Thursday, July 19, 2012


The Grrls
Hello, everybody!  This is Frankie Franken and the MonsterGrrls reporting for Tales From The Monster Shop, and today we have something really cool--an interview with Ray Ferry and Connie Bean, the people behind the fabulous fright-mag Freaky Monsters Magazine!

Back in 1990, Ray Ferry was behind the rebirth of the much-loved Famous Monsters Of Filmland, but since then he's moved on to publish his own classic-horror magazine, Freaky Monsters, a tribute to the Golden Age of Hollywood Horror.  With fun-to-read articles and stunningly beautiful black-and white photographs of the old masters of horror, Freaky Monsters is shaping up to be a classic in its own right.  We all sat down to chat with Mr. Ferry and his lovely fiend Miss Connie Bean, who manages the ongoing workings of Freaky Monsters.

Frankie: Hello there, and thanks for letting us interview you!  Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves and your magazine?

The Master Of Freaky Castle
 Ray Ferry: Hi, MonsterGrrls!  Sorry it took so long to get this finished but you know, we are so busy here at the Freaky Castle all the time, it takes a while to get things together to do something fun like, an interview!

Freaky After Midnight: Their first issue
I'm the editor and publisher of Freaky Monsters Magazine, which I started in 2010 after having been the editor, publisher and trademark owner of Famous Monsters Of Filmland for 18 years, from 1990 when I revived the title until 2008 when circumstances beyond my control forced a change in title ownership.

The Beautiful Queen Of Fiends
Connie Bean:  I guess I am the Freaky Queen!  I am the general manager of Filmland Classics.  I was formerly in entertainment, real estate and marketing, but not all at the same time.  I came into this classic horror business about 11 years ago now when I first met Ray... wow, what a long time it seems!

Bethany Ruthven: Speaking as monsters ourselves, we find your magazine to be the best of its kind.  (Other Grrls nod in agreement)  But it must be said: there's a lot of information available on classic horror, both in print and on the Web.  What does Freaky Monsters hope to bring to the table?

Ray Ferry: I've been a fan of classic horror films since 1958.  My interests were spawned both from a fascination with film and the amazing clarity and depth of the publicity photographs that were released by the studios in the 1930s and '40s to promote the films.  My love and appreciation of that art still looms large and I edit Freaky Monsters to share those fangtastic images with our readers.  Certainly there is no shortage of "coverage" of the old films out there but often what I read from other sources is inaccurate and the images one sees in most magazines and especially on the internet are poor quality low resolution JPEGs that hardly do justice to the subject.  At the same time, I see a strange yet wondrous parallel universe in the classic films and they are a lot of fun.  Freaky Monsters is a world where its okay to be an outcast.  It's more than a magazine... it's a philosophy.  Many readers tell me they read and re-read each issue several times and never tire of it.  With each reading they discover something new. We welcome true-grue fans of all ages.  There's a seat at our table for everyone who appreciates the classics or wants to learn about them.

Connie Bean:  I think Freaky Monsters brings good factual information to the readers.  I help as much as I can with research.  If I can't verify it to be true, then we keep looking to find out what the truth is.  I love to search for new information and am pretty proud of the things we have been able to accomplish.  We bring the Fun back to Classic Horror, Sci-Fi and Fantasy!  That's what we are all about, FREAKY FUN!  We want our readers to show the magazines to their kids and grand kids and then watch the old films and TV shows with them.  We are all about family!  Ray and I both believe that what this world needs right now is a focus on the simpler times.  The times when families talked at the dinner table and focused on each other, not the Internet and their I phones!  We hope that Freaky Monsters opens a new world to some youngsters and takes their parents and grandparents back in time when they had no mortgage and no drama!

Bethany: So a more journalistic approach, backed up with true facts and the best photographs available.  Very commendable.  Full marks to you!

Punkin Nightshade:  Our Mad Doctor's always watchin a lot of horror pictures back at the Monster Shop, so I want to ask this next'un.  What's you folks' opinion of classic horror upside modern horror?  Do you think modern horror pictures is takin themselves too seriously?

Any resemblance to movie investors is just coincidence

Ray Ferry:  I don't know that they take themselves too seriously.  Rather, I think they are made for the express purpose of feeding their investors.  Let me explain:  In its heyday, cinema was an extension of the theater.  Films were the poor man's Broadway.  A single performance could be crafted and mass marketed to much greater profit than live performances.  The studios had to be creative to compete for the audiences' dollar and there was a built-in code that dictated how far the envelope could be pushed before a film was "unacceptable" as entertainment.  Certainly the studios that put out "horror" films were trying to "shock" their audience but with few exceptions the films are "boogeyman" stories... they are probably better described as "thrillers" or "chillers".  The movies they make today are little more than vehicles for merchandising.  If you take a close look at the film industry today you'll see that they don't make movies anymore.  They make thrill rides.  They get the audience in, take them on a wild ride, assault their senses, sell them some popcorn and soda and get them out in 2 hours so they can get the next herd in.  The films don't need to make a profit.  The real money is in the merchandising tie-ins and overseas run.   Because our society has shrugged off nearly every trace of moral consciousness and little is "taboo", today's "horror" films focus on depicting as much violence, gore and visual shock value as they can dream up.  The content is a reflection of our need for bigger and bigger "fixes" to get us to notice or react. 

