You don’t expect friendship to arrive in a simple manila envelope but back in about 2002 or so – that is exactly what happened to me.
At the time I was working for an online horror portal called Creature Corner – some of you who have been around long enough may remember those days – and before the days of digital screeners, it was not uncommon for the daily mail to include a few movies sent from PR firms, studios and in some cases, the filmmakers themselves.
This particular day I received something from a Robert Green Hall – turns out he was an FX guy who had just recently finished his first directorial effort – a project titled Lightning Bug. It was a burnt DVDrom – the title of the film handwritten on it – the front of the case a simple postcard with the key art on it. An attached sticky note that said something like “give it a watch and see what you think”. So, naturally – I did just that.
I loved that little film – still do to this day but what I loved, even more, was the friendship that arrived in that mailing as well. I proclaimed my love for the film – both to Robert personally and to the cyber world via my review – and thus began a friendship that ended unexpectedly this week when I heard the news that Robert had died.
The weird thing about this new digital age is that you can have close, personal relationships with people – yet hardly know them. This is how I would classify my friendship with Robert. We spoke via messenger – stayed in touch electronically, although I had lost touch with him the last few years.
We did meet in person once – and it was a fantastic experience – and if you’ll indulge me – I would like to share that experience with you now.
Robert had put together a popular web series called Fear Clinic that if memory serves me correctly at one point aired on FearNet (anyone remember them) and the decision had been made to expand it into a feature film. One evening I get a text or message or email – I don’t recall which but – Robert reached out to let me know he would be coming into my neck of the woods to make this film – and he wanted to make sure that we found time to see each other while he was here.
They were going to be in town several weeks shooting – giving us ample time to work something out. Arrangements were made – and on a cold Ohio winter night – myself and a carload of horror geeks made the drive to the film set to watch Robert in action.
He greeted me with the type of bear hug reserved for family members you haven’t seen in years – and he excitedly led me around to all the different set pieces that had been built in this abandoned building they were using. Introduced me and my cohorts to the array of talented people who had joined him on this particular journey – Robert Englund, Robert Kurtzman, Corey Taylor, well – you can check out the cast list for yourself – but he had amassed an amazing pool of talent to support his vision. But – the thing I remember most is that he dropped what he was doing – found a quiet place he and I could talk – closed the door and just visited with me. Him and I – chatting like old high school buddies – it was special. HE was special.
Although we didn’t see each other often – didn’t talk on a regular basis – the news of his sudden passing hit me like a brick. I always thought we would get to hang together again at some point – at a convention perhaps, or another movie set. I watched his career closely, often thinking I should reach out and check in with him but he always seemed so busy – and now I will never be able to talk to him again.
As I spent the last few days remembering him I knew I had to put my admiration for Rob into words somehow but didn’t want to just recount Rob’s many film achievements and herald his amazing skills or remind you all of how important he was to the genre – I decided I just wanted to take a moment a tell you about a couple of kindred spirits that found each other because of a very talented man’s little film – and their shared love for all things spooky and bloody. I miss you already old friend – rest well.