtime friend and executor of his estate, was supportive and trusting of me to throw a good party. John Landis (Schlock, An American Werewolf in London, Innocent Blood) called and suggested we hold the event at the Egyptian Theatre as he’d participated in other memorials (his word, not mine) there. Soon after, the Cinematheque agreed and we set our date: Sunday March 8th, 2009.

At that point, writer Dan Madigan (See No Evil) joined me and my close friend and director Tim Sullivan (2001 Maniacs, Driftwood) to spearhead the tribute. Tim is a talented director and his enthusiasm in fandom is notorious and infectious. Dan was busy with family and study but was there to back us up as we went forward. Most importantly, they both loved Forry. We reached out immediately to Forry-friends who might want to speak at the tribute. Tim got quick responses from John Landis, Rick Baker (6-time makeup Oscar winner) and Guillermo Del Toro (The Devil's Backbone, Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth). I heard back from Verne Langdon (Famous Monsters magazine regular, and Don Post Studios partner, ) who said he’d bring James Warren (original publisher of Famous Monsters of Filmland mag). There was the possibility of Gene Simmons (Kiss) dropping in to perform an acoustic rendition of an early song he’d written about Forry. Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade, Bad Santa) was contacted about participating. Already the roster was looking impressive.

We were excited but a little nervous. John Landis had taken a keen interest in the event and was (in his good-hearted but blustery custom) riding us - "What do you have planned? Who’s invited? What the fuck is going on?!" Everyone insisted this event be worthy of the memory of Dr. Ackula. Tim and I decided it should be an event populated by speakers who were not only celebrities but also old-time Forry friends and fans alike. We didn’t want to be overly ambitious in trying to create a performance, per se. Just a well-paced, multi-media tribute with heart-felt testimonials, video clips and maybe some music. Having planned and carried out countless Forry birthday bashes, I was confident that this event would take care of itself if we didn’t over work it. Landis was skeptical. I sent out a few hundred invitations and by the week of the tribute had received over 300 RSVP’s. The invite was available on Forry’s FaceBook page (not his friend yet? What are you waiting for?) and I’d gotten a good response from that posting as well.

By the weekend of the tribute, we’d assembled all of the media: Paul David’s (Timothy Leary's Dead, "Roswell") clip from The Sci-Fi Boys. A cameo reel originally assembled by Charles Henson for Ron Adam’s Monster Bash in PA, and a trailer for Famous Monster, a Canadian Documentary about Forry that had been made by Michael McDonald and Ian Johnston of Roadhouse Films. Finally, I had arranged a secret surprise intended to be shown at the end of the tribute. Sadly, at this point, Verne Langdon and James Warren dropped out of our line-up. Both Verne and Jim had sent me lovely e-mails explaining that they’d already said their good-byes to Forry and that they felt they’d given him a great tribute when they appeared together at Comic-Con in 2008. They respectfully decided they weren’t up to saying good-bye again. I understood, but they really deserved to be there to feel all the love fandom holds for them. On the bright side, we’d previously begged good pal and brilliant editor Jovanka Vuckovic (Rue Morgue Magazine) to speak and she agreed to lend her voice to the festivities.

The Forrest J Ackerman Tribute: 3/08/09 (click for larger image)On the day of the event, the Cinematheque staff was in full force, House manager Barry made everything run smoothly. All of our guests were confirmed. The lead-up to the tribute was a blur as all the set-up was hastily completed and eager friends and fans filed into the theater. Dan Madigan wrangled the lobby quite impressively while Tim Sullivan and I watched the clock and made sure all of our speakers were present. We’d managed to get everyone inside and the 600-seat house was filled to capacity. Familiar faces dotted the crowd: Ann Robinson (War of the Worlds), Ron Chaney, Carla Laemmle (Phantom of the Opera, Dracula), Angus Scrimm (Phantasm), Dan Roebuck (The Devil's Rejects, Rob Zombie's Halloween), Johnny Legend (2001 Maniacs), Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), Ogre (Skinny Puppy, Repo: The Genetic Opera), Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Spooky Dan Walker, Ryan Rotten (Shock Till You Drop), Kerry O’Quinn (Starlog, Fangoria), Feo Amante, Brinke Stevens (Transylvania Twist, Hell Night) Ryan Fleming (2001 Maniacs), Dave Parker (The Hills Run Red), David J. Skal (The Monster Show, Dark Carnival), Joe Pilato (Day of the Dead), Mike Mendez (The Grave Dancers) and many more. The legendary American filmmaker, writer and artist Kenneth Anger (Fireworks, Scorpio Rising, Hollywood Babylon) showed up in Kabuki makeup. Forry had had a falling out with Ken in recent years. Some friends were worried that he might make a scene, but I was happy he was there. Ken is an eccentric genius and he and Forry shared many more fond memories than acrimonious ones. He was a gentleman through the entire tribute.

The lights dimmed and Tim Sullivan took the podium.

Tim Sullivan: "Known to the world as one of the greatest living authors of our time for such science fiction classics as Fahrenheit 451 and the Martian Chronicles, to Forry our first speaker was simply known as “Best Friend”. Since their early childhood, Forry nurtured this gentleman’s career, forming a pattern of mentoring and cheerleading that has spanned generations. Ladies and gentleman, Ray Bradbury."