Connie Bean:  I personally haven't found many of the modern films interesting or fun and really don't care to talk about them or study them.  They just aren't worth the effort to me.  They are too dramatic and edgy and I don't think they are good for our young people.  They also focus too much on the CGI effects they can get and not on the story lines and moral issues that the old films had.   I really just don't like them.  I want to be entertained, not feel trapped in my own skin!

Harriet Von Lupin:  So what's you guys' favorite horror film?

Beautiful monstress
Ray Ferry:  I have several but James Whale's Bride Of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man and Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein are my favorites in the horror genre. There's an atmos-fear in each of them that is evocative.

Connie Bean: I guess my favorite would be Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein.  I love the little bit of comedy thrown in with the horror.  I really don't get into the super-serious side of anything.

Frankie:  How did you two become fans of horror movies?  What's your earliest experiences with them?

Ray Ferry:  I started watching them on TV when the Shock package was first aired back in 1958.  I recall that a few years later Castle Films released a few titles in 50 foot 8mm home movie versions and I managed to get a copy of Bride Of Frankenstein.  I ran that film over and over again and studied the lighting, the staging, the makeup because I found it fascinating.  I learned at a very young age how to splice film because one evening I was watching BOF and I put the old Bell and Howell projector in "frame hold" mode then walked up to the screen to study a particular frame.  Imagine my shock when after about a minute the heat from the projector lamp burned up the film and I watched in horror as the frame bubbled, browned and burned up!  Later I was able to record part of the sound from a TV airing of BOF on my father's Wollansack reel-to-reel tape recorder and jury-rigged a belt system to synchronize the sound to the scenes that were in the Castle Film copy I had.  Unfortunately I wrecked both the projector and the recorder in the process.  There was a definite sense of wonder and appreciation of cinema in those days before the VCR and today's digital technology.   It may seem great to have favorite films at your fingertips but with that comes a loss of anticipation and uniqueness.  Too much of anything devalues its worth.

Whole lotta woman
Connie Bean:  I guess the first one I remember would have been when I was about 5 or so.  My parents wouldn't let me see horror films but I had an aunt and uncle that I used to spend the night with, often on the weekends, and we would stay up and watch movies.  I  remember watching Attack of the 50 Foot Woman and spending the next few hours looking out the window to make sure she wasn't coming down the street when I wasn't paying attention!  I loved that movie!  I was also afraid to go to the drive-in one night a few weeks later with my aunt and uncle because I was afraid that woman would come and grab the car!  Those were the days!

Harriet:  Wish we had a drive-in.  There's nothing like food out in the open air.  (slurps)

Frankie:  In your opinions, what can be done to make horror films better these days?

Ray Ferry:  Probably nothing.  The public has "progressed" to the point that's its highly unlikely a modern audience, especially kids, wouldn't be bored with a "horror" film of the old school.  The whole movie-going experience has changed.  The grandious movie palaces of old are gone, the "play bill" of an A film, a B film, a newsreel, cartoons and 2-reeler comedy that would fill an afternoon at the local "Bijou" have been replaced by sterile boxes in multiplexes where you sit through 15 or 20 minutes of commercials followed by a 2-hour feature and then get shuffled off to the food court or parking lot.  People today have the attention span of a fly.  There's just too much thrown at them.  That's why the films are such an assault on the senses.  They have to be.  Granted, there have been a few films that attempt to tell intelligent stories and emulate what cinema used to be but they are few and far between and usually not in the "horror" vein.  For all that technology has advanced, I'd prefer to see the classics restored, digitally clean up the soundtracks and re-release them as they were meant to be seen.

Connie Bean: Go back to basics and tell a story instead of worrying so much about the special effects.  It's just too much and it's gone too far.  Stop remaking the things that are classics because they are "classy"... yes, some of the old stuff is a little hokey, but better hokey than absurd and horrifying.  You don't need to "kill" the audience to make a point, just make the point without all the excess!  Horror doesn't have to be horrific.  We have enough horrific in our everyday lives and our children watch too much of that on the news, Internet and TV.  Let's get back to fun horror; that kind that scares you with what is not seen!

