By Nickolas Cook
The Black Glove Magazine
See that man above?
If you love horror, then you should know who he is without asking. And you should thank God for him everyday.
He's gone now. But his legacy lives on.
At least it does with me and other horror devotees who were touched by his greatest creation, his lifelong obsession, Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine
For he was the greatest Horrorhead who ever lived!
I’m sure if you’ve at all been keeping up with my online ramblings and my numerous editorials and articles for THE BLACK GLOVE MAGAZINE then you’ve undoubtedly come across my use of the term “Horrorhead”.
So what is a Horrorhead, you might ask?
Well, I sort of touched on that term and its meaning in a recent rant (and I’m not kidding; it was really more of a rant than an editorial) back in April 2010’s Editorial, issue #10. But to clarify and remind, I define it as a person who knows the history of horror as well as any professional film historian or critic.
Now that might sound like a fairly simple thing to attain; but ask yourself how many people you know who can sit down and recite dialogue, trivial facts and give you blow-by-blow of scenes in even some of the major horror releases from the heyday of the genre?
How many people do you know who can name 25 well known horror titles off the top of their head?
I’ve been fairly lucky in my dealings folks online and in the real world (and if you don’t know there’s a HUGE difference, then knowing the right Horrorheads is the least of your worries, I’m afraid). I started hanging out on a message board back in 2004 called Shocklines.com. During my years hanging out there I met some of the biggest names in horror fiction, even a few horror filmmakers. It wasn’t until the last couple of years, when creator and owner, Matt Schwartz, decided to step down the site’s storefront and make it a horror community only, that things became more snark than fun, and I finally stopped going there pretty much altogether. What happened was what happens to most good places “where everybody knows your name” online. It inevitably became the stopover for every two bit self-published “Horror Author” on the net to SPAM the fuck out of it. And the even more inevitable shitheel snark masters found it a place to give their venomous rants and hatreds a voice.
When I found myself becoming more involved in arguing politics and racism than writing my stories and books, I decided to get away from the place. It had become akin to emotional poison for me.
There are people whom I met there, and then later in real life, who have become mentors and even friends. And there are, of course, the usual bunch of emotionally stunted jerkoffs who delight in bullying, and even physically threatening, other people, who ruined the party for me. And, yeah, they turned out to be pretty much assholes in the real world when I met them, too.
One zombie writer in particular...but, no, this isn't the place for me to go off on that asshole and his wholly unprofessional behavior, and probable drug and alcohol addictions. That's for private conversations.
And this is getting dangerously close to a rant again...
No, I'll focus on the people who have made a real difference in my life and career. These are some of the people who have inspired me over the years in my quest for horror history. People like Bill Lindblad, Black Glove staff writer and friend, Philip Nutman, writer for Fangoria Magazine, and most of the staff over at Rue Morgue Magazine. Several other people who became unknowing mentors in my own Horrorhead quest have been such genre icons as Forrest J. Ackerman, recently deceased creator of Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine, Stanley Wiater, one of the industry’s best known genre interviewers, Kim Newman, an excellent author/editor from the UK, and the man who wrote that classic on modern horror films, NIGHTMARE MOVIES, a book I point out as personally changing my life forever.
It was these folks, and at least half a dozen other collectors and reporters in the field, who taught me a love for the genre that goes beyond the merely casual. All of the above are knowledgeable experts on the genre and the people within it. They know their history of horror film, books and music to a degree that…well…they could have a degree in the subject.
In essence, it’s the Horrorheads who go beyond the merely casual, to try to make the genre better by their efforts, people who celebrate the genre in all its guts and g(l)ory, and even try to make it better than when they found it.
If the genre has a face for me, it’s the people I’ve mentioned above.
And it’s the people who write for THE BLACK GLOVE. To me, these people are the real heroes of the genre. They aren’t doing it for profit (Lord knows, there ain’t no profit in this); they’re doing it because they care more about their passions than their pockets.
And it is these Horrorheads, and folks like them, that I pin all my future hopes for the genre upon, people who will carry on the geeklove for the lost gems and the modern classics. These are the people who will sit on panels at various industry conventions, who will post seriously on the subject of horror in film and fiction on the ubiquitous message boards where fans, both rabid and casual, will gather to discuss their love for all things horror.
Unfortunately, what they won’t be able to do is control the level of respect and honor with which the genre is handled by the jackasses holding the purse strings in Hollywood. There, I’m afraid, folks, we are lost.
But I’ve droned on about my loathing, and dismissal for, most modern American “horror” cinema. It’s not something I need to get started on again. Hell, even I get tired of hearing me rant about the pathetic state of said cinema.
What a smart horror fan will do these days is seek out these Horrorheads wherever he or she can find them and listen to what they say about the subject of horror. Find them on message boards and at industry conventions. Open your ears and minds to their wisdom and expertise. I’m not saying you have to necessarily agree with even half of what they say on any given subject within the limits of the genre, and most certainly not outside it—even though you should give them an ear on the subject of life, for they will most certainly have some things to say about that as well—do yourself a favor and just listen. These are people, after all, who have spent a good deal of their lives reading, watching and learning about the horror industry. Many of them have lived through the heyday and the leaner years in the genre and they know of what they speak when it comes to the highs and lows within it.
These aren’t the mall morons who take in a horror movie or two a year and think themselves experts on horror cinema. Most of those assholes can’t even name ten movies made in the 80s, let alone horror movies in the 80s. And don’t even get me fucking started on their lack of cultural reference beyond their own tender teenage years, or the latest teeny-bopper horror-fantasy du-jour that Hollywood is hawking these days.
For it will be the Horrorheads among us who will ultimately keep the genre memory alive and kicking when this terrible rash of useless American horror cinema finally eats its own tail, disappears up in its nether regions along with the Macarena.
Trust the Horrorheads among us, people.
They know what they’re talking about.
They remember why the genre was fun, why the genre is more important than any other fictional genre in American cinema.
They’re the self learned experts who carry the cultural memory for all of us, while the greedheads among us sell our collective creative souls and heritage to the highest bidder and the lowest common denominator.
Long live the Horrorheads!
The Black Glove Magazine