The Forrest J Ackerman Tribute: 3/08/09 (click for larger image)The audience stood, applauding wildly when Ray rolled up to the podium in his wheelchair. Ray spoke of Forry’s responsibility for his career. How when Ray was poor, selling newspapers on the street, Forry would pay for him to attend Sci-Fi events. As he’s said many times, “if there was no Forry there would be no Ray Bradbury.” The audience was reverent and somber as they listened to this icon lament the loss of his dear pal. Finally, Ray said, “Today I give you permission to be sad. I’m very sad.” and broke down in tears as he was taken back to his spot in the audience. We all held our breath through this, the first emotional speed bump we’d encountered at the tribute.

TS: "What can you say about John Landis that he won’t tell you himself? Ladies and gentlemen, John Landis!"

John Landis is one of Forry’s closest friends. Like family. He read a letter that Mick Garris ("Masters of Horror", The Stand) had received from Stephen King (The Shining, IT) which simply stated, “Tell em’ I love that man.” Next he read a letter from Ray Harryhausen (The Valley of Gwangi, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad) expressing how inspirational and supportive Forry had always been from the beginning of his friendship with he and Bradbury through mutual love of the movie King Kong, until the last days. Next, John talked about Forry’s presence in his own life as a budding filmmaker and his cameos in his own films over time. John cracked some Scientology jokes (Forry was L. Ron Hubbard's first agent).

TS: "A regular contributor to Starlog, Fangoria and nearly every genre publication in the country, not to mention the author of Keep Watching the Skies, our next speaker is a longtime friend of the Ackermonster, a fellow Hawaiian shirt aficionado, and one of the foremost authorities on the beginnings of the genre which Forry coined, Sci-Fi. Bill Warren."

The Forrest J Ackerman Tribute: 3/08/09 (click for larger image)Warren talked mostly about the early days of Sci-Fi. He started by asking for a show of hands to determine how many in the audience knew of Forry prior to his Famous Monster days? Very few hands went up. George Clayton Johnson ("The Twilight Zone", Logan's Run) was one. Bill talked about Forry’s early days in Sci-Fi and how he made others take the genre seriously. When Bill mentioned that, “Forry was more important to me than my own Father” he choked back tears whispering, “I can’t talk anymore” and quickly left the stage. All of us felt for him -- and with him.

TS: "Like many of our guests here tonight, our next speaker went from fan to filmmaker responsible for several feature films and award winning documentaries, including The Sci Fi Boys, the Saturn Award winning tribute to the original bat pack, FJA, Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen. Paul Davids."

Before showing a scene from his Forry documentary The Sci-Fi Boys, director Paul Davids spoke about the influence Forry had on monster-making kids who grew up to be monster-making pros. He then screened a clip of Forry eulogizing George Pal at Pal’s graveside. This was the first media clip of Forry and it was a little shocking to see him as the frail man he’d become toward the end of his life. Still, it was a comfort to see him and hear his reassuring voice once more.

TS: "An oft-time Forry collaborator on such coffee table volumes as WORLD’S OF TOMORROW and countless articles, our next guest is a prolific force in genre writing. His speculative novel, MOON OF ICE was a Prometheus Award winner. He can also be seen chewing up scenery right beside Forry in VAMPIRE HUNTER’S CLUB. Here he is, Brad Linaweaver."

Brad Linaweaver talked about his collaborations with Forry. Proudest among them was the hardcover coffee table book: Worlds of Tomorrow: Amazing Science Fiction Art which Brad held up for the whole audience to see. In a show of how even pros turn into little kids at the mention of Forrest Ackerman, Brad proudly displayed Forry’s autograph in his copy of their book. Brad also spoke of Forry’s willingness to participate in ANY genre project, big or small.

The Forrest J Ackerman Tribute: 3/08/09 (click for larger image)TS: "Our next speaker became a fan of monster films as a TV-addicted, insomnia-racked child in Toronto. She began writing for the Canadian horror mag Rue Morgue and was soon asked to take over as editor-in-chief, thus fulfilling the same function as FJA with Famous Monsters where she follows in his footsteps to this day. Jovanka Vuckovic."

Jovanka took the stage, fire-colored hair cascading, to represent the women of horror as well as the new generation of monster kid. She actually coined the term “Monster Grandkid” on the spot! She had traveled from Toronto with a large contingency of her crew. She compared Forry’s collection of monster paintings on his walls to her collection of monster tattoos that graced her arms. She knew how much her Halloween issue of Rue Morgue (with Forry’s Gogos portrait on the cover) had meant to him. She gave a terrific speech punctuated with deep emotion.

TS: "Forry claimed to have made 112 cameos in his lifetime. Here’s a montage of Forry performances created for Ron Adam’s MONSTER BASH convention by Charles Henson in 2008."

The reel was a bit of comic relief as the image of a healthy and happy Forry mugged and emoted through a montage of his performances; The Time Travelers, Aftermath, Innocent Blood, The Howling, Vampirella, interspersed with some candid videos of Forry looking every bit his charming, vibrant self. The soundtrack was the song “Bad Boy” as performed by the group Sha Na Na. On a side note, I’m proud to say that Forry made his last formal cameo in my own feature film Red Velvet.