Bethany:  I'm more of a reader than a movie viewer, so I want to ask this: how do you feel about the Twilight series and other types of horror books written for young people?

Ray Ferry: I don't follow them so I can't comment.  But I feel a certain alarm that vampirism is often the focus of these series.  The need to associate one's self with cults that embrace death is disturbing especially since it's young people that are the main followers.  In the case of a story like the original Dracula, the vampire is a lost soul.  Its need to consume human blood is a curse, not a delicacy.  It is a foul thing that destroys life and is defiant of God.  But contemporary depictions have elevated it to "rock star" status as being powerful, invulnerable and indominable.  It is more a reflection of today's obsession with material wealth and power than good vs. evil.  The vampire has become the new "gangster."

"How To Join A Death Cult Without Really Trying"
Connie Bean: To be fair, I haven't read or seen them.  I don't have time to read much of anything but Freaky Monsters and the projects we work on.  I will occasionally take the time to read about them, and I am just not impressed enough to bother with it.  I just really stick with the classic horror.  I don't want to feel bludgeoned by a book, TV show or movie--I want to be scared but not mentally exhausted!

Bethany: Well, for my own part, I am a vampire, but I'm strictly on the bottle--AB-negative, for preference.  And I'm not a death cult member.  I was asked to be Blood Queen of the Vengeful Temple Of Magog once, but I refused on moral grounds.

Punkin: What you mean?

Bethany: I wasn't joining any cult that would have me as a member.
Frankie:  Freaky Monsters is (as of now) on its eleventh issue.  What are your plans for the future of Freaky Monsters?

For classic horror fans, a sanctuary
Ray Ferry:  We'll keep publishing it as long as our readers and fans want it.  For as much material as is available on the internet, I still have a lot of stills from classic films that are quite rare and that even some diehard fans probably haven't seen.  But even with the most popular photos, Freaky Monsters is aimed at casual fans and especially kids who are not familiar with the films.  My main focus is in producing the highest quality photo magazine on the market.  I'm often criticized by the horror "know-it-alls" for not filling the magazine with in-depth investigative articles but they don't get it -- I don't publish Freaky Monsters for them.  I publish it for the youngsters and the young at heart.  If someone wants to dig down into the muck and learn all the "secrets" about a particular actor or film, there are countless books out there to read.  We often hear from readers who write to say a photo or article they saw in Freaky Monsters made them go out and get a copy of the film to watch it.  You'd be amazed at how many fans haven't seen many popular old films.

Something for every fiend
But the biggest compliment I get is from older fans when they write to say "I pick up a copy of Freaky Monsters and lose myself in it.  For a few hours, I'm 10 years old again.  I'm back in a time when life was simple.  No mortgage, no job, no kids, no worries.  And for that, I thank you."  We also provide a bonding experience for parents and grandparents to share a spooky old movie with their kids and generally the kids, especially the really young ones, enjoy the magazine and the films as much as we did way back when.  Parents don't have to worry about leaving a copy of Freaky Monsters on the table because it's 100% kid-friendly.  Maybe I'm stuck in the old days but I think we provide a much-needed refuge from the high tech world.  Like all great art, if film isn't appreciated in its original form it will become lost.  Today we have the technology to sculpt a better and more accurate David, we could create an enhanced and spectacular digital projection on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel that would shame Michelangelo's time-worn effort. We could restock the Louvre with digitally magnificent remakes of every painting that hangs there.  But because we can, should we?

Films are no less an art form than painting or sculpture or literature or architecture yet they are constantly being remade.  Leave the classics alone.  Part of their charm is that they are a reflection of when they were made.  They reflect who we were, what we felt, what was important, how we laughed and they should be celebrated and studied in that vein as much as any other art form.  Unfortunately there is little profit for today's investors in re releasing or preserving classic films.  But, at least in the domain of classic monsters, they are safe from extinction and are celebrated for just what they are in the pages of Freaky Monsters.  As we say in Transylvania: "There's no ghoul like an old ghoul!"

Connie Bean:  We will keep going and going and going... I hear the drumming of that little Beaster Bunny now!  As long as someone has an interest in reading our magazines, we will keep publishing.  We love our Freaky Monsters! 

Ray Ferry & Connie Bean: Monster fans united

And that's our interview!  Freaky Monsters is available wherever fine classic horror mags are sold, or simply go to their website and buy direct!  (And tell 'em the MonsterGrrls sent you!)  We really appreciate their taking the time to talk to us, and if you're looking for a cool horror mag to read, pick up an issue of Freaky Monsters today!

We'll be back soon with more cool Tales From The Monster Shop!

Francesca "Frankie" Franken,
Bethany Ruthven,
Petronella "Punkin" Nightshade
and Harriet Von Lupin,