Font Size
Saying thank you to the Ackermonster
If someone were to ask, “Which man, outside of your father, was the most important man in your life?” I would have to answer, “Forrest J Ackerman.”
If I were to be asked, “What is the most important book you have read?” I would have to reply. “It was not a book. It was a magazine called ‘FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND.’”
I grew up in a small town in New Brunswick, Canada, called Chipman.
There was not much there beyond what nature provided.
It was/is a one horse town where the horse died, the wagon burnt and on Saturday night unmarried (and more than a few married) men drove up and down the main drag for the towns one wicked woman to invite them into her house of sin where for a few dollars they could enjoy what they could not enjoy at home.
One day two women opened a drug store.
Now we had a drug store already. It was old, stale (even the sealed bags of potato chips tasted stale) run by an old, stale man. He carried a few magazines and a handful of paperback books.
These two women had a soda fountain where they offered giant cones of ice cream for 25 cents. People came from miles around for the ice cream.
They also had a huge rack filled with magazines and newspapers and a huge display of paperback books.
One day I walked in and saw a magazine with a color picture of Oliver Reed as a werewolf on the cover. It was called FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. The year was 1961. It was issue number twelve. I was 15.
Inside its pages I discovered fascinating pictures from movies I had never heard of but sure had to see.
I also found the first half of the story, “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell which was the basis for the science fiction film classic, “THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD.”
Part two was to come out in FAMOUS MONSTERS # 13 but that issue did not appear.
Issue number 14 appeared and all the issues after that. To read the end of the story I had to order issue # 13 from the publisher. I ordered all the back copies as well.
Mr. Ackerman always put his name as Forrest J Ackerman with no period after the J.
I started putting my name as Reginald W Hartt with no period after the W.
My English teacher docked me marks.
I did not know it then but that was the beginning of becoming my own person, an act for which we always pay a penalty. If we are content to get with the program, go with the flow we don’t get docked but the only fish that go with the flow are the dead ones.
I always loved to read. Thanks to Forry and FAMOUS MONSTERS my reading accelerated. I began to read modern fantasy, horror and science fiction.
I discovered Judith Merril, Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, James Blish, Philip K. Dick and a host of others.
I went to the guy who ran the local movie house and tried to get him to show THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1919).
He looked at me as if I was a one kid Communist plot bent on putting him out of business.
FAMOUS MONSTERS had ads for all kinds on neat stuff from a place called CAPTAIN COMPANY. This included back issues of the magazine, 8mm digests of movies and the best masks ever.
In addition to the back issues I ordered the 8mm movies and the masks. I was, in the eyes of everyone but myself, wasting my hard earned newspaper boy money.
That Halloween Hollywood’s most famous monsters terrorized Chipman, and I mean terrorized.
It being Halloween I figured everyone would get the gag.
Well, they did not.
My friends and I shuffled around the town dressed as Frankenstein’s monster, the wolfman, the mummy, the hunchback, the man with the melted face, and Death .
We scared the beejeezus out of the town.
For months afterward all people could talk about was the monsters that had scared the urine out of them. My friends and I had a hard time keeping a straight face.
Years passed.
In 1968 some kids came to one of my shows from a place called ROCHDALE COLLEGE. They told me about a woman there named Judith Merril.
I rushed over to meet her.
I was skinny, pre-punk punk dressed head to foot in black and, she told me years later, I scared the feces out of her.
But…
I had 8mm prints of THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, THE BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN, Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS, and more.
Judy sponsored me as a resource person at Rochdale.
Into my life that year also came Jane Jacobs and her family. They had seen a flyer for a showing of Lon Chaney in THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1923).
I knew them for two years before I found out who she was. Who was she? She was the author of the most important book on cities in the world, THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES.
I could go on but the point is simple.
When I opened the pages of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND that first time I was also opening a door into a new world I had not dreamed existed.
One of the things Forry did that was absolutely incredible was that he invited absolute total strangers into his home. I had the thrill of being one of those strangers who walked the halls of the fabled ACKERMANSION. There on the floor in his living room were the heads of The Seven Deadly Sins from Fritz Lang’s great film METROPOLIS.
One of my life ambitions was to invite Forrest J Ackerman to Toronto to my home where I could invite absolute total strangers into MY home to meet the hero of my youth, my adult hood, my whole damned life.
And I achieved that ambition. Forry had a grand time.
Now The City Of Toronto says that unless I play by their rules I can’t play.
The problem with their rules is that they take out all the fun.
You see it is illegal in Toronto to invite strangers into our homes.
Shortly after she arrived in Toronto Jane Jacobs was asked what she thought about the city. She said, “Toronto isn’t a dead city. It’s great city. The people are terrific. The only problem is at the top. The official motto of Toronto is ‘STAMP OUT FUN.'”
It was then and it is now.
The things that inspire us as kids are not found in classrooms.
Nor are they generally speaking things that mothers and government officials and teachers approve of.
Not many people approved of me reading FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. They did approve of me reading the books FAMOUS MONSTERS and Forrest J Ackerman inspired me to read.
I think it’s time to leave Toronto. It’s no fun being in a place that hates fun on the official level. Think I am making this up? Here’s Jane Jacobs herself speaking about Toronto’s WAR ON FUN:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUO20–hXw8   .
I owe the fact that Jane Jacobs became my friend to Forrest J Ackerman and to FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND because I bought a copy of the Lon Chaney 1923 film THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME because I read about it in FAMOUS MONSTERS. And when I showed it the year Mrs. Jacobs arrived in Toronto, 1968, she saw a street flyer I had posted. She brought her family to see it.
Hell, I owe my whole life to Forrest J Ackerman.
It is time to get out of this town that stamps out fun.
Where will I go? I don’t know. I’ll go where I’m welcome. I do know I am not welcome in Toronto. Strangers aren’t welcome here either.
On the right you will see a list of sites. One of the sites I list is that of the world’s number one travel guide, THE LONELY PLANET. Hit it and you will find THE LONELY PLANET places Reg Hartt and his Cineforum at the very top of its list of places in Ontario and in Toronto. I am a major tourist attraction that has not cost this city a cent. But then, as Jane said, “Toronto doesn’t value what isn’t mediocre, very big and VERY expensive.”
Me? I’m not expensive. I don’t charge admission. People make donations.
MICHAEL VALPY, GLOBE AND MAIL: “REG HARTT is what living in a metropolis is all about. He personifies the city as a meeting place of ideas, as a feast of experience and discussion and debate, as a triumph of the original and provoking over the banal and soporific.”
JULIA SCUTARU, retired journalist, Bucharest, Romania, 2000:  “In Toronto, I discovered by chance, Cineforum. Pure chance but a fortunate one. In that small room exhaling culture, passion and dedication, I watched the movie TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, an important historical, political and social document., and real artistic achievement….As a journalist (in Romania) I worked in the cultural field, including film reviews. Therefore I came to the Cineforum not just as a movie lover, but as a knowledgeable professional…We live in an era authoritatively dominated by brainwashing and political correctness…I admired Reg Hartt’s courage and passion put in searching out and defending the human truth, the artistic truth, the historical truth; the Truth and unveiling it…Discovering Reg Hartt and his Cineforum was one of the most important events of my visit in Toronto.”
DOUGLAS ELIUK, education officer NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA, formerly Canada’s Cultural Attache to America:  “(REG) Hartt is acknowledged as a phenomenon in the film community. He is someone who does not rely on government grants, subsidies or institutional protection to generate his film activities. He depends entirely on his intelligence, talent and resourcefulness. His events are produced with care and good sense, in a clean and friendly atmosphere and with an almost avuncular consideration for his fans, As a film officer for the National Film Board of Canada for 30 years, I have seldom seen anyone who added so much substance and passion to the cultural fabric of our society as he has done with his lectures and presentations.”