TS: "As a monster- struck teenager, our next guest submitted an article to FM which Forry published in issue 18 entitled “Dante’s Inferno”, a list of Must NOT See horror flicks. Since then, he has made a career making Must SEE horror flicks including Small Soldiers, Gremlins and The Howling, the latter featuring Uncle Forry himself. Ladies and gentleman, Joe Dante."

Joe Dante contributed one of the most impactful speeches of the afternoon. Amidst personal anecdotes of how thrilling it was to see his first writings in print within the pages of Famous Monsters magazine, Joe made the statement that the loss of Forry was, “a final nail in the coffin of our childhood.” That proclamation resonated with everyone in the theater. Some were put off by its blunt severity and some felt it perfectly articulated their feelings. Nobody could deny it was a profound observation.

TS: "One of the legion of kids who grew up reading Famous Monsters, and ended up making famous monsters of their own, six time Oscar winner and one of Forry’s proudest creations, Rick Baker Monster Maker."

Another graduate of the University of Famous Monsters, Rick Baker spoke of Forry’s inspiration and guidance in his career. Rick wanted to be a medical doctor until he realized it was a makeup artist who actually made movie monsters! Rick was his usual humble and sincere self as he talked about Forry’s support of his work in the pages of FM. Forry’s magazine introduced Rick to the idea that monster making could actually be a job! Rick came to visit Forry in his final days. It was a relief to know that Rick had a chance to say good-bye and that Forry was able to tell him, once again, how incredibly proud he was of Rick’s accomplishments.

The Forrest J Ackerman Tribute: 3/08/09 (click for larger image)TS: "Such a super-fan that he had to open a second home to accommodate his comic book and memorabilia collection, with films such as The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy and the upcoming Hobbit he’ll have to open up a third home to accommodate all his awards. One of Forry’s most beloved monster kids, director Guillermo Del Toro."

Maestro Del Toro was his usual authentic, warm and funny self. He’d flown in from New Zealand where he was working on The Hobbit. He came straight from the airport to the tribute. He told the audience about his lonely childhood and how much Famous Monsters magazine had helped him get through it. He actually learned to speak English by reading FM (and MAD Magazine)! A young Guillermo wrote to Forry begging him to adopt him! While he’d asked to be moved earlier in the line-up because he had to leave early, he ended up staying to the very end and meeting and greeting some extremely grateful fans.

TS: "A Forry friend and confidant for more than two decades, the executor of his estate, our next speaker is an Emmy Award winning filmmaker and documentarian as well as the foremost collector of Munsters memorabilia in the world. He can also do an impression of nearly anybody and make you feel like you’re in the room with them. Ladies and gentlemen, Kevin Burns."

Kevin Burns is a terrific friend of Forry’s. He’s one of those quiet folks who seemed to appear in Forry’s life when he needed him most. Kevin talked about his friendship with Forry and explained to the crowd how he was administering Forry’s estate. He made it clear that he’d sat down with Forry and asked exactly what he wanted. I am happy to tell you that Kevin is not only fulfilling Forry’s wishes but he’s doing it with incredible grace and with an eye toward Forry’s legacy. Kevin then did a terrific impression of Forry’s answering machine: “By recording, this is Forry Ackerman. What can I do for you?” It brought the house down.

TS: Our next guest has the distinction of being considered “best pal“ by Forry himself. Friends and fans consider him a miracle worker who kept Uncle Ack happy and healthy over the last two decades. If not for the diligence of this fellow, we would have been holding this tribute many years earlier. But he’s more than just a glorified Ygor. He is an accomplished artist, writer, filmmaker and studio vocalist. Forry simply called him “a son among nephews!” Welcome Joe Moe.

The Forrest J Ackerman Tribute: 3/08/09 (click for larger image)That’s me! I made it to the stage, joined by a string trio (Heather Lockie: Viola, Denny Moynihan: Uke and Marc Doten: Stand-up base). I called some of Forry’s Monster kids up, including Forry-makeup protégé 18-year-old Casey Wong. I explained that I was going to sing a song that I sang with Forry though life and that I sang to Forry on the sad day I laid him in his grave. I asked the audience to help me. I told them that I believed if we sang our hearts out, Forry might send us one last message from beyond. Then I launched into a rendition of Al Jolson’s Sonny Boy with lyrics changed to “Forry Boy!” Casey flipped cue cards for the sing-along. Kevin Burns channeled the voice of Forry ...

When there are gray skies…

(Kevin: “what don’t you mind in the least?”)

I don’t mind the gray skies…

(Kevin: “what do I do to them?”)

You make them blue…

(Kevin: “what’s my name?”)


I looked out at the crowd and there were smiles and some tears. People sang out and laughed when the cue cards got mixed up. I hadn’t really rehearsed, believing that no matter what happened, the musicians would follow their charts and everything would work out the way it should - for Forry! I just wanted to represent the magical nature of a conversation with Forry; the thing I’d miss most. I felt he was there with me. I wanted to keep it light because I knew what was coming next.

