Robert E. Seletsky - Reviewer

Judging from everyone else's bio, I'd say I'm now the most decayed contributor to SGM (not that it's a bad thing), having been born in New York during late 1955. From the beginning, life pulled me in two directions: classical music (I hate that term), and horror films (I hate that one too, come to think of it). At age six, two important things happened to me, one in each category: I began playing the violin, and I saw my first horror film on television: The Black Sleep. I was petrified by the images, terrified even to turn the TV off, a real turning point in my life. Needless to say, I seldom missed another fright film airing as a kid, though they were scarce in the cinema where I lived--and anyway, I hated when other kids would laugh and yell, drowning out the dialogue and ruining the mood. Professionally, music won out, and I have since becomes a relatively well-known musicologist and baroque violinist.

With the exception of one colleague, I am seldom "out" to my peers about my fright film passion, invariably getting uneasy looks when I reveal myself. With the exception of an article published when I was eighteen in Photon, a Cinefantastique-like magazine that didn't last long, my only writing until recently has consisted of papers and articles in my field, as well as performing in and directing period instrument orchestras. Ah-hah, as you read this, I can feel the same uneasy stares about my professional life as I did from my professional colleagues about my horror film enthusiasm. Anyway, with the advent of the internet, I started making my thoughts known about film through reviews, and by generally annoying folks like David Skal, Scott MacQueen, Tim Lucas (and Alan, who has been very good about it) so I could obtain very nit-picking details about the whereabouts of prints, correct aspect ratios, and the problems or virtues in DVD transfers that no one wants to hear about. Come to think of it, professionally, I do the same sort of thing. I hate to see important details glossed over and errors/falsehoods accepted or promoted as fact--the attitude that runs current US government policy (June 2006).

horror classic What do I like? Well, there too, it's a very mixed bag. I started on whatever cheap stuff was being shown on TV in the early 1960s: Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake, and the occasional great film like Carnival of Souls or Castle of Blood, Nightmare Castle, The Horrible Doctor Hichcock (okay, I'm a Barbara Steele nut). The Universal films were only shown at 4 AM so that was delayed for a few years. Finally one day, Dracula was shown at 4 PM: I never rushed home from school so fast! A few years later when the Universals became standard broadcast fare, I started taping their soundtracks on an old reel-to-reel tape recorder. I did the same when the Hammers started to appear on the air--albeit with nasty cuts. The upshot is that I can recite the dialogue of virtually every Universal and most Hammer films I have ever seen, and correct even a single word in someone's else's quote: young minds are very impressionable, and being a fanatic, I listened to my tapes countless times. My tastes also included Italian horror masters like Bava and Freda. You can imagine my deranged joy at the appearance of the VCR, and, needless to say, my palate expanded to encompass brilliant--and messier--films by Argento, Romero, Carpenter, Craven, and still messier ones like Re-animator, Hellraiser and the like. Oh yeah, I developed a taste for Clive Barker's fiction as well. I live in Boston with a partner/spouse of 22 years who likes horror, but sadly, without my demented passion. That's probably enough for now. I'm still holding my breath until someone finds a decent complete negative of L'Orribile Segreto del Dottor Hichcock and puts it on DVD.

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