Thursday, October 7, 2010

31 Days of the Creeps!

Bookworm's Book Club presents:

Lost, then Found:
The Story of Movie Monsters and me!

    I picked up a copy of Alan Ormsby's Movie Monsters book at one of those Scholastic Book Fairs we used to have every year in elementary school. I was probably 8 or 9 years old. Wow, how I loved that book! Ormsby, a lifelong fan of the classic movie monsters, was the perfect person to write (and illustrate) this book. First, you get an overview of his favorite monsters, with short profiles and pictures of The Phantom of the Opera (Lon Chaney), The Wolfman (Lon Chaney, Jr), The Frankenstein Monster (Boris Karloff), The Mummy (Boris Karloff), King Kong, two Draculas (Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Fredric March), The Bride of Frankenstein (Elsa Lanchester), The Creature from the Black Lagoon (crediting only Ricou Browning, but it's understandable given the shortness of the piece for each monster that he didn't get into the various other Gillmen - I will though! Ben Chapman and Don Megowan were the guys in the costume on land), Blacula (William Marshall), and lastly Young Frankenstein (Peter Boyle).
    Then comes the real meat of the book - a how-to guide for doing several different monster makeups on your own youthful face using mostly household materials!

Who doesn't want to take some brown bag Frankenstein for lunch tomorrow?
After laying out the various makeups and some tips on costuming, Ormsby even provides a short skit starring the monster characters, with some onstage live special effects he details right after the script. He closes out with a list of options for getting the materials together for your own makeup kit.

This is a really good recipe for blood. It might not slake the
thirst of the vampire chasing you, but it'll probably scare the
bejabbers out of your Aunt Tillie.

I wish I could say I did every one of the makeups and performed the monster show with and for my friends over a hundred times. Sadly, I never did any of the makeups, though I did do a "dramatic" reading of the script for some forcibly detained family members one time.

I read the book a lot and thought about doing every thing in it though. Eventually, my copy of the book went further and further into the books I'd read and wasn't reading again. And then, in one of my 10+ moves from puberty til now the book disappeared. And as a mostly grown-up person, I didn't much miss it.

Later I discovered that Alan Ormsby had graduated into actual movie making. He wrote and starred in a cool little zombie movie called Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (1973) and then wrote more movies and some TV shows, including My Bodyguard (1980), Porky's II: The Next Day (1983) all of The Substitute sequels, and most recently a couple of episodes of the CBS series The Division.

Years pass. Then, last weekend, my wondrous wife Suz and I were out yard saling. She spotted a sale in the parking lot of a small strip mall, and I headed the Cruiser on in. After a couple minutes of perusing, I saw a small stack of paperback books sitting on one table. The top two titles were nothing I was interested in. But, I went ahead and picked up the stack. And my eyes nearly goggled out of my head when I saw that the third book down was a copy of Movie Monsters, in really good shape for a 35 year old paperback! Trying not to look too interested, I asked how much the books were. "Fifty cents," I was told. I quickly paid - and now I'm the proud owner of Movie Monsters again! Huzzah!

Maybe I'll finally do one of the makeups on myself. Til I decide, you Can Poke Me With A Fork Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. Way cool! Maybe I can paw through it next time I'm up? :)

  2. I had this book as well!!!!!! I actually sqealed with joy at the sight of that cover. My copy disappeared long ago as well.......what a blast from the past!!! Good times.

  3. little foot - Yeah, sure! It's a really cool book! And that would be fun! Leonard - I had to resist squealing with joy when I saw it at the sale - lest the seller realize how much I wanted it and charge more!

  4. I can see my copy on the shelf from where I'm sitting right now!

  5. Nothing beats stumbling over an awesome book at a yardsale. I remember making my parents stop at flea markets, on a family trip after college, so I could scout the shelves for Bond books. Added a lot of copies to my collection that way.

    I wonder if the Westmore family ever did a make-up book?