From a letter to Ottawa’s Towne Cinema: “Last week I finally got a chance to see a film I have been trying to see for literally years. That film is METROPOLIS, and I don’t mean Giorgio Moroder’s head-banger version. No, I’m talking about the most complete version of the film as it was meant to be seen in a l6mm print so clear, so clean you’d think the film was made a year ago. Wow. I mean I have been hearing stories about METROPOLIS for a long time, but I never thought my expectations would be met let alone far surpassed. And this without the “help” of Mr. Moroder. Does this mean there wasn’t a soundtrack?

“Far from it. Accompanying the film was a brilliant (and I mean brilliant) soundtrack combining both modern music and classical pieces. This soundtrack suited the film when we all know Moroder’s didn’t. So who has this print of the film? Reg Hartt….If you know anything about Reg Hartt you know his lectures are anything but boring. He’s thrown chairs at people, kicked non-believers out, slandered near everyone under the sun (who usually deserves it) and started near riots. In other words, a real entertaining guy. Honestly. Reg is a lot of fun, he knows more about film (and the politics of film) than all of my teachers combined. And his soundtracks!”

DOUGLAS ELIUK, education officer National Film Board of Canada; Canadian Cultural Attache to America: “I have left so many cinemas looking like I’ve been smelling onions for two hours that it is a pleasure and a catharsis to alert you to a redeeming film experience I enjoyed recently. It was not exactly an epiphany, but when something brilliant comes along, it deserves comment beyond self congratulations on managing to stay awake.

“What I’m referring to is a recent screening of Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS I attended at Reg Hartt’s Cineforum. I’ve seen the film with every sort of accompaniment except organ grinder and a monkey. When organ and even the now rare orchestral accompaniments have been attached to one of the “silent” classics, it is still hard to avoid the giggle factor what with all the usual silent movie grand overwrought gestural school of acting methods. However, Reg Hartt has completely transcended the predictable approach and has presented a classic film with a brilliant multi-layered sound track that forgives the histrionic giggle factor. Hartt allows us to see a great film with a fresh perspective.

