[Book Review] ‘Monsters in the Movies’ Nothing Short of Stunning

From B-movie bogeymen and outer space oddities to big-budget terrors, “Monsters in the Movies” by legendary filmmaker John Landis showcases the greatest monsters ever to creep, fly, slither, stalk, or rampage across the Silver Screen!

Landis provides his own fascinating and entertaining insights into the world of moviemaking, while conducting in-depth “conversations” with leading monster makers, including David Cronenberg, Christopher Lee, John Carpenter, and Sam Raimi– to discuss some of the most petrifying monsters ever seen. He also surveys the historical origins of the archetypal monsters, such as vampires, zombies, and werewolves, and takes you behind the scenes to discover the secrets of those special-effects wizards who created such legendary frighteners as King Kong, Dracula, and Halloween’s Michael Myers. With more than 1000 stunning movie stills and posters, this book is sure to keep even the most intense fright-seekers at the edge of their seats for hours!

Ryan Daley was blown away by the book, now available at retailers from DK ADULT. Read his review inside.
Wow, wow, and…wow. Monsters in the Movies is nothing short of stunning. John Landis’s photographic tribute to 100 years of horror cinema is a veritable treasure trove of dazzling images. Even though I’m constantly emerged in horror books and films, I never truly get sick of horror, but John Landis’s weighty tome (literally; the thing has got to weigh 8 pounds) is a compilation that has completely rekindled my love of the genre.

It’s not a book of film criticism, but rather, as Landis unequivocally states in his foreword, “This is a book with a lot of photographs of monsters in the movies.” And ain’t that the fucking truth. It’s 320 glossy, full-color pages of glorious cinematic monstrosities, each photo captioned in Landis’s unmistakably witty voice. In between chapters, Landis interviews fellow icons of horror like Sam Raimi, John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, and others. Their widely different answers to a similar set of questions (“How would you define a monster?”) provide an intriguing context to Landis’s glorified photo album.

I turned the page immediately following the foreword and was met with an incredible visual: a lavish photo from 1931′s Frankenstein, featuring Mae Clark laying supine on a bed as the monster peers in through a bedroom window, shot in a haunting black-and-white and spanning two full pages. It’s an auspicious introduction to the dozens of Kobal Collection photographs that are packed into Monsters in the Movies.

The book is organized by subject, rather than chronologically, grouping monsters based on their subgenus of scary. You’ll find a two-page spread devoted to “stakings” in the “Vampires” chapter, and a page on “gorgons” in the “Myths, Legends, & Fairy Tales” chapter. It’s not an all-encompassing horror encyclopedia, as Landis readily admits–some omissions, like Stuart Gordon’s Dolls, for example, are particularly egregious–but the photo selections (and prose) have obviously been culled directly from the author’s horror-nerd brain. What results is a peek into the very specific genre tastes of a legend like John Landis: the aspects of horror that he LOVES (lesbian vampire nudity; Near Dark) and LOATHES (Joe Johnston’s The Wolfman remake). But even if you’re not a Landis fan, the loads of breathtaking photos in Monsters of the Movies make this book a must-own for horror lovers.

4.5/5 Skulls