Classic Monster Books
Movie Monsters ; Alan Ormsby (Scholastic Books, 1975)
As a 1970s Monster Kid, I was fortunate enough to have access to a wide variety of monster magazines and books. Movie Monsters by Alan Ormsby was one of my favorites.
Pictured above is my original copy, well-loved and well-used. In other words, it is far from collectible condition. I remember getting my Scholastic book order at the end of the school day late during the Fall of 1975 with this book in it. As soon as I got home from school that day, I recall heading straight to my room to read this cover-to-cover. I loved the illustrations and the easy step-by-step guide to monster make-up.
I loved this book so much, I even gathered the neighborhood kids and staged a production of The Monster of Frankenstein – which is the play included in this book (see story below).
Today, I thought we could stroll down memory lane together and review this book.
From the author:
Movie Monsters has three parts: The Greatest Movie Monsters – for your delight, information, and reference, page 3; How to make a Monster, including make-up and recipes for monsters, page 29; and How to Put On Monster Shows, page 63. Happy Ghouling!
Today’s focus is on part one, the Ghoulery of Monster Greats:
Ormsby begins, fittingly, with a tribute to the Man of a Thousand Faces, Lon Chaney.
He invented monster make-up!
Ormsby continues his focus on Chaney, with The Phantom of the Opera (note my little sister’s custom art work on the page):
From Sr. to Jr., Ormsby leaps right to my favorite Universal Monster, Lon Chaney Jr as the Wolfman:
Appropriately, Ormsby spends four pages on the Frankenstein Monster – discussing all the Universal movies up through Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein but, unlike his action on Dracula below, he focuses exclusively on Boris Karloff‘s portrayal of the Monster.
He continues with Karloff, in this feature on The Mummy:
The Frankenstein Monster may be the most popular monster. But King Kong is probably the greatest monster movie ever made.
Unlike the feature on Frankenstein’s Monster, Ormsby focuses on both Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee as Dracula, even titling the section “Two Draculas.’
Ormsby’s focus throughout the book is on monster make-up and this iconic transformation of Dr Jekyll into Mr. Hyde was a favorite page of mine:
The first important female monster, the Bride of Frankenstein:
I’ve always loved this iconic image of the Gillman, and the superimposing of behind-the-scenes costuming enthralled this young monster kid– “so that’s how they did it!”
It was the 1970s after all, and Ormsby’s efforts at inclusiveness led to this focus on….Blacula!
Again, a tribute to the period in which this book was published, what reader of this book hadn’t seen Young Frankenstein?
Read more about Ormsby’s Movie Monsters:
Next week, I’ll cover part two of Movie Monsters, the fun and informative section titled How to Make a Monster – till then, hope you’ve enjoyed this stroll down ‘Monster Kid Memory lane’ as much as I have.