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Enter the Crypt as John "The Unimonster" Stevenson and his merry band of ghouls rants and raves about the current state of Horror, as well as reviews Movies, Books, DVD's and more, both old and new.

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06 March, 2010

“Why Monsters?”

Since I started writing about the world of genre film some six years ago, several people have asked me why I chose this subject to focus my attentions on, wondering perhaps if I shouldn’t be more mainstream in my work. Others have remarked that I should be more “serious” in my writing—serious meaning commercially marketable, I would imagine. Friends and family both have said that they’d enjoy my writing more—if only…

The truth is, I write about what interests me, and few things have the capability to hold my interests as strongly as the monsters have over the years. Genre film is simply the medium I choose through which to examine life in general. Whether I’m writing about Christopher Lee and the rebirth of Classic Horror, [“Dracula Reborn: HORROR OF DRACULA and the Rise of Hammer,” 17 May 2008] or the joys of Exploitation Film, [“Something Weird on the Screen: The Wild, Bizarre and Wacky World of Scare-Your-Children Movies, Exploitation Shorts and Stag Films,” 11 April 2009] I’m writing about something that has provoked my muse, something about which I feel a need to write. Often, it’s about more than the topic of the piece.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m an old-fashioned type of guy. Perhaps that’s why I prefer the monsters, madmen, and maniacs of a bygone era of cinema. And it affords me opportunities to compare and contrast the classics with the modern, and examine what’s both good and bad about each. When I write about the things that I somehow find just unfathomable, [“Ten Things I Just Don’t Get,” 3 May 2008] or discuss the way modern filmmakers substitute gore and violence for plot and substance, [“Has the “Torture” Genre Run its Course,” 20 October 2007] that lets me skewer trends in both horror and popular culture that quite frankly I find puzzling. One of the most obvious examples is so-called “reality TV,” which bears little in common with reality, as most people understand it. The desire to be famous for fame’s sake, to be famous for no other reason than the fact that you exist, baffles me completely. When I can draw parallels between trends in the genre and trends in broader popular culture, I enjoy doing so, jabbing both where needed.

Occasionally, I get an urge to comment on life as a middle-aged man in a world of genre fandom that’s geared primarily for the young. Horror and Science-Fiction have always appealed to the young, and as someone who grew up reading Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, I want to do everything in my limited power to encourage a love of classic horror in future generations, including my own Uni-niece and –nephew. Not only do I enjoy sharing my love of horror with them, but discussing the evolution of Dracula with my niece, or being the one to show the 1941 classic THE WOLF-MAN to my nephew for the first time, lets me experience these classics in a new way, once more through young eyes. It inspires me.

As regular readers of mine are no doubt aware, I frequently wax nostalgic in my writings, examining keystones in the building of a youthful Unimonster. There are many such moments that I’ve written about, from my love of going to the Drive-In to my memories of happy Halloweens. Of course, not all of my childhood memories revolve around the Monsters, nor are they the only happy memories I have. But by writing about those memories that do share that common context, I can comment on what life was like in the early ‘70’s—at least, for one young boy.

I’ve often tried to write about my father—how great a man he was, how much he meant to his family, how deeply his death was felt by those who loved him. Even now, more than fifteen years after his death, the loss is still too personal, too deep for me to express adequately—I’m simply not that good a writer. But when I’m called upon to mark the passing of an icon of Horror, such as Robert Quarry or Forry Ackerman, I can in some small way do the same for those loved ones of mine who have passed on.

All writers use metaphor and allegory to express ideas in terms their readers find relatable. While it is undoubtedly easier to work with such tools in a piece of fiction, even the occasional DVD review can benefit from their use. So to those of my friends and family who often ask, “Why the Monsters,” I reply that I write about life—the monsters just help make it interesting.

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