Movie Monsters by Alan Ormsby

Ormsby’s Movie Monsters: A Ghoulery of Monster Greats

Classic Monster Books

Movie Monsters by Alan Ormsby

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:

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Ormsby begins, fittingly, with a tribute to the Man of a Thousand Faces, Lon Chaney.

He invented monster make-up!

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Ormsby continues his focus on Chaney, with The Phantom of the Opera (note my little sister’s custom art work on the page):

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From Sr. to Jr., Ormsby leaps right to my favorite Universal Monster, Lon Chaney Jr as the Wolfman:

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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.

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He continues with Karloff, in this feature on The Mummy:

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The Frankenstein Monster may be the most popular monster. But King Kong is probably the greatest monster movie ever made.

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Unlike the feature on Frankenstein’s Monster, Ormsby focuses on both Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee as Dracula, even titling the section “Two Draculas.’

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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:

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The first important female monster, the Bride of Frankenstein:

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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!”

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It was the 1970s after all, and Ormsby’s efforts at inclusiveness led to this focus on….Blacula!

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Again, a tribute to the period in which this book was published, what reader of this book hadn’t seen Young Frankenstein?

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Read more about Ormsby’s Movie Monsters:

Scholastic’s Movie Monsters Changed My Life

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.

Read more Monster Kid memories:

The Library and the Giant Gorilla

Lesson #2: Monster Movies Are Scary!


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