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Creature Features: The Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Movie Guide Paperback – August 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews Review

I know this is a good movie guide because it took up residence next to my remote control and gets consulted on a near-nightly basis. John Stanley, who inherited Bob Wilkins's famous Bay Area show called "Creature Features," does a bang-up job of reviewing thousands of movies through the end of '96 that fall in a general grab-bag category of being spooky or fantastic. This is the fifth edition of Stanley's guide and the first to come out in a handy mass-market size. As Joe Bob Briggs puts it, "I keep this reference work by my bed at all times. Never has so much worthless information been gathered together in one place. I'm in awe of the man." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

John Stanley hosted the popular Creature Features TV series in the San Francisco Bay area for six years. He has covered the science fiction, fantasy, and horror scene for the San Francisco Chronicle for more than thirty years. He has interviewed dozens of superstars and genre stars.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Updated edition (August 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425175170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425175170
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #633,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For 33 years John Stanley was an entertainment writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, covering the leading movie and TV personalities from the 1960s through the early 1990s. During that time he was also host of "Creature Features," an extremely popular Saturday night series in the Bay Area that ran for 14 years. (His predecessor, Bob Wilkins, hosted from 1971-1978.) Stanley's book I WAS A TV HORROR HOST (2007) reflects the large number of personalities of fantasy-world personalities he interviewed on the air, including Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Ray Harryhausen, Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, William Castle and countless film directors and sci-fi/fantasy authors. Stanley (born 1940) has written 18 books during his lifetime, including six editions in the long-running "Creature Features Movie Guide" series (1981-2000), of which the fourth edition is still available. His latest book was THE GANG THAT SHOT UP HOLLYWOOD (2011) with profiles of Clint Eastwood, Robert Mitchum, Samuel Fuller, Karl Malden, James Stewart, Ida Lupino, Barbara Stanwyck, Carroll Baker, and many others. His novel WORLD WAR III (aka NAPALM SUNDAY) was a hit Avon paperback in 1976 and his 1980 Dell Press novel BOGART '48 was recently reissued, with 42 photographs, by Ramble House, a mystery publisher. The latter book is also available in e-book format. He has produced many DVDS featuring material from his "Creature Features" shows as well as a documentary about film noir expert Eddie Muller.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Mcdonald on September 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
John Stanley's self-congratulatory intro aside, this is a very sloppy new edition with some glaring factual errors and gaps. There is a scant two paragraphs in the intro on DVD, which has revolutionized home video and brought numerous classics to a wider audience. The line "While the more expensive DVD made inroads amongst elitists, sci-fi and horror material continued to inundate the videocassette market" is one ripe example, since DVDs are cheap and have well-nigh replaced the defunct video-tape. He didn't even bother to rename his "sources" list: it's still called "Video/Laserdisc." The new entries are overlong, badly written, and even poorly punctuated. His opinions are often daft, such as praising Liam Neeson's somnambulant performance in THE HAUNTING and trashing the occasionally clever BRIDE OF CHUCKY. THE BEYOND, STENDHAL SYNDROME, CRASH, and RABID DOGS, key films by Fulci, Argento, Cronenberg, and Bava respectively, are not mentioned. His entry on BLOOD COUPLE (aka GANJA AND HESS) shows no awareness that it was completely restored and reissued over two years ago. This list goes on.
The older entries still hold up, but he's no Michael Weldon. He even gets in some tacky plugs for ordering previous editions of the guide direct from him. If you have a previous edition, there is absolutely no reason to buy this one. A poor update all around.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Burton Caruthers on January 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
Reading the forward, it's pretty clear that John Stanley is very pleased with himself as a horror expert. However, as you read through his reviews, you'll start to wonder why you didn't think of putting one of these guides out yourself. As a handy reference guide for those moments when recalling a forgotten film from your childhood, it's serviceable. As a trusted review guide, I'd look for something else.

Packed with more bad jokes than a week-long Carrot Top marathon, more spelling mistakes than you can shake a spellchecker at, and enough factual errors to make George Bush seem on the ball, Stanley's 'Creature Features' becomes a very irritating read rather quickly. Having a sense of humor about the genre is required, but you'll be tired of the lame, endless puns by the time you hit Page 10. If there's a plant involved in the film, expect a million 'stump' and 'limb' jokes. If animals are involved, expect the obivious 'all bark no bite' or 'udder nonsense' quips to come fast and furious. The author comes off as a guy who thinks he's much funnier than he really is.

As far as the meat of his capsule reviews goes, he's seems to have no idea how to rate films properly. Using the common 0-5 stars rating system, he often gives a particular film three stars and follows with a review that tells you he's thinking one star. In turn, he'll praise a film while giving it a 1.5 or 2-star rating. It renders his ratings rather useless, since the amount of stars seems to mean very little in terms of film quality.

There are too many spelling and factual errors to list. There were several instances where he generically claimed a monster was a "tentacled beast" when it wasn't the case, as well as gender gaffes, wrong plot lines, and other technical errors.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
I've owned this book for several years now, and it's good fun to page through the capsule reviews (some 3000) every now and then. However, as a serious guide to genre films, the book is sadly lacking.
What we have here is a work that has been hastily produced, on a low budget, by a writer light on talent, but heavy on respect: ironically enough, that actually sums up most of the films inside. Stanley rarely has any special insight into the films he reviews; entries are often very poorly written; he often misspells words, or actually uses words incorrectly; and his cutesy sense of humor becomes grating very quickly. He obviously knows a lot about the subject of genre films, but knowledge simply doesn't equate with discernment. (His petulant review of "Mystery Science Theater" (though I agree that the show is much overrated) is a classic example of a horror-geek's intolerance.
Worst of all is the total lack of indices. These should be included as a matter of course, but Stanley, or his publisher, couldn't be bothered to do the work.
If what you want is a mildly entertaining bathroom book, then by all means buy "Creature Features." Otherwise, look elsewhere.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
OK. So it's got like a billion listings, or some such outlandish number. OK. So John Stanley is touted as (and may be) "the Leonard Maltin of Horror". OK. So it's an inexpensive and broad guide to horror, fantasy, and sci-fi films. So why does it consistently leave me feeling empty. It's literally like consulting a hollow encylclopaedia.
Stanley has surely seen a lot of movies, it seems. He has the basic formula for capsule-review-writing down to a science; witticism, synopsis, criticism, witticism (rinse and repeat). However, there are far too many glaring inconsistencies and factual errors for this to be a truly "useful" guide. Either his fact checker was on an extended vacation, or he just writes these things from memory (or perhaps both). Example: in his listing for Disney's "Beauty and the Beast", Stanley calls it "winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture". In 1991. When it ran against "The Silence of the Lambs" (his review for which makes no mention of the multiple Oscars it won that year, including best picture). Hmmmm...let's do our basic fact checking, shall we? This may sound like nitpicking, but really...the point of books like this is to have a reference work that covers a lot of ground, and is accurate. It's a fun read, and some of his reviews are dead on. However, as a reference work, it's severly lacking.
Verdict, fun but flawed.
Use as a vague overview, but don't expect to win any trivia contests with the information in this tome.
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