If you’re reading this, you’re at least one of several types of people:
- A casual fan of monster movies who, after scanning the cable guide, will land on something with a creature in the title, check it out for a few, and, satisfied that it will keep you entertained, leave it on. You may watch the whole thing through, or leave it on “in the background”, only paying attention during a gruesome, bizarre or spectacular sequence. In your Facebook profile, you put “monster movies” or “horror movies” in your interests, but probably after some thought.
- An active fan of monster movies who seeks out titles on cable, VOD or download with a creature of some sort. You consider yourself more of a “horror fan”, not conscious of your preference for rubber or computer generated beasts. Your friends enjoy the genre as well, and it is close to the top of your list of entertainment preferences when asked. Your Halloween costume is more creative than others’, and you either make it yourself or spend a lot of money on the well-made masks, outfits and accessories that are now available.
- A hardcore fan of monster movies, who appreciates the horror genre as a whole but absolutely understands the nuances that separates the monster subgenre. Your extensive DVD collection stretches back to the silents, and you’ve listened to all the commentaries. You wrinkle your nose at CGI SyFy movies but watch them anyway (and refuse to admit that you’ve TiVo’d and rewatched several). You go to conventions. You have a collection of monster figures on a shelf, with even more still in boxes…somewhere. You may even have a tattoo (or several) of your favorite creatures. You bookmarked several of the better known horror sites, or subscribe to their RSS feeds or podcasts. Your coworkers think you’re strange, but you know that they’re the strange ones.
- A professional. You spent most of your life immersing yourself in these films. You learned how to write about them, interviewed their creators, examined their social relevance. You may have even written some screenplays, many of you have had them produced. You may have written a book (or several) on the topic, and some are used as texts in film study classes. Or, you may have leaned toward the visual, graduating from scribbling monsters in your school notebook to applying pieces of rubber to actors to make them look like those same monsters you scribbled. You may have gone from Mathlete to computer FX artist and discovered the best way to make that scaly texture map look more like millions of real scales.
Either way, you’re all here because you’re monster fans and you’re here to celebrate the genre, and we have developed this program specifically so that all of you can share in the celebration.
The purpose of this program: raise awareness of this simultaneously fun and scary subgenre among monster fans of all levels of interest and expertise. There are countless conventions, blogs, toys, games, collectibles, reference books, dvds, reference books, magazines…you may know them all or you may never heard of any of them, but we’re going to do our best to make as many fans aware of as much as possible.
Many of these items are produced by friends we’ve made over the course of 20 years of being in the “fan marketing” business. For some of them, it’s a very lucrative business; for others it’s a hobby. Either way, they all share a passion for this genre, and 100YMM is designed to help connect them with the fans who are seeking them out.
For me, it’s part of a personal journey. As a kid reading Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine in the 1970s, my one window into the genre was that magazine. The fabled publication has been written about countless times and there is little I can add to the more eloquent anecdotes of far superior writers except to say that it opened me up to a world of imagination that only made me hungry for more.
In 1974, Famous Monsters ran a convention in New York City and, being local, I was lucky enough to convince my dad to bring me.
This was a pivotal experience.
Many other magazines and books with broader views on the topic were promoted or sold there. Celebrities and production veterans talked about their craft. Actual props and costumes were displayed and their construction talked about by the people who made them. FM’s famous cover paintings were on display and you could get up close and examine the choice of brushstrokes people like Basil Gogos used to create those magical color combinations. Upcoming movies were previewed.
Like many of the other attendees, I went back home with a heart full of the experience of having spent days immersed in the genre, but a head already beginning to calculate how to make a living at it. Surely, not an immature thought, as there were plenty of responsible adults at the show sharing their experiences in writing, directing or creating makeup for movies, publishing magazines, producing lines of model kits and toys.
I saw people who were happy at their respective crafts and other people who enjoyed the fruits of those labors. At the time, I was on the latter side of the equation.
Flash forward (gulp) 37 years, and I’m on the other side. I’ve been blessed to run a company with brands that develop toys, collectibles and apparel for fans of the genre. Prior to that, I produced horror events for one of the world’s biggest fan convention companies, developed online monster webzines at the dawn of the internet for Universal Studios as Creative Director of their New Media Group, and launched websites for several other well-known genre media brands, many of which still thrive.
So, when we decided to expand the company back into my old internet career, I felt it important to create something that gave something back to the genre that got me started on this journey. I wanted to provide a platform that was useful for people of all levels of fandom, from the casual fan to the professional.
- The casual fan can use this program to learn more about the monster movie subgenre. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to define what a monster movie is, and to help provide you with a reliable list that you can take with you to the local video store, or search through cable or VOD listings. You can see the list in progress right here (and don’t worry, hardcore fans, it’s just a start).
- The active fan can find ways to expand their expertise in the genre and find other friends around the world who share their passion. We are not opening a 100YMM forum, as there are many well-run message boards that do the job better than we ever could, and many of them can use the support. If we do our job correctly, we will help populate those boards with many new contributors.
- Hardcore fans can flex their expertise and contribute by adding their recommendations for films, products, books, periodicals sites and other items with blog entries, or comments and posts on our Facebook page. We don’t pretend to be editors or experts here, so our primary purpose to the hardcore fan is to encourage them to share their knowledge with others.
- Professionals can consider this program a place to promote their work and help refine the flow of information. In my opinion, the “bad side” of the wealth of information on the internet is that so much of it is conjecture, opinion, or just plain wrong. Here, I call upon the professionals of this genre to contribute their thoughts, provide research-based facts, and help guide the next generation of fans. Feel free to correct us as well, if we present anything erroneously. In exchange, we will pimp the hell out of whatever you’re doing.
As for me, I’m just grateful to be able to develop this program and have fun doing it. In just a few days, we’ll be recreating the classic days of live monster television with a 3 day movie marathon webcast complete with live hosts, featuring titles that are kindly on loan to us from our friends at Alternative Cinema as well as reliable old creaky public domain classics (sorry, if you’re expecting Universal or other studio monster movies, you’re just going to have to check the local video store). A few weeks later, we’re putting on a monster toy display at Monsterpalooza in Burbank. A month later, my former coworkers at Creation Entertainment are letting us run several 100YMM events there such as a kaiju film festival and a monster art gallery at the upcoming Weekend of Horrors in Los Angeles.
But if you ask, “Why monsters and not horror in general?” my answer has several parts to it:
1. There is no shortage of general horror information on the web. In no way can we get our arms around anything like that.
2. General horror includes some subgenres that some may consider unsavory or extreme. We certainly appreciate them as well, but it makes an effort like this one largely inaccessible from a beginner’s point of view.
3. Monsters are responsible for getting me on this journey in the first place, and it seemed a good place to start. The 100th anniversary of the Edison Frankenstein film certainly provided us with a great hook, and after decades of legal wrangling, it seems Famous Monsters is returning to legitimate print. And, as I stopped believing in coincidences many years ago, I took it as a thumbs up from the universe.
With that, I welcome you to the 100 Years of Monster Movies celebration, thank you for your time and hope that I can start some of you of on this fantastic journey as well.
President, SphereWerx/Fourth Castle Micromedia