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
Fred Adelman's groundbreaking Website
© Andy Copp 2012