The song ended and the entire audience rose to their feet. I couldn’t think of it as a standing ovation for me. It was for Forry. We’d all laughed and cried that afternoon and now we were acknowledging each other as family. We were proud to be part of Forry’s legacy. We all settled back down and I confessed that I thought Forry had heard us and might send us one last message. I knew he would. I’d taped it at his request just days before he left us. The house lights went down slowly to blackness. A shimmer lit the screen as a fuzzy image faded in and out of view ...

Applause, much sobbing throughout the theater and then lights came up and the event was over. The audience rose as one and slowly made for the exits. There were hugs all around. Pics were snapped with celebs and more stories were exchanged. Tim Sullivan got the appreciation he deserved as friends and fans approached him to tell him what a great job he’d done. Dan Madigan beamed! Landis pulled me out of a crowd (uh-oh) to let me know, “OK, I thought you were gonna fuck it up for sure ... but it was good! Really good!” (Yay!)

We’d given our favorite Uncle a stylish send-off. I’d fulfilled my last promise to Forry. My last official task on his behalf. I was so grateful to everyone who came together to make the day perfect. Strange. Now I’m a civilian. Merely a volunteer in the Ackermonster brigade. But it’s with full voice and eternal conviction that I’ll stand on any mountain peak and yell, at the top of my lungs;




I'm in NO way superstitious, but Forry appeared to me in a dream last night.

He was the Forry of nearly 20 years ago. Older, but still energetic and mischievous. He had his hands behind his back as if to play his notorious "pick a hand" game. Instead he leaned forward, raised his eyebrow and said, "Say, pal. Been to any good Hollywood tributes lately?" I laughed, "Did you like it, Ack?" He shrugged, "Fair" -- and then he beamed, "The best I ever saw. The 9th Wonder of the world!" As I began to wake up, I realized that dream-Forry called the tribute the ninth wonder of the world because he figured after the seven ancient wonders of the world, King Kong was considered the eighth! Our tribute would have to settle for ninth place.

Wow! My brain channeled Forry! So, without having to believe in ghosts, I know he's still around.

Monday, March 23, 2009

MJSimpson Cult Review from IMDB

This is a review by MJ Simpson, a reviewer of cult films, which appeared on the Famous Monster page of The Internet Movie Database. It is a review of the DVD, including the extras, (which has been officially released today in the United Kingdom.) Stay tuned for news of our North American release, soon to come!

Famous Monster

Director: Michael MacDonald
Writer: Ian Johnston
Producers: Michael MacDonald, Holly Hedd
Cast: Forry Ackerman, Ray Harryhausen, John Landis
Country: Canada
Year of release: 2007
Reviewed from: screener

item6Famous Monster: Forrest J Ackerman (to use the full title) is a 48-minute look at the life and work of ‘Mr Sci-Fi’ himself, produced a couple of years before his death in 2009. It features most of the expected talking heads, some rare photos, lots of clips from trailers and PD classics and some newly shot interview footage with Forry himself who looks very weak and frail but clearly still had all his faculties.

Forry had a stock of anecdotes and well-worn gags which he trotted out in interview after interview, column after column, especially in the last decade or two of his life, so it would be very easy for this to turn into a singalongaforry as anyone with even a passing knowledge of the man mouths the stories word for word. It is to the credit of director Michael MacDonald and writer Ian Johnston (who share a curious ‘created by’ credit) that Famous Monster manages to largely avoid this, without leaving any obvious gaps in the story. There is the occasional “little boy, take me home” or “I am your reader, make me laugh” but they provide texture, not tedium, to the story.

Most of the interviewees need no introduction. They are, in order of appearance: Ray Harryhausen, John Landis, Ray Bradbury, Roger Corman, film exhibitor/historian Reg Hartt, Twilight Zone/Star Trek scripter George Clayton Johnson, actress Bobbie Bresee (Evil Spawn etc), actor Dan Roebuck (Matlock, Halloween remake etc), Rue Morgue editrix Jovanka Vuckovic, Joe Dante, David J Schow, director Tim Sullivan (2001 Maniacs etc), Del Howison (owner of LA collectibles store Dark Delicacies), Ib Melchior, Fred Olen Ray and Scott Spiegel.

There are also clips of Ackerman’s cameo roles in Ray’s Scalps and Melchior’s The Time Travellers as well as some archive footage shot inside the original Ackermansion. Forry sits in an armchair in the mini-Ackermansion that he moved into in his later years and is also seen at his favourite restaurant, House of Pies.

Forry looks very small and old in this film - he was 89/90 when it was produced - and his movements are small and slow. But he looks content, thankful for his (amazing) lot in life and comfortable in the knowledge that he is surrounded by friends who will care for him until Prince Sirki finally comes a-knocking. “He’ll probably outlast us all,” says Sullivan, which of course turned out not be true. “When he finally goes, he’s going to go happy,” ventures Dante, which thankfully did prove prophetic.

Although it was produced and broadcast on American and Canadian TV while Ackerman was still alive, the first DVD release of the documentary was this UK disc which hit stores a couple of months after his passing. There is a curious but, I suppose, unavoidable inconsistency in that some of the interviewees talk about Ackerman in the past tense but we can work out that they are talking about Forry as he was when he was still active; he was still with us when these people spoke.

