Whatcha' lookin' for?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Love Horror? Want More? Rondo Awards time again!

Every year since 2003, David Colton and his Classic Horror Film Boards have presented the RONDO HATTON AWARDS! These treasured lil' statuettes are the only horror award nominated and voted on by classic horror fandom at large. This coveted acknowledgement within our community is much more friendly than competitive. Sure, we all want one. But at the end of the day, supporting the Rondos means fostering attention for the classic horror faire we love and encouraging the creation of more classic horror-related media for all of us to enjoy.

When you check out a RONDO BALLOT for the first time, I think you'll be surprised at the number of categories AND the sheer quantity of nominees listed. It's remarkable to note how many talented people are lending their energies to exploring the genre and keeping it alive through diligent, creative, well-researched work. If you are new to the genre or the Rondos, I can assure you that you won't find a more literate or well informed field. Now, I know there are a lot of categories. But be aware: YOU CAN VOTE ALL OF THE CATEGORIES - OR - JUST THE ONES THAT YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH. But I would challenge you to get up to speed with as many nominees and their works as you can. It'll be a rewarding effort.

As in most RONDO BALLOTS past, there are a number of Forrest J Ackerman-related projects nominated for honors this year. Here they are:


FORRY: The life of Forrest J Ackerman, by Debbie Painter


HOUSE OF ACKERMAN, by Al Astrella and Jim Greene




FAMOUS MONSTERS # 250, by Michael Heisler

You'll also enjoy voting on everything from "Best toy, model or Collectible" to "Best Blog of 2010"! At the end of the ballot you'll find a list of write-in categories which includes the prestigious "Monster Kid of the Year" Rondo. This is an honor that goes to the person the community feels put forth, "efforts beyond the call of duty to build a better world of gods and monsters." I can tell you first-hand that this nod is one of the great honors in our genre. I received it in 2009 for my care-taking of our beloved Forry Ackerman in the last years of his life. It was like a big hug of appreciation from the people most important to me. This year YOU get to decide who gets that hug!

Me and my very own Creeper!

So, amble on over to the RONDO AWARDS ballot and cast your vote. Just cut and paste the ballot into an e-mail and make all of your choices. Be sure to include your name on your ballot or risk disqualification! Send your votes to David Colton at: Taraco@aol.com no later than midnight of March 27th, 2011. Do it now! The monsters are listening!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monster's Ink: FM and me!

Our grand ol' Uncle Forry. He started it all!

Wow! I recently edited retro issue #70 of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. Issue #70 represents the first of the missing FM issues that appeared when Warren Publishing replaced FM with Monster World for ten issues in the 1970s. For a monster fan growing up in Hawaii, Famous Monsters, or "FM" was my only lifeline to the horror world I loved. To get the opportunity to link my name to the magazine's legacy was, well, a dream come true. Years ago my dearly departed friend and original FM editor Forry Ackerman asked me, "So pal, when you were a little boy did you ever dream you'd grow up to be best pals with me?" I'd be lying if I said yes. But once I did become Forry's best friend, it was obvious to me that we belonged together. I seemed to have a positive impact on him and he found it easy to relate to me. We were an unlikely but remarkable fit. Opposites in personality, but our value for loyalty and sense of wonder was the same. Nonetheless, if you had ever asked me if I could imagine following in the footsteps of my mentor by editing an issue of FM? I would have laughed in your face.

The 1st issue of Warren/ Ackerman's "FM" c. 1958

I got a call from FM publisher Phil Kim in September. It was then that he offered me the managing editor position on Famous Monsters #70. I was over the (full) moon. The issue was going to replicate the old-school 70's FM as closely as possible, right down to the black and white newsprint pages! I asked if I would have any control over content and was thrilled to hear that I would. I hung up with Phil and immediately began spinning my wheels. Off the top of my head I knew I wanted to do a Dick Smith-style makeup layout and to have some of the iconic elements of the old mag brought into this issue. Things like Forry and Warren's anti-smoking ads and perhaps a whole segment on fan collections of the time (I had collected so many vintage pictures). As it turned out, FM was still growing and morphing. So, two weeks after agreeing to edit the mag, I got another call from Phil. Now I would be "guest editor" under copy editor Jessie Lilly, managing editor Mark Redfield and editor in chief Mike Heisler ... Oh, well. Growing pains. But I was still excited and wholly grateful to be involved.

MY first issue of Famous Monsters magazine.

As it was to turn out, Mike Heisler and Mark Redfield left the FM organization before issue #70 had been put to bed - but not before determining the content and layout of the issue. I confess, at first I hated the Hercules In New York cover, but it had already been locked in as the face of FM #70. The artwork was nice - but the subject? I made the best of it and asked my young, talented (and sarcastic) friend Justin Halliwell to write the "Filmbook" for HINY and I really warmed up to the subject as Justin's tongue-in-cheek treatment tickled me. Today when I look at the cover art, I kinda love it. I smile knowing what fun it represents. I also asked my good pal Elizabeth Haney to contribute a retro-article on Women In Horror - as I insist on female fandom being represented in any project I am involved in. Finally, I contributed the editorial intro (with as much pun-shine as I could muster) to honor our Ackermonster and captioned much of the mag - other than August Ragone's Destroy All Monsters piece and 2 of Max Cheney's terrific multi-contributions (I did caption his YORGA piece - some of my proudest groan-worthy work). Jessie Lilly and the rest of the FM staff were incredibly diligent in putting the finishing touches on the mag. I hear the final product is fantastic! As I write this, I understand that copies of the issue have just hit the FM offices and I am really excited to get one in my claws!

