Vintage Monster Movies
by Robert Marrero. Robert Hale Ltd. Paperback. 160
I must say that I
admire anything written about the Golden Age of horror. Unfortunately this book is
Aside from it being continually full of inaccuracies, it offers nothing new for those with
an interest or devotion to the genre, and more importantly it is harmful to those
just building a fascination for the subject. These people would naturally assume that the
author knew what he was talking about and would themselves unknowingly perpetuate the many
misconceptions that are already hard enough for us to unravel.
Marrero's lamentable attempt to cover the
classic horror films leading up to the Sixties amazingly claims on the back cover to be "the
most comprehensive guide to the vintage monster film. A must for all fans of horror
movies." This is an ambitious claim that even the most ardent scholars would
be hesitant to make.
Just to give you an example of the most
glaring errors, might I point out to Mr. Marrero that The
Cat and the Canary (1927) was made by Universal studios and not First
National; the star of Vampyr (1931), Baron Nicholas
de Gunzberg used Julian West as a pseudonym not Christian Jul; The Man Who Laughs (1928) was directed by Paul Leni and not Tod Browning. In addition the film that Marrero repeatedly refers to
as GAFT is in fact GRAFT and was directed by Christy Cabanne not James Whale. I could go on forever with these,
but it demonstrates just how little research has gone into the work. What really annoys me
is that a book like this actually gets to see the light of day while other, more worthy
manuscripts are passed over completely.
I find it difficult to grasp that Marrero
claims the Thirties to be his own particular favourite period of the horror genre when
there seems to have been no effort on his part to verify the information printed within.
To find something good to write, I must mention the impressive selection of stills and I
admit that the inaccuracies become fewer during the book's later stages, however, by that
time the damage has already been done. It is somewhat fitting that the introduction is
written by Forrest J. Ackerman. I'm not afraid to stick my neck out and say that I never
cared much for this man's self promotion. I always found "Famous Monsters" to be
thin as far as information is concerned and I generally got tired of reading how the
Ackermonster, Mr. Sci-fi, Dr. Akula, or however he wants to be called these days used the
magazine to blow his own trumpet and imply that he is somehow the father of all monster
movies. Sorry Mr. Ackerman, the monster movie would have flourished even without you.
Don't make the same mistake I did and
purchase this book. If you are looking for an informed and also entertaining guide to
start you on your journey of the genre, find yourself a copy of Denis Gifford's A Pictorial
History of Horror Movies instead.
I'm forced to replace Robert Marrero's seemingly ill-used term of "brilliant"
with, well many different words come to mind, but perhaps I will just suggest that you
avoid this one like the plague.
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