We love our movie monsters – all shapes and sizes! From giant Kaiju to tiny puppets, we relish them all. In a very Monster Kid like way, the folks over at Pop Chart Lab have created The Diabolical Diagram of Movie Monsters, a web diagram of cinema’s popular and obscure creatures. This poster is available for sale at Etsy.com
Let us know if you can think of any they left out!
(click image for a huge version)
This poster has been available for a couple of years but was produced as a limited edition of 1000 – You can get your own copy of this poster at Etsy.com
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?
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.
Monster Kid Memories: Hosting Our Own Monster Show
There are seminal events in the life of all Monster Kids. Seeing King Kong for the first time was one such event for me. Another was receiving Scholastic Books Movie Monsters in my school book order.
Like many monster kids of the 60s and 70s, I was enamored by the magic of movie monsters. And thanks largely to Famous Monsters of Filmland, I learned about the magicians behind-the-scenes that made the movie magic happen– the special effect and make-up artists. I enjoyed the actors who played the monsters, but I loved the artists who created them.
Fortunately for me, the mid-70s was a great time to be into monster makeup with kits and how-to books increasingly available. My first official guidebook on making monsters came to me through the Scholastic book club in the fall of 1975 when I was 9 years old.
Movie Monsters ; Alan Ormsby (Scholastic Books, 1975)
Pictured above is my original copy of Scholastic Books Movie Monsters; well-used and well-loved. I remember getting my book order at the end of the school day and, as soon as I got home from school, 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.
With my parents’ blessing, I began to assemble a make-shift make-up kit using an old fishing tackle box and some of my mom’s old make-up. We lived in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and would often head to the nearby big city of Tulsa, where they had a store featuring costumes and professional make-up for the stage. I continued to build my make-up kit and to practice on my younger siblings and myself.
Included in this book was a section called “How to Put On Monster Shows” complete with script called “The Monster of Frankenstein!” and I quickly assembled a cast of neighborhood kids to stage our very own production in my garage that October.
As the Executive Producer, Director, Make-up Artist and Chief Monster Kid, I played Dr. Frankenstein and my classmates and neighbors played one or more characters in the play. We hung bed sheets in my garage and decorated with Halloween decorations. I was such a nerd that I had my own science lab complete with chemistry test tubes, beakers and microscope, so making the laboratory was a snap. I made a cassette recording of my Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House Disney record for our soundtrack and then we invited every neighborhood kid who wasn’t in the play to come and watch.
The only pictures I have of that eventful day:
That’s me in the white lab coat — as you can see the makeup was on the light side — more of a Werewolf of London style than the Wolf Man. Can’t say I remember why, exactly, because minimalism was hardly my style when I was 9. Perhaps we simply ran out of time. The Show Must Go On, as they say!
My younger brother was Mr. Skull, wearing a skull mask and almost in the picture to the left (these were polaroids, of course. It was 1975 after all)
I’ll share more pages from Scholastic Books Movie Monsters in future posts — hope you enjoyed this walk down Monster Kid Memory lane as much as I did.
I know I’m not the only Monster Kid that put this show on — please share your Monster Kid memories in the comments section below.
When it comes to classic monster toys, King Kong wasn’t a tier-one classic monster property. While the “unholy quintet” of Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, Wolf Man, the Creature and the Mummy win in terms of the pure quantity or toys and merchandise, Kong is certainly in the top 10 most licensed (and unlicensed) monster toys. Collecting King Kong toys and games from the 1933 film seems like a good place to start given the impact this movie had on my becoming a Monster Kid
This post focuses on the 1933 King Kong and does not include licensed merchandise from the 1976 or 2005 remakes. As a 1970s monster kid, most of my Kong stuff was from the Dino De Laurentiis remake, and I plan to cover merchandise from both remakes in future posts.
King Kong is one of the earliest movies to have licensed kids merchandise, and certainly the first monster movie. Given the age of the film, high-grade examples toys from the 1933 are extremely rare and, as a result, quite valuable.
1933 RKO Jigsaw Puzzle
This puzzle was produced as a promo piece by RKO and included in the film’s press book, which was sent to movie theaters and included lobby cards, movie posters and other ephemera theater owners could order to promote upcoming releases. Theater managers had two options for ordering these puzzles:
1. They could purchase 100 puzzles for $6 (6 cents a piece).
2. (1) puzzle free with purchase of $1 worth of film promo merchandise.
Since this was during the Great Depression, most theater owners probably stuck to their basics and ordered posters and other tried-and-true film mercy. The rarity of this item can most likely be attributed to the simple fact that very few theater owners purchased them. Today, this item is so rare, complete puzzles demand prices over $2,000.
As with most 1960s King Kong toys, this was part of a classic monster collection and one of the first of what would become a monster toy explosion in the 1960s. Along with the Yeti, King Kong was a plush over a tin mechanical skeleton.
These are highlights of some of collectors’ favorites, and only a representative selection of the wide variety of King Kong toys over the years. The variety is pretty amazing, from quirky to classic, and a testament to the timelessness of the character. Everyone knows King Kong. For many kids, even today, he is the first classic monster they are exposed to. These toys, and the many others not included here, are central to many classic monster collections — like mine.
I’d love to here from other “Kong Kollectors” — what toys are your favorites? What’s highest on your Want List?
Any article about collecting King Kong 1933 merchandise has to include these influential monster models from Aurora Plastics. Collecting King Kong Aurora Models is often the highlight of any King Kong collection.
It’s hard to think of any one thing that had as great an impact on the 1960s monster mania as Aurora Plastic Corporation’s monster model kits. The triumverate of Shock Theatre, Famous Monsters of Filmland and Aurora’s line of monster models almost certainly combined to create an entire generation of Monster Kids, who were lucky enough to be pre-teens in the early 1960s.
I didn’t come along until 1966, but I can relate to those Boomer kids, as I shared their wide-eyed wonder when I discovered the 1970 re-issues of these Aurora kits on the store shelves. For many, collecting classic monsters starts–and in all reality, could stop– with Aurora model kits.
King Kong wasn’t in the very first set of kits released. Kong made his debut, along with Godzilla and the Hunchback of Notre Dame, in 1963 and was an instant commercial and monster kid favorite, despite some serious scale issues (palm trees hit Kong in the ankles and Fay Wray was about knee-high).
The following is a complete listing of Aurora’s King Kong models and variations:
This book is a must-have for monster model kit collectors, and a good read for any monster kid who simply wants to learn more about these influential collectibles on the 1960s/70s monster craze.
While I’d love to see an updated edition (2nd edition was released in 2006) it has an excellent Kit Directory categorizing every kit and variation and providing useful detail to help in identifying the age / value of kits you are considering buying. This exhaustive catalog of every make/model is useful and timeless. For collectors, the price range to buy these kits today may be slightly dated, but the information on determining the age of the model kit is extremely useful when considering a purchase.