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R.I.P., Forrest J Ackerman: No. 1 guide to all things scary

It would be a shame if the passing of Forrest J Ackerman on Dec. 4 went unacknowledged outside the confines of Horrorwood, Karloffornia. For anyone who grew up reading “Famous Monsters of Filmland,” Uncle Forry was the ultimate fan who provided this Midwestern kid, and thousands of others, a personal guide to the classic Universal monster movies and all things scary, kitschy and truly weird.

I interviewed him by phone in the 1990s, and he genially invited me to visit him next time I was in Los Angeles. Even though he was in failing health and living in a scaled-down version of his fabled “Ackermansion,” I took him up on it in 2003, and at the moment I’m glad I did.

He answered the door that afternoon like some perpetually perverted trick-or-treat ghoul, grinning maniacally from behind the door and those oversized glasses. He welcomed me in, and, with practiced stage lines, gave a tour. There was Stephen King’s autographed first short story, tacked unceremoniously on the mantle. There was the brontosaurus from “The Lost World.” There was “Mighty Joe Young” himself. There was Medusa from “Clash of the Titans.” And on and on.

Finally, he took me into his bedroom, reached into the top dresser drawer and produced the ring worn by Bela Lugosi in the original “Dracula.”

Being the überfan he was, he knew what it meant when he allowed me to slip it on.

Rest in peace, Forry. Thanks for the passion, the encyclopedic knowledge, the absurdity. Thanks for providing all those days curled up with stories about film lots and makeup and special effects, and all those nights with Vampirella.

 As one fan put it on your MySpace page: “Tell Boris, Bela, Vincent, Ben, [and] Lon we all still remember them well. Thank you for allowing our children to dream and us adults to always imagine.”

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