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Famous Monsters LIVES–And It’s Terror-ific Halloween News For Us All!


The cover of Famous Monsters #1 from February 1958. The man in the mask is publisher James Warren. 

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The name Famous Monsters of Filmland has been synonymous with horror fandom since 1958, when the magazine first hit corner candy stores and kids scanning their display racks were drawn to the pale green, square-headed, electrode-studded visage of Universal’s Frankenstein monster looking back at them with dull, dangerous and, somehow, inescapably magnetic malice in its lidded eyes. 

For decades starting in the early 1960s, local TV stations padded their airtime with classic scare flicks from the 1930s and ’40s, along with a huge trove of low-budget science fiction movies featuring atomically mutated insects and crustaceans, shambolic human giants and bug-eyed aliens from outer space, all wreaking havoc to spooky soundtracks performed on a hands-free electronic instrument called the theremin. In New York City and elsewhere around America, horror hosts like Chiller Theater’s Zacherley and, later, Creature Features’ Lou Steel (aka The Creep) introduced each movie with ghoulish gags and perfidious panache, leaving their slightly twisted mark–and penchant for excruciatingly bad puns–on a whole generation of mesmerized young viewers.

FM was the perfect companion for this crazed cavalcade of monsters, offering unique insights into the filmmaking process as well as interviews from the horror greats. Its newsprint pages were chock-filled with photos of Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaneys Sr. and Jr. and populated by hideous creatures fresh from drive-ins and Saturday double bill matinees across the USA. FM’s publisher, James Warren, along with editor-in-chief, literary agent and movie memorabilia collector Forrest J. Ackerman (Uncle Forry)–who represented fantasy and science fiction authors Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and others, reputedly coining the term sci-fi–ignited the imaginations of countless black-and-white tv watching youngsters, inspiring many to become writers, musicians, make-up artists and filmmakers. 

The image of all-time great horror host Zacherley haunts the cover of Famous Monsters #7, June 1960.

Author Stephen King and directors John Landis, George Lucas and Tim Burton (as well as Peter Jackson) were notable fans, as were rockers Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons of KISS, and Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, who’s amassed one of the world’s most extensive collections of horror and science-fiction movie art. The punk rock band Misfits borrowed their logo from the magazine, and in 1999 paid it a direct homage by titling their fifth studio album Famous Monsters. In fact, the co-author of this very piece began his long writing career with a horror novel called The Pact, inspired by years of reading his treasured monthly issues of FM, most bought at a Brooklyn newsstand Saturday nights while his father picked up a baker’s dozen of hot bagels across the street. 

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You do know a garlic bagel a day keeps the vampires away …?

But we digress.

Success breeds imitation, and monster mags would soon begin popping up everywhere like mushrooms atop a soggy burial mound or flaps of loose flesh on a zombie’s cheeks. But FM was the prototypical first–and far and away the best-loved–of the genre for those who grew up with its sprawling black-and-white photo spreads of Horrorwood’s (sorry, Forry) most fearsome movies along with plot synopses and behind-the-scenes dope … and let’s not forget the reader request pages, appropriately titled YOU AXED FOR IT!.

But times, movie watching trends, and social and publishing climates changed. In 1983, Warren Publishing folded and FM met its demise, the magazine’s 191st issue becoming its last for many years. Still, only a fool would drive a stake through the heart of a great monster mag and expect it to stay there forever. Eventually someone’s bound to stumble onto its gravesite under an evil spell … and then yank it out.

So it was with FM. From the late 90s to 2018, the magazine went through a succession of revivals with varying degrees of success. Then in 2022, after four years in limbo, it was again resurrected by two longtime fans, singer Corey Taylor of the metal band Slipknot, and his business partner Eben Mcgarr a moviemaker, Mad Monster Magazine owner and horror/sci-fi convention organizer.

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Ozzy Osbourne, Prince of Darkness … and fam!

Over the past year, Mcgarr and Taylor’s event-driven approach to building brand awareness has led to a rabid renaissance for Famous Monsters. In January ’23 they brought their first celebration of FM’s revival to the historic Chinese Theater in Hollywood, screening Universal Studios classics like Dracula, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein, Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Creature From the Black Lagoon. Sixty-five years after its creation, we can all make like Colin Clive after the lightning strikes his cobbled-together Frankenstein monster and start hysterically shouting “It’s alive!” before somebody drags us off to be sedated. FM’s legacy is alive and well … okay, undead and well … and what better way to celebrate than by having a festival like no other?

Though the Famous Monsters Fest 2023 (October 13-15 2023) was originally planned for Las Vegas, Mcgarr and Taylor decided to instead make its home in Philadelphia, the city that loves to bite you back, because of one very special person.

Making a rare public appearance, 93-year-old James Warren will be in attendance, along with guests such as famed makeup artist Tom Savini (From Dusk Till Dawn, Friday The 13th), Bonnie Aarons (The Nun) and the legendary Prince Of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne, all of whom will be casting their shadows across Philadelphia to meet with the fans who’ve supported them along the way.

In the inspirational spirit of James and Forry (the Ackermonster left us in 2008), the ’23 Famous Monsters Festival will also offer filmmaking classes and workshops taught by active professionals and included with the price admission. If you’re interested in the movie making process, for example, you can get scream-writing tips from John Russo, co-creator and co-writer of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, or attend a class in movie marketing held by film distributor Tony Cadwell. And that’s not all, fiends. For a complete schedule of events (including some very special packages for which additional tickets must be purchased, you can click here

The Famous Monsters Festival is an event for fans, conceived by fans, to honor FM’s hellacious history and see it into the gory-ous future. Its organizers hope to scare you there!


Bonnie Aarons of the hit horror movie The Nun will be a special guest at this year’s Famous Monsters Festival at Pennsylvania’s Valley Forge Casino Resort.


About the Authors:

Peter Morton is a media professional who is Brand Manager of Famous Monsters of Filmland. 

Jerome Preisler is a slightly warped “monster kid,” NY Times bestselling novelist, and editor-at-large for Hollywood.com


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