The always excellent Fab Press brings us another stellar book about horror cinema in conjunction with Frightfest, the UK’s biggest horror festival. Monster Movies is the second in the “guide” series, following up after the Frightfest Guide to Exploitation Movies. The book features an entertaining introduction by Frank Henenlotter. He is certainly no stranger to monsters, being the man behind Basket Case and Brain Damage. His creations, including my favorite – Elmer, are thankfully covered in the book as well. The author, Michael Gingold, has a great horror pedigree. He was an editor for Fangoria for 15 years and is now with our own Scream Horror Magazine.
Monsters are one of the cornerstones of the horror genre. These memorable nightmare visions are brought to life to scare audiences whether they are alien, demonic, or nature turning against us. This book features 200 monsters in chronological order from their first appearance. It begins with the Golem in 1920 and ends with 2017’s Kong Skull Island. You’ll find everything from the classic Universal monsters to the genre greats like The Fly, The Thing, Aliens, and The Descent. There are also plenty of cool monsters from not-so-great films such as those in Anaconda, Starship Troopers, and Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus. 1980s horror is my favorite period, so I loved the entries on movies like C.H.U.D., Critters, and Creepshow. The book doesn’t solely focus on mainstream American films, but includes some completely mental monsters from Japanese films that I’m now going to have to track down.
The presentation of the book is impressive. Vibrant, colorful movie posters and monster screen captures jump out from every page. Each film gets a brief overview, interesting movie facts, and a review. Books about horror cinema are common these days, but the angle that this guide comes from, focusing on the monsters, puts this up there with the best. This is a really enjoyable book, and I highly recommend it.
The Frightfest Guide to Monster Movies Book Cover Blurb:
Monsters have been a part of human culture since we first gained the ability to tell stories. They represent everything from our deepest fears to our feelings of alienation and estrangement. From its beginnings, the cinema has provided a venue to visualize monsters in all their fearsome and sometimes strangely sympathetic glory. They have become some of the movies’ most unforgettable, enduring and popular characters. And now the entire spectrum of screen creatures is gathered in one volume.
Celebrated writer, editor and critic Michael Gingold starts in the silent era and traces the history of the genre to present day. From Universal Studios legends such as Frankenstein’s Monster and the Mummy, to the big bugs, atomic mutants and space invaders that terrorized the ’50s, to the kaiju of Japan and the ecological nightmares of the ’70s and ’80s, to the CG creatures and updated favourites of recent years – they’re all here.
200 of the greatest creature features from across the globe are reviewed, with fascinating facts and critical analysis, all illustrated with a ghoulish gallery of remarkable monstrous imagery. Cult-favourite filmmaker Frank Henenlotter, creator of some of the screen’s most idiosyncratic and bizarre beings, contributes a foreword. A whole world and grisly galaxy of creatures great and small, spawned from space, the supernatural and strange science, the beginning of time, beneath the sea and beyond imagination, await in this book. Dare you confront the beasts within?