art from Discover the Horror, a book by Jon Kitley of Kitley's
The cover art from Discover the Horror by Jon Kitley. Credit: Dave Voigt

Jon Kitley of Aurora has made a friend of horror. For 22 years he’s run Kitley’s Krypt, a site devoted to horror films, ranging from the earliest silent nightmares to the latest terrors from overseas. The site started in October of 1998 using the now-defunct Microsoft FrontPage tool. Kitley’s Krypt continues to provide regular updates and reviews of horror films from every era and around the world at

Originally from Michigan, Kitley has loved the horror genre for more than 50 of his 57 years. His earliest memory is of watching the 1972 Sebastian Cabot-narrated TV series Ghost Story (later titled Circle of Fear). Years later, he came across a book that synopsized the show’s plots, sparking a drive to track down and collect the series through the scratchy magic of VHS tape. When he turned 16, he found a gig at a movie theater, where he caught several 80s horror flicks in all their gory glory.

YouTube video
The opening sequence of Ghost Story, uploaded to YouTube by The Rap Sheet.

“I got to see a lot of great movies on the big screen,” Kitley says, “and more and more fell in love with [horror].”

Collecting and duplicating VHS tapes led to accumulating movie posters and film reference books, which in turn led to attending horror conventions. He recalls his first convention, in April 1988 in California. The experience was eye-opening.

“So there I am walking [into] this hotel. And there’s George Romero, standing there talking to fans and signing autographs. Roddy McDowall, from the Planet of the Apes movies that I grew up with is there. Anthony Perkins was there. Which is funny, because when he’s up on stage giving a Q&A, you’re going, ‘Yeah, that’s Norman Bates.’ Tobe Hooper, the director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was there . . . .” In recalling the past, Kitley evokes the youthful enthusiasm he no doubt felt at the time.

“So, all of these icons that I had watched are in this convention, just wandering around. It was unreal, to be able to walk up, talk to them, get an autograph, everybody was so friendly. It was an unbelievable experience.”

Kitley brings that same energy to his site, rarely missing a day or opportunity to share a new discovery or revisit an old favorite. He also wrote a memoir of his 50 years of horror fandom, titled Discover the Horror, recollecting the actors, directors, creators, and fans he’s met throughout the years. He’s a constant campaigner for a genre he feels has gotten short shrift.

“There’s peaks and valleys, but the horror genre has been strong since the very beginning of cinema,” he stresses. “Anytime I hear people say, ‘Well, there’s nothing really good that’s coming out’ . . . Well, unless you’ve seen everything, there’s a ton of great stuff. And with the Internet . . . you get a chance to see stuff from around the world we never would have heard about 30 years ago.”

As a horror proselytizer, Kitley keeps newer fans in mind. In fact he envies them.

“You have a lot of amazing cinema yet to discover,” he tells them. “You get to watch Night of the Living Dead for the first time. I can’t, you know. I’ve seen it 100 times; I’ll never get that same rush of seeing a film like that for the first time. So if you’re a new fan, man, you’re going to have one hell of a ride, and I’m jealous.”

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