Johnston’s script (narrated by Terry Pulliam) largely avoids any attempt to ape Forry’s punning style and acknowledges the controversy over the reincarnation of Famous Monsters without dwelling unduly on the matter or naming the other party involved. Johnston is also credited with ‘research’ and ‘interviews’ while MacDonald (who had previously interviewed Forry for his 2005 documentary Visions from the Edge: The Art of Science Fiction) shares camera credit with (brother?) Fred MacDonald and editing with James Patriquin. Warren Robert, sometime guitarist with rockers Avacost, provided the score.

Famous Monster strikes just the right balance so that it will appeal to both those who know little about Forrest J Ackerman and those who are completely familiar with the man and his legacy. Although there is, naturally, no reference to his passing, this serves as a generous, affectionate (but not cloying or hagiographic) tribute to a man who, directly or indirectly, touched the lives of millions of people around the world.

The DVD from Spirit Entertainment includes nearly two hours of extras plus a commentary by Johnston and MacDonald which starts fairly blandly but picks up later on. There is a three-minute ‘Blooper Reel’ which has out-takes from the interviews with Landis, Schow, Dante, Roebuck and Corman. Landis observes that there is no irony in Dan Aykroyd’s belief in UFOs, ghosts and conspiracy theories and that the actor really is “insane”. Corman can’t recall which of his films Forry cameoed in but, when told the details of one such appearance, then repeat sthem for the camera as if the information was plucked from the air. (Film journo secret: this sort of thing happens all the time.)

‘More Forry Memories’ is 27 minutes of additional interview footage, 17 minutes of which is Ackerman himself although this includes a rather pointless sequence in a car during which Forry barely says a word and a House of Pies sequence of Forry singing three songs, which is the sort of indulgence one extends to people of that age (and Forry always loved to sing to people) but is of little actual interest. The remaining ten minutes includes additional interview material with Dante, Bradbury, Roebuck, Sullivan, Spiegel and Landis.

On the commentary track, Johnston and MacDonald explain that they visited a convention where Forry was scheduled to appear but he didn’t show up. Since they were there anyway they grabbed three interviews with other guests but these have been omitted from the main documentary for two obvious reasons. One is sound quality - all three interviews were done on the fly in a noisy dealer’s hall - and the other is that none of the interviewees have anything to say about Ackerman except what a lovely man. Carla Laemmle (niece of the Universal Studios boss, now well into her 90s) is one of the ladies in question and the other two are Grace Lee Whitney (Star Trek’s Yeoman Rand) and Hammer/Bond hottie Caroline Munro. The fourth deleted interview is with a young, aspiring make-up effects artist, Casey Wong, who is seen in his studio and in Forry’s home. This whole ‘Deleted Interviews’ segment runs 22 minutes.

A seven-minute tour of the Mini-Ackermansion is really just long, unedited takes of establishing footage but it gives us a chance to view what remained of Forry’s collection after the great sell-off. On the other hand, ‘Dan Roebuck’s Hall of Horror’ (called ‘Dan Roebuck’s Living(??) Room’ on-screen) is a guided tour around the extensive collection of this likeable actor who turns out to be a massive, massive monster kid. Roebuck, whose many credits include episodes of Lost, Six Feet Under, Freakylinks, The West Wing, Lois and Clark and Star Trek TNG, explains that, unlike Forry, he has very few original items (a couple of Planet of the Apes costumes notwithstanding) but he has vast amounts of toys, action figures, books and other merchandise plus a number of lifesize waxworks, some bought from out-of-business museums and some specially commissioned. Finally there is a gallery of 37 photos of Forry or from his collection, some of which are seen briefly in the main feature.

One day someone may write a definitive biography of Forrest J Ackerman (whose middle name, I learned from this film, was actually Clark). I certainly won’t, but somebody might. It will be a difficult job, even at a remove of several years, because Forry was human and could, I have no doubt, be as cantankerous as any old man. But he is so loved, and is likely to remain so, that objectivity will be difficult and may well end up being condemned - which is one reason why I wouldn’t touch such a job with a barge pole, thank you very much.

In the meantime, this sympathetic, informative, well-crafted documentary serves as a fine record of a person whose historical importance and cultural influence were out of all proportion to his actual level of public awareness.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sci-Fi Fans Not Human? NBC Thinks So ...

by Ian Johnston
Writer - Famous Monster: Forrest J Ackerman

March 18, 2009

NBC-Universal Declares Sci-Fi Fans Not Human
Ackerman To Rise From Grave In Protest

Where’s Dr. Ackula when you need him?

How would the creator of the term "sci-fi" feel about this?

Oh right. He’s gone to the great Ackermansion in the sky, leaving behind a legion of fans and a grave plate that reads “Sci-fi Is My High”.

Too bad. We could have used him this week to defend the word he created (or at least popularized) more than 55 years ago.

The Sci-Fi Channel – owned by NBC-Universal, who used to know a thing or two about creatures that go bump and buzz in the night – has decided to ditch the word sci-fi and replace it with the more “cool” brand of “SyFy”.

According to the president of Syfy…..oh god, I can’t even type it…Dave Howe, the name change is aimed at “building a broader, more open, accessible, reliable and human-friendly brand…”

Wait a second. Did he just call all his current viewers “non-human”? God damn. I think he did. Wow…

Well, we know what he’s saying, don’t we? He just decided he’s too popular to hang out with the nerds and basement geeks. He wants to hang with the cool kids. Cool kids who don’t usually go for aliens and monsters.

