As I'm typing this, I have my copies of three books in my lap - Horror Holocaust, The Deep Red Horror Handbook, and Beyond Horror Holocaust - each one looking at the history of Horror cinema with an approach that can only be called Guerrilla Analysis; cheap, fevered, riddled with typos (except for the last one, a very polished production), crammed with b&w photos that spill over into margins, and so filled with unbridled enthusiasm for the subject that the passion all but drips from the pages. Like blood. And their author / editor, Chas. Balun, liked blood. Lots and lots and lots of blood.
When Balun started the magazine Deep Red in the early 80s, he made all other horror publications seem quaint in comparison. For Balun, Splatter mattered; he was covering the subgenre, especially the giallos and other Italian releases, before virtually anyone else, and the major players in publishing had to sit up and pay attention. Before the decade was out, he was producing articles and columns for Fangoria and, more fittingly, its short-lived sister publication GoreZone. His regular stint for the latter was entitled "Piece o' Mind," and you'd be forgiven for carrying the image of Balun digging into his own skull to fling grey matter at you. No one would ever make the mistake of calling Chas Balun subtle.
But here's what some others have called him, taken from the logrolling quotes on the cover of his 2003 release, Beyond Horror Holocaust (a sequel to the 1986 edition)...
A leading cult hero, film critic and author - Los Angeles Times
Chas. Balun is the King of Splatter Films! - Lucio Fulci, director
Chas. Balun is the Howard Stern of Splatter. - Anthony Timpone, Fangoria editor
I'm not sure the horror film has ever been graced with a pair of eyes, a voice or a sensitivity like his. - Jack Ketchum, author
It was announced today that Balun passed away on December 18 after a lengthy battle with cancer. You just know that had to piss him off, if for no other reason than he would have preferred a death that would have been, in his beloved term, a chunkblower. I'd say Rest in Peace, Chas., but I'm guessing that you'd find that pretty boring. So instead, may you go somewhere that only the most horrible of atrocities are happening...but only if they let you watch. And offer suggestions.
Now, may we please get out of this year without any more deaths?