“I am not Mr. Hartt’s P. R. council but as someone who has been in the film industry for decades and who celebrates cinematic excellence,I hope you will take the opportunity to experience this superb revitalization of METROPOLIS with its innovative music track.”

PETER MOORE, British Artist: “I am a Brit artist. I love Toronto. I have sometimes heard it said that Toronto is boring. It is a comparatively well ordered city. Maybe that is why some imperceptive people think it boring. The thing is I keep having amazing successes in Toronto. My friend Bob Welton who decided he was much happier in Warsaw than in London used to say in London everything is possible and nothing is probable. I just find in Toronto not everything is possible but lots of things, important things, are quite probable. Does this make sense?

“ANYWAY, a wonderful surprise in Toronto is Reg Hartt’s Cineforum. I was walking down Bloor Street with my friend Alan, a composer, a Torontonian who, searching for fulfillment in London, has realized that everything he wanted existed in his original home, Toronto. It was my birthday. He said, “What do you want to do for your birthday?” I said, “I want to go and see that!”

“I was pointing at a mysterious poster for TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, (the film of Hitler’s l934 Nuremberg rally). I’d always wanted to see that.

“So we went and I found myself in the most perfect place on earth to watch a film. With the film was an unexpected treat….a brilliant, unbiased, sensible and stimulating introduction by the amazing Reg Hartt.

“So once again, in German mode, we went to see Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS. Reg had somehow spliced on to the film his own soundtrack. Now this was interesting because a while later we went to the Art Gallery of Ontario where the same film was shown-much bigger screen-and with piano accompaniment. It was interesting to compare the two showings. Reg’s came out winning.”

 Forrest J Ackerman gave me a life. It has been and continues to be a wonderful life. –Reg Hartt 12/13/2016.
P.S. Don’t come to Toronto. It’s against the law here to welcome strangers into our homes.
“Elizabeth Glibbery, the Toronto and East York Manager of the Municipal Licensing & Standards Division, it operates as a place of public assembly, for which the building is not zoned. “[He is] inviting in people who may not be known to him,” Glibbery told us, when asked how a group of people gathered at the Cineforum differs from a group of friends gathered to watch a DVD at any other apartment in the Toronto.”

220px-forrest_j-_ackerman_collector_of_movie_memorabilia_with_fan 220px-forrest_j_ackerman_at_the_ackermansion 360_forrest_ackerman_1206 1998-5-kong-omaha-rayh-forry-rayb_large 3055031551_a52205cb01_o b12904fbf1a6059b32f85bb9bdd9265d download fja2 forest-ackerman-monster-magazine forrest-j-ackerman forrest_ackerman_1965

Forrest Ackerman "The Wizzard" and some of the monsters that inhabit his mansion. (1969)

Forrest Ackerman “The Wizzard” and some of the monsters that inhabit his mansion. (1969)

forrest_j-_ackerman_in_his_home_image__4_ forrest_j_ackerman_1972 forry-bill-chancellor-color forry-rip-web mz001_dr_acula_500 o-finalackerman-facebook pjfa poster

Ray Harryhausen, Ray Bradbury and Forrest J Ackerman snuck into movies as kids and thankfully they stayed kids all their lives.

Ray Harryhausen, Ray Bradbury and Forrest J Ackerman snuck into movies as kids and thankfully they stayed kids all their lives.

slide_297791_2456489_free stuffmomnevertoldyou-86-2014-08-forrestackerman-01 syotos-episode-96-2 things-to-come-forrest-j-ackerman-1939-4sj-man-of-the-future-costume-famous-monsters-of-filmland-2 tumblr_krckigi3br1qzgoa3o1_500-png w39-0300d36339cd0773a1f61c03a25500b8074 701311-1 701311-2 701311-3 701311

I would think that when Jane Jacobs says the best part of a Reg Hartt presentation is what he has to say city planners would be keen to listen. Not in Toronto where, as Jane Jacobs states, the official motto is STAMP OUT FUN. What Toronto is turning a deaf ear to the world is turning an open one.

I would think that when Jane Jacobs says the best part of a Reg Hartt presentation is what he has to say city planners would be keen to listen. Not in Toronto where, as Jane Jacobs states, the official motto is STAMP OUT FUN. What Toronto is turning a deaf ear to the world is turning an open one.

cn6vws_ueaehdhl hqdefault o-1

Very few people got a fan letter from Jane Jacobs. Reg Hartt got several. "Everything you write is worth reading," she wrote. Not one Canadian publisher have knocked on Reg Hartt's door. Last year an American publisher did.

Very few people got a fan letter from Jane Jacobs. Reg Hartt got several. “Everything you write is worth reading,” she wrote. Not one Canadian publisher have knocked on Reg Hartt’s door. Last year an American publisher did.

« »