Women. Guys with jobs. Normal folks.

And all this after The Sci-Fi Channel recorded its largest audience ever last year – built on all those very geeks he’s dumping.

Don’t you think it’s a bit wrong-headed to abandon your core audience in favor of a viewership who can be fooled into watching by the sight of a shiny new logo?

Needless to say, the world of always-indignant sci-fi fans has risen up in derision of this cynical money grab. Oh beware the power of the geeky internet blog. My fave comment so far? “I want to punch NBC-Universal in the face”.

Not that sci-fi has had a particularly free ride. Back in 1953, Forrest J (no dot) Ackerman claimed to have coined the word while riding in a car, playing on the current popularity of the word “hi-fi”.

Some in the science fiction world at the time felt the shortened word trivialized the genre. Harlan Ellison said it sounded like “crickets fucking”. But the word lived on.

Don’t see “SyFy” catching on however.

I mean, depending on how you pronounce, it sounds a bit like air escaping. Or like an abbreviation for syphilis.

Is there a cure for this affliction?

Maybe that’s the crowd that NBC-Universal is targeting – the flatulent syphilis girl who is drawn to sight of shiny things. Hey – you got her number? There’s a Stargate Atlantis marathon tonight.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Famous Monster: Forrest J Ackerman - Home Cinema Choice Review

The life and times of Forrest J Ackerman, the original Famous Monster of Filmland

Steve May's picture

While this short biopic is ostensibly about Forrest J Ackerman, the editor of influential Sixties fear mag Famous Monsters of Filmland, it’s also a celebration of fanboy obsession. Forry (as he was affectionately known) was the template of modern fandom, a rabid collector of all aspects of cinematic fantasy and fiction.

This breezy 48 minute documentary features tributes from famous fans, including Ray Bradbury, John Landis and Roger Corman; one notes: ‘Fans are not only collectors, they're historians of their hobby.’ And there was no greater academic than Ackerman.

A trendsetting fanatic, Forry attended the first-ever sci-fi convention in 1939 (dressed as a character from one of his favourite movies Things to come, pictured right) and was the original hoarder of film memorabilia, snapping up items such as the original ape model from Mighty Joe Young and Lon Chaney's teeth from London after Midnight. As John Landis notes, 'back them no one wanted this shit.' No one that is, apart from Forry.

Ackerman first made a name for himself as a literary agent for sci-fi writers, many of whom were to become legends in their field. His clients included L Ron Hubbard and Ed Wood (‘he was just an incompressible drunken voice at the other end of a phone,’ recalls Ackerman of Wood).

He also famously coined the term sci-fi back in 1954. But it was during the Sixties that he was to become a key influence of at least two generations of filmmakers and fans, as the Editor of Jim Warren’s pun-tastic horror magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland (1958 -1982). The magazine made extensive use of Forry’s own collection of photography, and was aimed at kids united by their love of horror.

One mag to rule them all
I count myself as an Acker-fan. As a Brit-kid starved of late night TV channels in an age before video, Famous Monsters was my only real source of info about the genre films I loved. Back then, even the most awful of drive-in shockers seemed exciting and exotic, and I cherished them vicariously through the pages of Forry's mag.

As Ray Harryhausen observes, FM was also the first magazine to make the background boys of exploitation cinema famous. But it wasn’t just the editorial that I loved, it was also all the ads for merchandise at the back of the book, which included cool-looking horror masks and giant posters of the Frankenstein monster. Ackerman himself amassed an astonishing collection of movie memorabilia over the years, which cruelly he had to sell when he needed money later in his life. It’s clear that he felt bitter that none of Hollywood's more famous sons stepped forward to fund a museum dedicated to the history of fantasy cinema, utilizing the 50,000 odd items he had amassed.

There are only a few contributions from Ackerman himself in this film, as he was hardly in the best of health during its production, but his enthusiasm for the cinema he loved remains undiminished.

Extras on the DVD include a silent tour of the 'mini Ackermansion' (basically, what was left after Forrest sold off his main collection and downsized); a blooper reel; and actor Dan (Lost) Roebuck's Hall Of Horrors (a tour of his own Ackerman-inspired SF and fantasy collection).
Famous Monster: Forrest J Ackerman may not be for everyone, but fans of the ultimate fanboy are well advised to add this to their (doubtless sprawling) collections.

Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment, Region 2 DVD, £13, On sale from March 23

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Forrest J Ackerman's Obituary from Dec. 5, 2009

Obituary: Famous Monsters Founder Forest J. Ackerman

92-year-old science-fiction fan Forest J. Ackerman - founder of Famous Monsters of Filmland- died last night, just before midnight. Ackerman became famous as the world’s number one fan of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror films; at a time when the genre was considered beneath contempt by the mainstream media, he started the very first magazine devoted to the genre, Famous Monsters, which became famous for offering a cornucopia of rare and amazing still photographs, usually captioned with Ackerman’s infamous bad puns (e.g., a shot of a robot being repaired in FUTURE WORLD was accompanied by this bon mot: “First a Clockwork Orange. Now a Clockwork Lemon,” a joke so weak that Ackerman felt the need to explain that the robot kept malfunctioning). Fortunately, the silliness became part of the magazine’s charm, and eager monsters kids were thrilled to have a publication that filled with interviews and articles about everything from Dracula to Godzilla.

