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Site of the Week: Classic-Horror

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Nate Yapp isn’t like most 25-year-olds. While horror fans his age were raised on diets of Freddy and Jason, he was brought up to love Orloff and Wolf Man. “I blame Mom,” he writes on his “Editor in Creep” profile on Classic-Horror.com. The site was launched back in 1999 when, while writing a high school paper on horror films Yapp discovered most sites labeled Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street as classics. “That just didn’t sit right with me,” he says. So he started a website devoted to his classics — Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Bela Lugosi, Lou Chaney Jr. — though he admits he may have been naive at the time to assume no one else on the Internet shared his love of classic horror. “There were actually a great many sites and message boards wholly devoted to the topic,” he says. “Had I known that, I’m not sure I would’ve put so much effort into my site.”

No matter. Classic-Horror, which now receives upwards of 20,000 unique visitors per month, is considered by many, including Roger Ebert, to be a high authority on the genre’s golden oldies, featuring a meticulous database of each of the era’s writers, actors and directors. “I’m a librarian’s son,” Yapp admits, “so I’m genetically predisposed to cataloging minutiae.”

He’s also a realist that recognizes not everybody wanting to read about horror will visit a site solely devoted to films pre-1968. To that end, Classic-Horror posts a range of stories and reviews spanning the dawn of cinema all the way up to current movies. “I made the decision that my own interpretation of ‘classic’ is just one among millions and that I wouldn’t limit the site’s coverage of a film simply because I didn’t see it as a classic,” he explains. “A review of a newer film draws more brand-new readers than that of an older film.” And Yapp does have a hidden motive: “Once we’ve lured them in, I hope they stick around to find something they love in our coverage of older films — I am always trying to sing the gospel of Robert Wise’s The Body Snatcher, for instance.”

But for Yapp, Classic-Horror is about more than spreading his obsession with Robert Wise — it’s about showing proper recognition and respect to a genre that has been long overlooked by the mainstream media. “No other genre so viscerally deals with the social unconscious on such an immediate basis,” he says. “Most great horror starts with a question from a director or screenwriter — what’s scary to me right now? And often they tap into a larger societal fear in answering that question. Poltergeist, for example, questions the safety of the suburban lifestyle.” Besides, he adds, “being scared is something we need to let ourselves do more.”

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