Monsters In The Movies Review

Author: John Landis

God I love John Landis. Having seen him appear at a few UK locations over the past couple of years from the London Film and Comic-Con (Where he got interactive with the crowd, freely wandering the isles as opposed to hiding away from the public) and also the FrightFest in 2009 (Where again he remained fully interactive with the crowd all weekend!) it’s great now that he is getting interactive with us via this new book.

Landis – we all know is responsible for the likes of An American Werewolf In London, a segment of The Twilight Zone and even the underrated Innocent Blood – still only too often gets labelled as a comedy director. Whilst this is partially true, he is truly underrated as a horror director. His love for the subject gets brought front and centre here in this loving tribute to the monsters he grew up terrified of himself, and including some of the ones he created for us onscreen as a film director.

Taking a closer look at this book it’s obvious from the get go that it’s been expertly laid out with some great stills used to illustrated the journey.

The book is divided up into main sections described by the monsters they look at – Vampires, Werewolves, Mad Scientists, Zombies, Ghosts,  Mummies and so on. Each section is divided up into sub-parts as well. For example Vampires has sections on Dracula, A Stake through the heart and also an interview with Christopher Lee. Mad Scientists has a look at Dr Jekyll, Dr Frankenstein and their created monsters. There is plenty of room looking at some real human monsters as well, and even mother nature gets a look in!  Either way there is all sorts of trouble in store for us mere innocent mortals.

The book also have some cool little nuggets such as the Monster Carry (See below). See if you can guess which each of the films are on this one!

You also get double page spread interviews between Landis and other directors of the genre… John Carpenter, Joe Dante, David Cronnenberg, Sam Raimi, Ray Harryhausen and Guillermo Del Toro as well as other big names in the genre like Make-Up artist Rick Baker. The interviews are usually informal, often friendly, but also sometimes find the creative minds disagreeing with each other’s ideas. Either way Landis keeps his questions and comments always relevant. Quite frankly this book seems to have too much going for it. And yet it makes for a great read and easy to navigate to the parts you may be more of a fan of.

Landis has been working up a new wind of creativity first with his return to the director’s chair with the (again underrated) Burke and Hare film, and now with this book. We have our fingers crossed that he continues to deliver more from a career that has already given so much.

Steven Hurst

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