As of next month I’ll have been publishing online for 16 years. In that time I’ve seen countless horror websites come and go, most of which will not be missed by me or probably anyone else (I’ll never forget the nineties-era online critic whose “reviews” consisted of quotes from John McCarty). Below you’ll find listings for some departed horror-themed sites that I feel were worthy (obviously the John McCarty parrot site is not among them!).
I admittedly wrote for a few of the following, but for the most part the dot-coms identified below were simply web sites I liked to read and/or watch. There are several sites I wanted to list but didn’t, as I was unable to uncover any info on them (such as a multi-million dollar horror website bankrolled by a prominent Hollywood mogul in the late nineties). Of those web sites whose info I did manage to uncover, I’ll confess that a lot of the information I’ve gathered is based on memory and hearsay, and so should be taken with a grain–several grains, actually–of salt.
THE GIST: A UK-based online bookstore. I can’t tell you much about it because frankly I don’t think I ever checked it out. My reasons for liking the site were purely selfish: it featured an essay I wrote about author Daniel P. Mannix, on which the webmaster, as I recall, did a terrific job in terms of layout and illustrations.
PROBABLE REASON IT FAILED: Your guess is as good as mine!
NAME: The Curse of Latomba
THE GIST: A website devoted to the most unique horror novel of the 1980s, the Southern tabloid-styled CURSE OF LATOMBA by “Edward Hyde.” This site detailed the oft-vitriolic reactions of various authors who were sent review copies of the novel (including William Golding, Louis L’Amour and Ken Kesey) and contained a link to the original Twilight Zone Magazine article that first alerted me to CURSE back in 1988.
PROBABLE REASON IT FAILED: Actually, I don’t believe this site ever made it to the net, as the only proof I have of its existence are Xeroxed copies of the various web pages, kindly sent to me a few years ago by Mr. Hyde.
THE GIST: This UK-based site, focused on classic horror movies, was structured as a profusely illustrated online periodical, with a new “issue” each month. It was a bit overly reminiscent of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND in its emphasis on old-time horror cinema and use of words like “Fang-tastic,” but its articles (which included a reposting of my CHRISTMAS AND HORROR piece) were usually always worth reading.
PROBABLE REASON IT FAILED: The whole enterprise evidently cost a fair amount of money, and not a little time on the part of its editor/webmaster. I’m actually surprised he kept it up as long as he did!
NAME: Japanese Cinema Classics
THE GIST: A short-lived companion site to the late SuperHappyFun (see below) that specialized in lovingly digitized DVRs of quite a few Japanese cult films.
PROBABLE REASON IT FAILED: There was reportedly a lot of infighting among its proprietors.
NAME: The John Shirley Message Board
THE GIST: This message board, run by the famed horror and sci fi novelist/screenwriter John Shirley, offered some of the most stimulating political discourse I’ve encountered online. Shirley, you see, is a hardcore liberal, while most of his readers, it appears, are Ron Paul-worshipping libertarians. This led to quite a few provocative arguments, along with much chatter about interesting topics relevant to horror and sci fi fans (it was here that I first learned about the amazing CODEX SERAPHINIANUS).
PROBABLE REASON IT FAILED: Shirley apparently got fed up with all the libertarian banter.
ALSO: The message board is still up, but is now titled “Minds in Collision” (an excellent name for its previous incarnation), and as such is clogged with intrusive ads and has very few posters.
NAME: Neon Madness
THE GIST: A webzine run by filmmaker Andrew Copp (of THE MUTILATION MAN) that among other things featured strong reviews of quite a few cult horror flicks. I know I’ll always remember the site’s home page, which had the exploding head from SCANNERS played over and over on a never-ending loop!
PROBABLE REASON IT FAILED: No idea, although on his personal website (coppfilms.weebly.com) Andrew Copp seems pretty adamant that Neon Madness is “finished.”
NAME: Pimpadelic Wonderland
THE GIST: A gaudily designed site devoted to cult cinema of the 1970s, run by a guy who really knew his stuff. The site suffered from the fact that it was updated quite infrequently, although the amazing Video Library was compensation enough, being one of the most mind-blowing collections of cinematic dementia I’ve ever encountered (I was the source, FYI, for several of its videos!).
PROBABLE REASON IT FAILED: The guy who ran the site appears to have become quite distracted by his extra-curricular activities, being a video DJ and programmer for the LA-based Cinefamily movie club.
NAME: The Spam Cam
THE GIST: A chunk of spam left out with a camera recording it as it moldered and decayed, the rate of which you could compare with that of other decaying foods (bananas, pickles, etc). Yes, that adequately sums up the “Spam Cam,” which is of interest to me because it was once an adjunct to Fright.com–and remains one of the grossest things I’ve ever seen.
PROBABLE REASON IT FAILED: The people who ran the site (i.e. the people that initially ran this site) lost interest.
THE GIST: Until it shut down a few years ago this invitingly designed site was the premiere source for hard-to-find foreign and cult DVRs. Run by Cashiers du Cinemart’s Mike White, SuperHappyFun’s DVRs were reasonably priced, of generally good quality and overall well worth the cost.
PROBABLE REASON IT FAILED: In a mass email Mike explained his reasons for shuttering the site, but I’ve forgotten what they were.
THE GIST: A horror movie review site that began in September of last year and went dark four months later. I was among those who wrote for it, and found the experience a (mostly) pleasant one.
PROBABLE REASON IT FAILED: The entire enterprise was a bit overly ambitious for a startup outfit, with around a dozen (paid) writers, a forum and an assortment of “horror babe of the week” models. Still, I believe the site had potential, and could have gone the distance if only its proprietors had stuck with it.
NAME: Witching Hour Video
THE GIST: Another excellent web-based source for hard-to-find horror and cult DVRs.
PROBABLE REASON IT FAILED: I’ve heard that the guy who ran the site died a few years ago–can’t confirm it, though.