In my pre-teen years, two magazines were central to my life.
One, of course, was "Mad," which trained generations in the art of not taking popular entertainment, sports or politics too seriously.
The other was "Famous Monsters of Filmland," which celebrated the creatures made famous by folks like Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr. and Sr.
The latter, having come through some ugly legal battles, is going back into business--and is celebrating that relaunch here in Indianapolis in July. And the 12-year-old in me is really looking forward to it. So is the adult.
Of course, the focus these days for the Encino, California-based company isn't on the classic Universal Studios monsters but in horrors of more recent vintage. The July 9-11 event at the Wyndham Indianapolis-West includes reunions of actors from "The Lost Boys" and the Night of the Living Dead movies, a workshop on low-budget filmmaking, and "screamings" of such flicks as "Dark Night of the Scarecrow" and "Autopsy of the Dead."
And while our town's film festivals may have trouble attracting name actors, the Famous Monsters folks are bringing in Margot Kidder (Lois Lane from the "Superman" movies), William Forsyth ("Dick Tracy," the "Halloween" remake), Thomas Jane ("The Punisher," and the underrated "The Mist"), and others.
Why Indianapolis? Says FM's Phil Kim: "It would have impact in Southern California, but we trip over actors in the grocery store. It's not a big deal. We looked at Chicago, but it's not as central as Indiana. In Indy we'll get suites for a fraction of what it would cost elsewhere. And we need a town where the average guy who enjoys movies can afford to come. And the local businesses have been great about filling up the green room for our actors."
Kim believes former Famous Monster's guiding light, Forrest J. Ackerman would approve of the reborn magazine. It's relaunch issue includes an original short story by Ray Bradbury (Ackerman was the first to publish Bradbury, back in 1938) and focuses on finding films and film talent before they become famous.
"Remember," Ackerman told him before he died, "that the magazine itself, is not as important as what it did for people."
I'll join such FM-influenced folks as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas in vouching for that.