Watching Famous Monster, a documentary about the world’s most famous sci-fi fan (he even coined the term sci-fi!) Forrest J Ackerman, who died last December, I felt suitably humbled: my geek chic pales in comparison to this guy.
Born in 1916, Ackerman was a Los Angeles based writer who, among his many accomplishments, founded the science fiction genre, edited the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, was potentially the world’s greatest collector of sci-fi and horror memorabilia and was once present during a talk by HG Welles.
During filming in 2007, the makers of Famous Monster found a clearly frail Forry living in his Acker-mini-mansion (a much pared-down version of his once infamous shrine to film merchandise known as the Ackermansion) with much of his enthusiasm for the world of science fiction still intact.
Famous fans such as John Landis and Ray Harryhausen give their thoughts on the man while photos and clips of the Ackermonster in action keep things moving. Soundbites from both Ackerman and the talking heads give a decent overview of his life, though the brevity of the film at 48mins and the lack of some meatier interviewees – Spielberg and Lucas are mentioned but never seen – does mean it lacks a bit of punch.
As an introduction to a man who lived for his passion and happily passed on the torch to the younger fans, Famous Monster is a fun and informative bit of merchandise that should be of interest to even the most casual sci-fi or horror geek.