From EOFFTV - The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film and Television
Compiled by Kevin Lyons
PART ONE: NEW EOFFTV FAQ
So what's all this "new EOFFTV" about?
EOFFTV was launched a decade ago in 2001 and I've never really been happy with the way it looked and worked. For the past couple of years I've been experimenting with Mediawiki, the software that powers Wikipedia, with a view to using it for a new version of the site and finally, after many false starts and miss-steps, this is it. It's already better looking than the old site and has a lot more functionality. And that's just the beginning - plans are afoot to add a lot more features that will make searching, listing and categorising the data easier and more useful.
So where are all the pages from the original site? I'm sure there was a lot more entries on here before...
Yes there was. They're being moved over bit at a time - and while I'm at it, I'm taking the opportunity to correct, upgrade and generally clean up the pages before their added to the new version of the site.
And the old site - what's happening to that?
For the moment, not much. It's staying where it is but every time a page is moved the old site's equivalent page will be redirected here. Eventually the old site will wither away until everything turns up here. In future any new entries will be added here and the existing site will no longer be edited or corrected.
That's right, at the moment, they don't. There are currently two priorities for the new EOFFTV, each with equal weight:
- Move the existing site over to this new version.
- Eliminate all the red (dead) links by adding new content.
Clearly both of these are going to take some time and in the case of the latter may never be entirely resolved. I'm working on it as fast as I can but, as ever, there's only one of me working on the site and it will take as long as it takes.
So if you're using Mediawiki now - collaborative software that anyone can edit - why make life tougher for yourself by locking the site for editing and why aren't you accepting new editors?
Because it's very early days yet and until I see exactly how all this works out I don't want to run the risk of the data becoming contaminated either by spammers, deliberate vandals or well-meaning contributors simply making errors. In due course I may well open the site up a little though it'll never be like Wikipedia, a site that absolutely every visitor can edit.
Am I imagining it or is the site rather slow?
Yes, it can be. Bear with me, again I'm looking into improving this.
OK, what's next?
The most immediate step is to populate the new site with updated versions of the existing records. Along the way, a lot of those annoying red links will vanish too. After that, who knows...
PART TWO: GENERAL FAQ
What is the Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film and Television?
EOFFTV - The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Films and Television is an attempt to create a comprehensive database of science fiction, horror, fantasy and animation in cinema and television. Casting its net back well over 100 years and across every film industry in the world, EOFFTV is truly global in scope and encompasses everything from the first flickering black and white images to state-of-the-art multimedia presentations.
The project was started in 1980 when, inspired by Walt Lee's groundbreaking Reference Guide to Fantastic Films (you'll find its influence on virtually every page in EOFFTV) I began to update that seminal work, initially simply for my own enjoyment. As the project grew, however, it became clear that a major overhaul of Lee's work was under way and EOFFTV was born. Initially the project was going to be made available on CD-ROM (remember them?) but it soon became clear that its scope was well beyond anything that optical media could ever deal with. So in early 1995 I started looking ways to make the huge off-line databases accessible as an online resource and the long process of transferring the data to its new home began at the end of December 2000, the first version of site going public at the end of January 2001.
What will I find in EOFFTV?
A huge and constantly growing reference guide to the fantastique in media - science fiction, horror, fantasy and animation is represented in film, television and multimedia.
How large is EOFFTV?
You can see exactly how many entries there are on the site by checking the stats panel on the main page.
How do you decide what gets an entry and what doesn't?
The trickiest question of them all...
It would be tempting to suggest that if you've made it this far you already have some idea of what constitutes "fantastic film and television" but it's only fair that I at least try to come up with some sort of working definition.
In Reference Guide to Fantastic Films, Walt Lee noted that "a precise definition is difficult" before attempting to clarify things with: "For the purposes of this work, fantastic films are defined as those motion pictures depicting or strongly implying significant exceptions to man's conception of natural reality." It works for Lee and it works for me too - at least up to a point.
Lee's definition is certainly useful in defining science fiction and fantasy and I would hope that no-one would fail to recognise SF and fantasy when they saw it - but it falls down slightly when dealing with horror. Only the most picky of genre purists would deny that films like Silence of the Lambs, The (1990) and Scream (1996) are horror films, yet the events the depict - no matter how far-fetched - are not quite "depicting or implying significant exceptions to man's conception of natural reality." So for horror, a slightly different definition needs to apply - for inclusion here as a horror film, a movie must have set out with the express intention of horrifying, revolting or disturbing its audience. This is, admittedly, a broad definition but it does allow for the inclusion of films such as Last House on the Left, The (1972) and Snuff (1971) which, I hope, most people would agree certainly belong in any attempt to catalogue the horror genre.
Lee also makes room for films "with explicit extreme violence" and films in which "abnormal psychology is [...] given an almost supernatural and mysterious presentation to heighten its power" - thus allowing in gore films, a certain number of dark thrillers and films like Beguiled, The (1970), Deliverance (1972), Cape Fear (1991) and many more.
What are generally excluded are big budget Hollywood action spectaculars like Die Hard and the Rambo films - the stories they tell may well be verging on the fantastic, but they would look out of place alongside some of the other material here.
Animation is included regardless of its subject matter - the majority of animated features are entirely fantastic in nature, but just occasionally one or two get through which attempt to tell a 'straight' and realistic story using the medium. Regardless, all examples of animation are here treated as fantastic and are therefore worthy of inclusion.
Documentaries - particularly TV shows - are included if they are on a subject that is closely related to the genres covered here. So biographical shows of actors or directors associated with the genres are included, as are making of documentaries and critical histories.
Sometimes, it might just be that one or two passages in the film are enough to warrant an inclusion here. Many of the classic musicals will suddenly veer off into a fantastic interlude, for example - Singin' in the Rain (1952) springs readily to mind - and such films will be included here if those sequences are felt to be significant. However, once again in keeping with Lee, a single scary moment in a film is usually not enough to get it included here as a horror film - for that, the horror must be sustained throughout the entire film.
In the end, of course, it all comes down to whether or not I deem a film should be included or not. You will, no doubt, argue with me over some of the things that have been missed out and indeed may be surprised at some of the things that have made it in. Such disagreements come with the territory and I'll gladly take on all comers to defend my decisions!
That said, nothing here is written in stone - I'm always willing to put things in and take things out and will listen to any suggestions anyone cares to make.
How often is EOFFTV updated?
Entries are added or corrected on an almost daily basis.
Can you supply me with e-mail addresses, postal addresses or telephone numbers for any of the people or organisations featured in EOFFTV?
No. Even if I had this sort of information - and, honestly, I don't! - I would be very reluctant to pass it on to anyone else. I'm asked for contact details on a virtually daily basis and from now on I won't be answering any of these e-mails. Sorry if that sounds a bit unfriendly but I still spend ages sifting through these kind of emails mails!