I was not an avid reader of the magazine, but it was good to know it was out there, doing its job, and the issues I did own made for engrossing reading during the long car trips my family took for summer vacations. In those pages, thanks to some photographs of Carlos Villarrias as the Count, I first learned of the existence of the Spanish-language version of DRACULA that was shot simultaneously with the famous Bela Lugosi classic in 1931. I was amazed by behind-the-scenes shots from the filming of KING KONG VS. GODZILLA (1962). I learned behind-the-scenes details about many of the movies I loved while growing up: Poe films starring Vincent Price, Hammer horrors with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

Ackerman also kept an eye on new movies, but his love for the classics could not be diminished. At one point he even opined that THE EXORCIST had earned a place among the greats, but it was no replacement for old black-and-white films like THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and FRANKENSTEIN.

Not content to sit behind the editor’s desk, Ackerman used his magazine to achieve his own small slice of fame. Low-budget filmmakers eager for any kind of recognizable name or face would put him in low-budget exploitation films like DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN. Later, young filmmakers who had grown up reading Famous Monsters would give him cameos in their films (as when Joe Dante had Ackerman walk through THE HOWLING, carrying some old issues behind his back).

Ackerman eventually convinced foreign filmmaker Michael Bergman to make a film more or less about him. Bergman had contacted Ackerman, a former literary agent, about finding the rights to an old science fiction story, but Ackerman pitched himself as the subject for a movie. Bergmann agreed and concocted a tale about an obscure old silent movie monster who escapes from the screen into real life; desperate to find his way back into the movie where he belongs, he seeks out the world’s foremost authority on old horror films, Ackerman. The result was MY LOVELY MONSTER (1990). Ackerman helped add some “name” value to the low-budget production by having some friends from the industry show up to play bit parts in a party scene: actor Ferdinand Mayne (DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES, actress Bobbie Breesee, sci-fi writer Ib Melchoir, journalist Bill Warren, filmmaker and special effects artist Mike Jittlov, and horror icon Boris Karloff’s daughter, Sarah. Somehow, I myself managed to become one of the party guests, but you would need sharp eyes to spot me devouring kiwi fruits in the background. (Hey, they lured me down with the promise of a free lunch, but the only food was the stuff visible on screen.)

Ackerman’s fame was of a cult sort, but he did become the poster boy for Sci-Fi Fandom. Twenty years ago, in the wake of the post-STAR WARS blockbuster success of the genre, when a local television news station wanted to do a feature about the fact that science fiction was now mainstream, no longer the sole province of nerds and geeks, whom did they show as an example? Ackerman himself, draped in an old Dracula cape, creeping around dark corridors, doing a corny Lugosi imitation as he looked into the camera and urged, “Don’t be afraid…”

Since Famous Monsters ceased publication, Ackerman’s influence on the genre waned somewhat, but he was still the ultimate fan, beloved by other fans who remembered him from the childhood days. And Ackerman remained well known as a collector who frequently allowed guests to tour his “Acker-Mansion,” where they could see his extensive collection of books, posters, props, and costumes from classic movie monsters. In later years, Ackerman wanted to donate the collection to the City of Los Angeles for a museum, but that never came to pass.

I perhaps was born just a bit too late to be as fully enamored of the Ackerman Mythos as many fans are. I preferred a more serious approach to science-fiction, which is why I gravitated toward Cinefantastique. Yet even so, I have to acknowledge Ackerman’s work as a trail-blazer. There is something to be said for being first. And throughout his life, he retained his devotion to the genre that he loved, making personal appearances at local revival houses screening films like THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS and SHE. Anyone who who makes an effort to get people to see old movies on the big screen - not at home on television - deserves my eternal gratitude.

I only ever met Ackerman once or twice, and he seemed just as affable in person as he did in any of his public appearances or television interviews. The wide-eyed, almost naive enthusiasm was, I think, not a pose but a genuine expression of his character. In the pages of Famous Monsters, this may sometimes have expressed itself in gag-worthy puns, but there is no doubt that Ackerman possessed, as few people truly do, a genuine Sense of Wonder.

You can read more details about Ackerman’s life in the AP obituary. Also, check out this tribute by David Del Valle (written shortly before Ackerman’s not unexpected death).

Famous Monster - Filmmaker's Introduction - Forrest J Ackerman Tribute at the Egyptian Theatre Update 2

The Following are two YouTube clips of Ian and me as we introduce Famous Monster: Forrest J Ackerman to a crowd of over 400 souls at the Forry Ackerman Tribute, at the Egyptian Theatre, March 8, 2009. Rather than conduct a Q&A, we opted to chat about Forry, the film, and Forry's ghost, for 10 minutes (broken up into 2 clips). Thanks to Casey (at the bat - the Vampire bat) Wong for holding the camera so steady for that long!

Ian Johnston and Michael MacDonald

Forrest J Ackerman Tribute at the Egyptian Theatre Update 1

Los Angeles - American Cinematheque in Hollywood.

