Letter to the Editor

Legend Lost in Glendale

On New Year’s Day, the world lost renowned film scholar David J. Skal in an automobile accident in Glendale.

Authorities believe that the head-on collision at Glenoaks Boulevard and Elm Street – captured by a surveillance camera – was caused by another driver who was subsequently arrested on charges of reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In an instant, I lost a kindred spirit who I had the pleasure of interviewing for a book on German director F.W. Murnau, best known for the silent film classic “Nosferatu.

Though David and I grew up a world apart – he in Cleveland and I in Glendale and Montrose – we shared an affinity for Gothic horror, nurtured by the fan magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland and the syndicated television series Shock Theatre that showcased Universal horror films like “Dracula” and “Frankenstein.” On Saturday afternoons, we spent our respective allowances at the local cinema (remember the Capitol and Glendale theatres on Brand Boulevard?) screening low-budget thrillers like “The Pit and the Pendulum” with Vincent Price and “The Terror” with Boris Karloff.

A graduate of Ohio University, Skal lent his engaging, erudite and witty prose style to books like Hollywood Gothic (1990), The Monster Show (1993), Dark Carnival (1995) and his masterpiece Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, The Man Who Wrote “Dracula” (2016).

Oddly, David Skal and I never met. But we began our respective journeys in the blood-drenched pages of Dracula, in a land beyond the forest, past the barren trees, rocky crags and winding river of the Borgo Pass, where the river is deep and its waters are red.

Les Hammer