Sunday, February 12, 2012

CritCon Figurehead has Passed on. R.I.P. Fred Adelman.

I logged onto Facebook today to startling news that unfortunately I had felt in my gut for a while now. Long time presence in the horror fandom community FRED ADELMAN had passed away from his long term fight with Leukemia. Fred had told me a few years ago in confidence he was suffering from the horrible disease.

I met Fred on the message boards of DVD Maniacs (Now AV Maniacs, which I unfortunately very seldom frequent like I used to)and his breadth of knowledge was apparent in any conversation. Perhaps every couple of days between that place and Facebook I have probably talked to him since capacity or another. He was an opinionated, surely son of a bitch. Make no mistake. If you crossed Adelman, he let you know right off the bat, and made sport in cutting down those who pissed him off. As he got progressively more sick, it became apparent that he was more and more angry as his time online became much more agitated. To put it mildly, he made a lot of enemies in the cyberworld in the last year or two through picking fights and never being afraid to stir the proverbial pot. But I never believed he was one out there doing it in malice, like so many people in fandom I have seen come and go. I think he was bored, sick and and always was highly opinionated about everything, especially things he cared about passionately. 

But lets not let Fred be remembered for the crazy spats he had in the last years of his life, though many will. Let's look long and hard at the legacy in the genre he left. And it is a hefty one. Fred Adelman was one of the first feet on the ground ZINE publishers, though all too often he is not mentioned along side the early and important names like Jack Stevenson or Bill Landis. His zine CRITICAL CONDITION (CritCon for short) was started in 1982 and ran till 1985 was one of the first to really talk about movies we hold dear now. He was going to the New Jersey and New york theaters and seeing the sleaze and trash first run and writing about it immediately. Then he was there for the VHS boom right as it hit reviewing these movies as they came out. Which is when he started collecting his now insane and famous library of VHS (at one time listing at over 7500 titles alone). He went back into zine publishing again in the late 80s and into the 90's but stopped once it became apparent that the magazine publishing world was awash in rip off artists and hucksters that never paid. But this eventually let to Fred being once again among the first to open a website devoted to exploitation film and Critical Condition online was born. The website is so much more than just Fred's reviews, it is library and resource of the VHS era in one handily place online. There are thousands of reviews of movies that are talked about no where else. Scans of artwork and admats no one else have, and most importantly his long time pet project the history of VHS distribution companies told through there box cover scans. 

Which is probably one of the most in depth web articles online anywhere about the history of home video in any form. The horror fandom owes a great debt of gratitude to Fred Adelman for his knowledge and his website. The VHS collecting community that has sprung up in the last few years definitely own him because he practically built that community himself through his website and what it has spread through the years. He is one of those "behind the scenes" dudes who deserved some recognition for his place in the machine. Fred kept the site up to date weekly right up until the end of 2011 with new scans and reviews. 

All the while continuing to auction off his rare collection on WENSY.COM to raise money for his medical bills. From what I gather he went into the hospital in very early January 2012 and passed away soon after (I do not have an exact date I am afraid). 

The internet is a weird place. I never met Fred Adelman face to face. But I talked to him almost daily in one form or another. I considered him a friend. We traded movies often, and when he decided to sell his rare ad mat collection I scrambled to find the money to buy it, but couldn't do it (it went to a good home I was assured). I feel like I knew him, but at the same time feel like I never knew him enough. My facebook has been too quiet for the last month, and I will miss the conversations I am not going to have with him gone.

Fred Adelman's groundbreaking Website

© Andy Copp 2012


  1. Very well done article. I am gonna miss Fred. He also not only understood me when it came to my obsession with the obscure movies, but was never afraid to be blunt when giving me advice. With most peeps, that wouldn't work. But, with Fred, it was great. I loved the convos I had with him on Facebook, too.

    If anyone does a tribute to Fred, I want to be a part of it. The world of exploitation is now way too quiet without him in it. RIP Fred and I'll watch some movies this week in honor of you.......Gonna miss ya, buddy....

  2. Hey Andy, this is Jack J from dvdmaniacs. Good post. So sad. I don't know if he got more cranky as time passed by, maybe he did and maybe I was just lucky as I never ever had any problems with him. To me he was the nicest guy. He'll be missed. :(

  3. I apologize for your comments taking so long to post. Blogspot was not telling me I had comments awaiting moderation. So I did not see them until today.

  4. Don't know if you have seen it Andy, but Fred is always alive and kicking. Some scumbag hacked his Facebook account and tried to collect money fraudulently with this shitty move.

    You can read the complete details here (it's the fourth one before the last).

    Strangely I was on his website yesterday and found it curious to see it updated. I sure know why now...

    One thing for sure, if someone can make this scumbag pay this is certainly Fred.

  5. Yeah I saw that this weekend too. I posted on Facebook about it, but actually took it back down. Not really my place to go saying anything about it publicly.

    Now I am not sure how to handle what I wrote on this blog. Should I just take it down? Write another thing explaining what happened? One again I am not really sure how to proceed. Glad the man is still with us.

  6. Let it here as it shows you care for Fred. A follow up would do the job to explain the situation I think, but of course this is just my oppinion.

  7. It is indeed very strange. Surreal to say the least. I posted about Fred's "death" as well. Not sure what to do what that either. I mean I see what you mean, Jimmy, but it could "help" keep spreading this false piece of news if some new reader reads it some time in the future and misses the update. :/