The tribute dedicated to Forrest J Ackerman was a stunning success. Over 400 souls, including many notable and affectionate fans of Forry's, attended this moving homage to sci-fi and Horror's greatest promoter. I will be posting videos and pictures along with a detailed report of the event o
nce I have fully recovered. In the meantime here are a few images from the day.

Joe Pilato - Rhodes from Romero's Day of the Dead.

Two generations of fans! No relation though.

Ann Robinson from George Pal's 1954 War of the Worlds.

Ian Johnston (my filmmaking cohort) with Johnny Legend, filmmaker and distributor.

Saturday, March 14, 2009 REVIEW of FAMOUS MONSTER DVD

Famous Monster - the Forrest J. Ackerman Documentary

Famous Monster Cover - click to order

Famous Monster Cover - click to order UK REGION 2

Famous Monster observes the life of the world’s most illustrious science fiction and horror devotee, Forrest J. Ackerman.

Ackerman, the writer, editor and literary agent who’s been attributable to coining the term “Sci-Fi” in the 1950s, has inspired generations of young horror film buffs and some of Hollywoods most prosperous film-makers with what will forever be titled the first movie monster magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland.

Through the use of archive footage, clips and interviews with Ackerman and some of the biggest names in fantasy films he inspired, (Roger Corman, Ray Harryhausen, Ray Bradbury, John Landis, Joe Dante, and George Clayton Johnson, among others) Famous Monster shows the journey Ackerman took as he grew up from being a kid reading Amazing Stories magazine and watching movies like Metropolis and Phantom of The Opera, to a literary agent to the biggest names in fantasy writing, to the editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland.

This fast-paced, profile of Ackerman is packed full of all of extras including, deleted interviews, and a tour of the infamous Ackermansion, which houses Forrys 300,000 piece collection of horror memorabilia, regarded as one of the world’s largest personal collection of science fiction and fantasy memorabilia

Famous Monster is a true collectable and a wonderful tribute to the man who created the world of science fiction.

How do I buy a copy of Famous Monster?

Famous Monster is currently available in the United Kingdom from a number of sources in region free DVD formats. For those of you in North America, all DVD players and computers will play this DVD. Check to see if yours does.

We are working on the North American release of Famous Monster and will announce that information just as soon as it happens.

Here are the United Kingdom sources. UK UK

B7 Media (our main distributor)

Official Blog of Famous Monster: Forrest J Ackerman - the film

Hi folks,

I have created this blog in order to separate the postings for Famous monster: Forrest J Ackerman from my writings on the paranormal. I am a filmmaker specializing in the genres of sci-fi, paranormal, and horror documentaries.

Famous Monster, was produced in 2007. It is a 48 minute biography about the life of Forrest J Ackerman which originally aired on Canada's SPACE:theimaginationstation. Uncle Forry, as he was affectionately known, was the acknowledged world's greatest fan of the macabre, and creator of the term, "sci-fi". In fact his favorite motto was, "Sci-fi is my high!" (Engraved on his memorial plaque). Forry passed away at the age of 92 on December 4, 2008. For more details on this most loved and influential man, see the wikipedia link here.

As for the film, I produced and directed the piece while Ian Johnston performed all the interviews and was the writer. Ian and I enjoy working together, and Famous Monster was our first joint effort on a documentary. He is a brilliant writer as you will see if you get a chance to watch the film.

Ian Johnston (L) Michael MacDonald (R)

Here is the official press release for our gala screening at the Egyptian theatre during Forry's memorial tribute, which took place on March 8, 2009.

FAMOUS MONSTER: FORREST J ACKERMAN, a one-hour Canadian TV documentary on fantasy film’s greatest fan, will screen as part of a star-studded Ackerman tribute March 8th in Hollywood.

“It’s a real thrill and more than a little appropriate,” says Famous Monster producer/director Michael MacDonald of the Halifax-based Roadhouse Films.

“Forry was a legend who spent his whole life living and working in Hollywood. To be asked to screen our doc for his friends and fans is a great honour.”

The TV documentary – a collaboration between MacDonald and former Halifax Daily News writer Ian Johnston (TV’s Liography, The Business) - was shot in Hollywood and Toronto. It aired originally in Canada on Space and City-TV.

Famous Monster focuses on 90 years in the life of editor/agent/collector Ackerman, who once possessed the world’s large collection of fantasy film memorabilia. Known as Uncle Forry to his fans, Ackerman is credited with coining the word “sci-fi” and inspiring writers like Stephen King and young film-makers like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas with his magazine “Famous Monsters of Filmland”.

“Forry inspired me,” confesses legendary B-movie film-maker Roger Corman in the documentary. “And I inspired a few people. And hopefully, they’re inspiring others.”

Ackerman died December 4th at the age of 92.

The memorial tribute – sponsored by American Cinematheque, a non-profit film organization in Los Angeles - will be held at the historic Egyptian Theater, the site of the first red carpet Hollywood movie premiere in 1922.

“I don’t think you can say who will follow in Forry’s footsteps,” concludes director John Landis (Animal House, The Blues Brothers) in Famous Monster.

“The answer is nobody.”

Following the tribute, FAMOUS MONSTER will be released on DVD in North America and the U.K. through B7/Kaleidoscope Media March 23rd.