Friday, October 7, 2016

Bill Warren, R.I.P.


Author and film historian Bill Warren died this morning following a long, painful illness. He was 73 and he had been suffering from a ghastly array of infections that even a squadron of doctors had been unable to identify. I visited him in the nursing home several times and it just got worse and worse to the point where this past Sunday, he was unable to speak but he waved for me to leave him alone. I was not offended. I understood that he just didn't want visitors to see him like that.

Bill was born in North Bend, Oregon and grew up in Gardiner, Oregon. At an early age, he became fascinated by science-fiction and movies, particularly after seeing The Day the Earth Stood Still. He read avidly and contributed by mail to the legendary Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, which influenced a vast number of folks who became filmmakers, authors and artists. In 1966, he and his wife Beverly moved to Los Angeles where he worked as an assistant for a time to the magazine's editor, Forrest J Ackerman. I met Bill at Ackerman's famous home, The Ackermansion (the first one) sometime around late '66 or early '67. Bill was, by the way, no relation to that magazine's publisher, James Warren.

Bill wrote for the magazine and for countless publications about film, especially movies of a science-fiction or horror nature. At some point, he began compiling data for a wonderful book he would finally publish in 1982 called Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties. It's the best history of such films and it's been reprinted and updated several times since. The latest edition, which came out earlier this year, can be ordered here. (If the price seems steep, take a look at the page count and you'll understand.)

His other books include Set Visits: Interviews with 32 Horror and Science Fiction Filmmakers and The Evil Dead Companion. He wrote for hundreds of different publications, including several stints as a film critic and his contributions to Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide, plus scripts for Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella.

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