The cover of issue #70. Don't judge a book...

It was a bittersweet ending to the project when I was informed that I would now be credited as senior editor. I embraced the honor, but admit I was a little sad that the mag wouldn't truly represent what I woulda/coulda done. So, while the perfect opportunity to edit a real FM was not the perfect experience (like all journeys), I'm really glad I did it! I hope it opens the door to more participation in the stuff I love. Maybe down the line I'll get the chance to create MY perfect issue? I have other exciting projects planned with FM, Phil and his dedicated crew. As FM evolves, It will certainly hit its stride. It's no small feat transitioning from an entertaining novelty of the past into a relevant presence of the future - but we're all working away at trying to get there. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to participate in the genre, honor Forry Ackerman, perpetuate FM and to have had such fun doing it. Buy a copy of FM issue #70. If you like it, tell Phil to let me do it again sometime! Do check it out. I'm proud of it and it was made with a lot of love of fandom, Forry and MONSTERS!

EPILOGUE: I now have copies of FM #70 in my grubby little paws. It's really fantastic! It does exactly what we'd all hoped. It looks, smells and feels like vintage FM! Phil plans to learn from this issue and continue to tweak the authenticity (he's gonna up the paper thickness a bit), but all in all it's quite a faithful replica of the original. I gotta admit, it choked me up a bit to imagine Forry examining this issue. I could see him, beaming as he turned it over in his hands and read every single word. Hope you enjoy it! Looking forward to more...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Women and Children First?

[My friend, artist and activist Dame Darcy recently sent out the e-mail below. While it deals with hot-button political issues, they're important to all of us. I've removed references to party affiliation and replaced them with POLITICIAN or POLITICAL (all in caps) wherever possible so that you might judge the issues and not just react from purely party loyalties. I have left the "sources" as they stand. I hope anyone reading this will judge the info on its merits and not automatically assume a "side". I mean, can we afford to treat politics as a sporting event when human suffering and our commitment to taking care of each other and the most vulnerable in our society is at stake?] - Joe

The lovely and talented Dame Darcy

Dear Friends,
It might seem hyperbolic to say that POLITICIANS have declared a war on women.

Sadly, it's not.

Just take a look at the top 10 shocking, crazy things POLITICIANS have proposed in recent weeks. If you think this constitutes a war on women, please share this email far and wide--forward it, and post it on Facebook and Twitter.

I wish I could say these were the only examples of the POLITICAL war on women. But it's just a sampling, and more is sure to come -- unless we raise a ruckus and call them out. So please, share this email today.

Dame Darcy

Top 10 Shocking Attacks in the War on Women:
POLITICIANS not only want to reduce women's access to abortion care, they're actually trying to redefine rape. After a major backlash, they promised to stop. But they haven't.
  1. A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to "accuser." But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain "victims."
  2. In South Dakota, POLITICIANS proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care. (Yep, for real).
  3. POLITICIANS want to cut nearly a billion dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids.
  4. In Congress, POLITICIANS have proposed a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life.
  5. Maryland POLITICIANS ended all county money for a low-income kids' preschool program. Why? No need, they said. Women should really be home with the kids, not out working.
  6. And at the federal level, POLITICIANS want to cut that same program, Head Start, by $1 billion. That means over 200,000 kids could lose their spots in preschool.
  7. Two-thirds of the elderly poor are women, and POLITICIANS are taking aim at them too. A spending bill would cut funding for employment services, meals, and housing for senior citizens.
  8. Congress voted yesterday on a POLITICAL amendment to cut all federal funding from Planned Parenthood health centers, one of the most trusted providers of basic health care and family planning in our country.
  9. And if that wasn't enough, POLITICIANS are pushing to eliminate all funds for the only federal family planning program. (For humans. But POLITICIAN Dan Burton has a bill to provide contraception for wild horses. You can't make this stuff up).
  10. Please share this email today. Post on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The RITE: It's just not...

What possessed Sir Hopkins?

I love demonic possession films. The best of em' like The Exorcist. The King Kong of devilish horror movies. I even enjoy watching low-rent entries like Beyond the Door or the recent Exorcism of Emily Rose. So it was with an available soul and hand-clasped hope for terror that I went to see The Rite last night. It was boring. A terrific supporting cast with nothing to do but wax dour and severe. A lead character with the charisma of a gum wrapper. And Anthony Hopkins working as hard as he could without breaking character to laugh at the absurdity of the scenarios he found himself central to or to scratch his big head in baffled confusion over this crappy script. I'm not gonna spend a lot of time bitching about this failure. Just needed to vent because I was really eager to see this film and more than willing to forgive minor flaws in order to take the trip. I'm telling you. I should be making these damned horror movies!

Boo! Not as in scary Boo. As in thumbs down Boo!