When writers spend a great deal of time on one topic, whether it is Horror films, or food, or sports, they tend to focus on things that annoy or upset them. It’s natural; most people are predisposed to complain, rather than to praise. Speaking for myself, I often find it easier to make clear what I didn't like about a movie, than to explain what I did. Ask me what was wrong with the Nicholas Cage version of The Wicker Man, and you’d better have a sizable hole in your schedule. Ask me why Robin Hardy’s original film was so good, and while I could go on just as long, I can also sum it up in one sentence: “A director’s perfect vision, perfectly executed by the perfect performers for their roles.”
Occasionally however, it is nice to highlight those movies, objects, or people that make Horror and Sci-Fi fandom such an enjoyable hobby. There’s a reason millions of people go to see the latest slasher films, or buy their eighth copy of Army of Darkness just to make sure they have every video release, or attend Horror conventions to get a treasured poster signed by someone who was essentially an extra in their favorite film. They, like the Unimonster, love this hobby, and seek their own ways to express that love. These are some of mine.
1.) American Horror Story: While AMC’s The Walking Dead is without a doubt the best Horror series on television, my personal tastes have always leaned more to the supernatural forms of horror. Yes, gut-munching zombies are fine, and no one does a better job of bringing them to life than Greg Nicotero, but for pure horror on the small screen, the three seasons of AHS—Murder House, Asylum, and Coven—are far more effective.
2.) Horror Hosts: Though the heyday of the Hosted Horror show is forty years in the past, there are a dedicated groups of fans that refuse to let those days fade completely from the scene, and a corps of corpses (figuratively speaking, of course) who are just as dedicated to carrying on the tradition of visiting us in our homes through the airwaves (well, Wi-Fi at least), and guiding us through the night with classic, and not-so-classic, horror films. Svengoolie, Karlos Borloff, Penny Dreadful, and Count Gore De Vol are just a few of the many who help us celebrate the memories of days gone by.
3.) Epic Rap Battles of History: Okay, I know that this is a weird one, even for me, and some might wonder just what comedic rap battle videos on Youtube have to do with the world of Horror and Science-Fiction. However, when you have such battles as Back to the Future’s Doc Brown rapping against Doctor Who, Batman vs. Sherlock Holmes, and an epic trilogy featuring Darth Vader taking on Adolf Hitler, well … it’s both genre-related, and hilarious enough to have me rolling on the floor in laughter. Considering the new ‘season’ just kicked off with Rick Grimes battling Walter White, it seems safe to say that ERB will continue to be one of my favorites.
4.) Conventions: While our hobby is usually centered on the glowing phosphors shining out from our living room televisions, there’s much to be said for gathering in large numbers with like-minded people, in the fellowship of Horror / Sci-Fi fandom. The chance to see old friends, to experience new areas of fandom, and to score new collectibles celebrating your favorite films, all are great reasons to seek out and participate in Horror conventions. For the Unimonster, it means a time to recharge my batteries, to renew my love of everything Horror. Oh, and new books and T-shirts … it’s not a successful con unless I leave with at least one new reference book and one new horror tee!
5.) Kaijû: While I love giant bugs and monsters in general, the Kaijû of Japan’s Toho studios are by far my favorites. Godzilla, Ghidorah, Rodan, Mothra, and the rest have been friends and companions of the Unimonster almost from infancy. Near constant exposure during the late ’60s-early ‘70s completely inoculated me with a love of foam rubber monsters stomping miniature Japanese cities to rubble. Forty years on, that love is still going strong, and with new offerings such as last year’s Pacific Rim and Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla [see review below] scoring huge at the box office, it’s apparent that I’m not the only one who feels that way.
6.) Comic Book Movies: Comic books have always been a passion of mine, and the fact that Hollywood is now embracing them as well, combined with the technology that allows filmmakers to convincingly create worlds as diverse as Asgaard, Oa, Krypton, and Sin City, makes this the best era ever for the Comic Book Movie. And with the upcoming Batman / Superman film set to go head to head against the second Avengers film, things can only get better.
7.) 1970s Exploitation Film Pressbooks: Collecting ephemera (advertising paper, posters, lobby cards, etc.) from our favorite films can be a great way to celebrate and display your love of movies, but it can be expensive. An original 1954 one-sheet poster for Universal’s Creature from the Black Lagoon is worth about $25,000, and a Frankenstein Meets the Wolf-Man lobby card approximately $10,000. Pressbooks, however, can generally be had for a fraction of that, around $30-50. And what, you may ask, are pressbooks? Pressbooks are the advertising circulars the film distributors sent out to theaters and drive-ins giving them the information they needed to properly promote the films they would be exhibiting. From the pressbook, they could select which posters and lobby cards to order, select newspaper ads, and order radio and television spots. They are fascinating documents, a look behind the screen, so to speak, into the world of the motion picture business. My personal favorites are from the 1970s, the pressbooks of the exploitation films that fed drive-ins and grindhouses with the movies that kept the fans coming back. My collection may be small, but it’ll continue to grow … without wiping out my meager budget.
There are many more things I could add to this list, but this will do … for now. At least, until I find something new that becomes a favorite of mine.