I have been a fan of Universal Horror films for as long as I can remember. My earliest memories are of a local channel here in the Detroit area that used to show a different Universal horror film every afternoon in the week leading up to Halloween. And then there was local horror host Sir Graves Ghastly who played the old classics every Saturday afternoon from the late 60's and into the early 80's. The past 10 years have seen a big renewed interest in these classic horror films with so many being released on DVD and with toys, sculptures, and great new books such as this one from Ballantine/Del Rey books.
Monsters: A Celebration of the Classics from Universal Studios is a fantastic new hardcover book celebrating Universal's classic horror films. The book doesn't cover all of the Universal Horrors but does spotlight the major ones such as Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Wolf man, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the silent version of The Phantom of the Opera. The book features essays on each of these films by either noted actors or directors as well as the family members of the horror film stars.
Sara Karloff and Bela Lugosi Jr., each take their turn writing about their famous fathers and the roles which made them stars. Ron Chaney discusses his great-grandfather Lon Chaney, Director John Landis provides an essay on the Wolfman, and actress Gloria Stuart talks about the Invisible Man, a film she co-starred in over 70 years ago! In addition, makeup master Rick Baker looks at the Universal Monster movie makeup and the legendary Jack Pierce, who designed the look of the Frankenstein Monster, The Mummy, The Wolfman, and many more terrors.Read more ›
Universal Pictures has long been famous for making the greatest horror classics of all time,and this beautiful book shows why.The people who made these beloved films knew how to do it best,and here we see them at their peak.The makers of today's so-called "horror films" would do well to look at this book and see how to do it right.Universal's people,from
talented directors like James Whale and Tod Browning to others like art director Charles D.Hall and legendary makeup guru Jack Pierce,all knew that restraint is key in a horror film(You don't have to show somebody being brutally murdered every five seconds).Often,it's not what you see in these films,but what you DON"T see that really scares you.Granted,they didn't have the technology available today.But they knew how to do more with less.That's not the case today,which is why all those gorefests that
call themselves "horror films" are so bad.
Back to the book.The photographs,many never seen before,are excellent.
There are wonderful tributes from such notable fans as Rick Baker and
John Landis.I loved Gloria Stuart's article on "The Invisible Man".
There are wonderful tributes to Boris,Bela,and both Lons from their children.All the boys and girls are here in their glory.What a delight!
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As the previous reader's posts have mentioned, this book is packed with excellent pictures from the universal archives. The articles are very interesting and insightful. HOWEVER, there are clearly SEVERAL mistakes in the book that any avid monster fan can spot. For instance, a picture's caption of Bela Lugosi as Frankenstein in "Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man" states that it is Lon Chaney! A second caption on a picture reads " Gwen Conliffe and her Fiance "Glenn Talbot". Glenn Talbot? Not even a character in the film! Gwen's fiance was named Frank Andrews! Many other mistakes plague the book as well, such as when they quote Maria Ouspenskaya's Chilling epitath of the Doomed Larry Talbot, they state it as saying".....evil enters the sea"! What!! It's correct transcript should be "..as the rain enters the soil, the RIVER enters the sea"! This is an unexcusable mistake on a VERY famous quote! Another has a Mummy sequel as having music from "Son of Frankenstein" when it was music taken from "Frankenstein meets the wolf man" and/or "The Wolf Man! (the musical ques are very evident).and , Finally a mistake on page 123, the film "Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man, states it as having ALL three monsters in it ( Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man). The film did NOT have Dracula in it. So the text itself has several mistakes that slightly tarnish an otherwise amazing book. I still reccomend it to all those who love the classic Universal monsters as i do, and at $19.99 it's a bargain!
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As a longtime fan of Univeral Monster movies, I have to say I'm delighted with the quality of the many photographs--many of them full-page--in this book. And what is most surprising is that I had never seen many of them. These aren't just the familiar publicity stills that you can find all over the place.
The brief essays by filmmakers such as John Landis, and descendants of the great Universal actors like Karloff and Lugosi are mostly well-written. You can tell the authors have great affection for these films. As someone else has pointed out, there are some errors in the accounts given by uncredited Universal Studios employees. For example, it is said that FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN includes both the title creatures, as well as Dracula. This, of course, did not happen until HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN.
If there's any other real problem with this beautiful book, it's that the text is too brief. Yes, the pictures are the real star of this show, and the book is certainly worth owning for these alone. But as this is an official publication from the studio that made these beloved films, it seems like more time should have been spent discussing the films. Virtually all the sequels--save for BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN--are glossed over with just a few lines. I hope Univeral will consider publishing another volume, and expand on the content of this book.
If you're a fan, you should definitely have this one. It's a fine "coffee table" book, and likely to attract attention from people who've never even seen the films. I bought this one just before having surgery, and a friend who visited me in the hospital (and who only has a passing familiarity with these films) tried to take the book away from me!
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