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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I consult this constantly.
"Creature Features" is incredible--not only do I try to never rent or buy a horror or sci-fi film without consulting it first, but I also get yelled at for forgetting to take it along to the video store. This comprehensive book is an absolute must for fans of the genre, and, in fact, fans of film in general.
Published on July 15, 1999 by Jack Witzig (tomveil@interstat...

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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lazy update to a decent book
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...
Published on September 28, 2000 by Thomas Mcdonald


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lazy update to a decent book, September 28, 2000
This review is from: Creature Features: The Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Movie Guide (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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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good as a reference for forgotten films, but not much else., January 12, 2006
This review is from: Creature Features: The Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Movie Guide (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. It's hard to tell if this was caused by incompetence or just sheer laziness. His statement that "a blood-soaked psycho killer named Jason is knocking off his victims" when describing the original 'Friday the 13th' is a gross, unforgivable mistake for a guy who implies he's a horror expert. Any fan of the genre knows Jason's mother was the killer in the original film. That's like making a speech in front of WWII veterans and talking about the Swiss bombing Pearl Harbor.

His opinion of the genre is more of the tired, old-school way of thinking (more exposition and character development than we often get, although we're talking about a visiual medium that gets more visiual by the day), often falling in line with popular thinking, but he did suprise me quite a few times. While it goes without saying that no-budget borefests like 'The Blair Witch Project' and the original 'The Haunting' are praised as "less-is-more atmoshpheric masterpieces", Stanley actually praises some good films that have been panned by most ('Galaxy of Terror', 'Conan the Destroyer' are good examples). Still, you're left scratching your head when he gives a tedious snoozer like 'Atom Age Vampire' three stars. He also includes far too many films that have no business in a creature feature guide (Woody Allen films, 'It's a Wonderful Life')

Stanley also seems to have a personal problem with some people, and his venom-coated fangs are bared many reviews. For whatever reason, he seems to despise Sean Cunningham ('Friday the 13th' producer-director-writer), Wes Craven ('Nightmare on Elm Street'), and the boys and gals of Mystery Science Theater. He takes shots at Cunningham and Craven whenever he has a chance, and completely shreds the very talented people behind MST3K. It comes off as either petty professional jealousy, or maybe they just snubbed Stanley at some point in his career. Whatever the case, the fact is Craven & Cunningham have more talent in the creative end of the genre than Stanley does, and the folks at MST3K are light-years funnier than Stanley could ever be. What do they say about music critics? Failed, talentless musicians who go on to trash the successful ones? Could be the case with Stanley.

