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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Robert Bloch Remembrance

Uncle Robert, I hardly knew you
August 6, 11:30 AMMilwaukee Horror Movies ExaminerAaron W. Tellock

One of Wisconsin's most infamous writers actually has little association with his own claim to fame. Mr. Robert Bloch wrote the story that horror/mystery legend Alfred Hitchcock would later turn into one of the greatest horror films in the history of horror, although Bloch is a name seldom associated with the film. It also just so happens to be that Robert Bloch took an interest in my great aunt Marion Holcombe and in 1940 they were married. Together they raised a daughter and moved to Weyauwega, Wisconsin where he would later write the story for which he was best known. Psycho is by far his most notable work partly because of the great success of the film adaptation, but Robert Bloch wrote numerous short stories and even episodes for a radio program as well as his many novels.

I never met him, partly because his marriage to my great-aunt Marion dissolved in the mid-1960’s but mostly because he had moved out to Hollywood to pursue a career in screenwriting some years before that. I’ve heard stories about my mother and her siblings going to visit his home in Weyauwega when they were younger. He was a humorous man despite his chilling horror stories and fantastic science fiction adventures. I’ve read in all of his biographies on the net and in his book about how nice he was and how much loved his family, and from what I’ve heard he truly did. The most common story is about his desk, a giant slab of oak that he sat behind creating his masterworks including one of my favorite stories, Terror.

I think about everything that I was told about the great-uncle that I never met and the most renowned feature about him was his attachment to reality. Success never tainted him or changed him; he took everything with quiet dignity and respect for the craft that he so delicately evolved into what it is today. He was one of the first to take horror outside of the supernatural during a time when the supernatural was the topic of most horror tales. His stories influenced generations of writers to follow just as H.P. Lovecraft influenced Bloch himself when he first began penning stories for Weird Tales literary magazine. I think that all authors are influenced by someone, their favorite author, having read a lot Bloch’s work in my teens and early twenties; I guess my own work was probably influenced by him.

Robert Bloch passed away in September of 1994 after a long battle with cancer.


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