In conclusion, if you can find the book for under two bucks like I did, it's worth the chump change as a reference guide for obscure horror films. As a comprehensive review guide, to use Stanley's own words, 'Creature Features' is a "dud of a turkey-flop". The cover features a blurb from Fangoria stating that John Stanley is "The Leonard Maltin of horror!". To me, that's kinda like saying somebody is the Daniel Baldwin of acting.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Amateurish but entertaining, March 22, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Creature Features: The Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Movie Guide (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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Had potential, August 26, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Creature Features: The Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Movie Guide (Paperback)
Yes, there are a lot of movies listed here. The most helpful thing is the re-titlings. However, I have gone through my copy several times, and I have watched well over 600 horror, scifi, and fantasy films and shows, and I found this book riddled with mistakes. The author misspells names of actors, lists the wrong actors, and in some instances, has problems with genders in movies, i.e. saying a woman was drilled in the head when it was a man, etc. And leaving a review of Transformers the Movie out of his book is unforgivable. Maybe it will be in the reprints.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The ratings make no sense., October 17, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Creature Features: The Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Movie Guide (Paperback)
I bought one of the earlier Creature Feature editions and enjoyed it. This is the first one I have seen that had ratings in it and none of these ratings seem to make any sense. In Dreams is given a very medicore review yet receives 3 stars. Right above it is Indian in the Cupboard which is given a better review than In Dreams yet only gets 2 and half stars. This is only one example of many. Also I believe the reviewer below me pointed out other mistakes. I don't care to repeat them. Most of the reviews are straight out of the other edition I purchased so I really feel ripped off.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hollow Encyclopaedia, May 12, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Creature Features: The Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Movie Guide (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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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Riddled with errors., July 3, 2001
By 
"kaijuking54" (Odenville, Alabama United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Creature Features: The Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Movie Guide (Paperback)
Despite the quote from the always reliable Fangoria, I cannot recommend this book. The errors fly fast and furious in this one. Some examples:
Godzilla Raids Again: Stanley says that G battles "Angorus, a spiked creature with wings." Anguiras does not have wings.
Godzilla vs. Megalon: "Baragon the stomper" is listed in the monster credits. Baragon does not appear in this one and he is an underground creature, NOT a stomper(whatever that is)!
Godzilla vs. the Cosmic Monster: "A huge rodent creature... comes to the real Godzilla's aid when..." he " squares off against the antagonistic Angorus." The "rodent creature," King Seesar, helps G battle Mecha G at the film's close. Anguiras faces Mecha G early in the film and is defeated.
Rodan: Rodan is referred to as a "pterodactyl." He is in fact a Pteranodan.
King Kong vs. Godzilla: Stanley ends the review with, "AKA King Kong vs. Prometheus and King Kong vs. Frankenstein." These are alternate titles for the project that eventually got made as KK vs G. This film was never released anywhere as either KK vs. Frankenstein or KK vs. Prometheus.
But, it doesn't stop at the G series. Some examples:
Friday the 13th: " A blood-drenched psycho killer named Jason is knocking off his victims... at Camp Crystal Lake." The killer in this film was Jason's mother.
Return of the Living Dead: "A malfunction frees a corpse and causes a toxic rain to fall on Resurrection Cemetary." The malfunction awakens more than just one corpse(the split-dogs, butterflys) and the toxic rain is caused when Ernie cremates the remains of the medical school cadaver.
Exorcist III: Legion: The film was not released under that title. Legion is the title of the source novel. "...A serial killer nicknamed Gemini has possessed the body of incarcerated criminal Brad Dourif, who promises to escape to murder again." The killer is not known as Gemini but as The Gemini Killer. Brad Dourif plays James Venamon, who is the Gemini Killer. He doesn't promise to escape but wants Lt. Kinderman to tell the press that he is the Gemini Killer, who was executed many years ago. If he needed to escape why would he tell Kinderman the "Catatonics are so easy to possess?"
Need I go on? This book may be a somewhat useful guide for someone who doesn't pay too much attention to the details. However, for those of us who number ourselves among the fanatical horr/sci-fi followers, this book comes as a crushing disappointment.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Give it a miss and buy 'Keep Watching the Skies' instead, September 24, 2005
By 
Doc (Sydney, N.S.W. Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Creature Features: The Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Movie Guide (Paperback)
I'm a huge sf and horror fan, and have been since I was a kid. So I had high hopes when I bought this book. Unfotunately, despite the research that's been done here the style is dry, boring and humourless.

Anyone who has a lopsided affection for this genre knows you have to take a lot of it with a large grain of salt and have a sense of humour about the wooden acting, silly plots and lame effects. That's part of the joy of it all.

But review after review here shows the author's lack of joy or understanding about these often trashy films. Frankly, someone who can't see the fun side of cheesy B-grade horror films (or the fun in Mystery Science Theatre 3000 when they play around with the genre) shouldn't bother. This is the kind of book that ends up putting you off the subject it's meant to be promoting.

Save your money and instead buy Bill Warren's indipensable 'Keep Watching the Skies'. It's everything this book is not and much more. Bill Warren's love for these films comes off in in every review and it's a joy just to dip into for the pleasure of reading, let alone the incredible amount of research he's done.

Give 'Creature Features' and John Stanley a miss.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I consult this constantly., July 15, 1999
"Creature Features" is incredible--not only do I try to never rent or buy a horror or sci-fi film without consulting it first, but I also get yelled at for forgetting to take it along to the video store. This comprehensive book is an absolute must for fans of the genre, and, in fact, fans of film in general.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a MUST for any fan of the horror genre, December 6, 1999
Far to many books have fallen flat trying to accomplish what this book has done. It is THE BEST book i have ever seen when it comes to catalogue Horror flicks both theatrically and direct-to-video. Have you ever heard of Black Devil Doll From Hell? Probably not, but this book has a review of it. Before you rent Class Reunion Massacre you should know that you may have already seen this movie under the name The Redeemer almost 25 years ago. I didnt know that did you? Well it has entries for BOTH titles making it an essential have for people who never want to see a movie twice under a different title. The reviews arent always the best. Honestly, i LOVED Sleepaway Camp 2. But they at least serve as a wonderful checklist of the horror video market through 1995. This book does need to be updated in Y2K but for now it is a MUST OWN, my copy is severely dog eared from many back pocket trips to the video store! Buy this book!
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Creature Features: The Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Movie Guide
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