100 Pages of Horror –FrightFest Guide to Monster Movies by Michael Gingold

Our page turning book review feature delving into the most devilish books and graphic novels returns with the latest offering from the fabulous FAB Press who have thankfully reteamed with FrightFest after the brilliant Guide to Exploitation Movies by Alan Jones.

This time it’s the myriad of monster movies that get a grilling courtesy of lifelong monster-movie fan Michael Gingold. Having written for horror magazines including Fangorie and Gorezone, contributed reviews to many movie guides and liner notes to numerous Blu-ray releases as well as appearing in several horror documentaries and featurettes Gingold has more than enough experience of all things monstrous to fill over 235 pages of this splendid guide with 200 of the his favourite frightening, fantastical and fun monster films.

Opening with an introduction from FrightFest themselves running down all the beasts that have received a premiere at their fests in London and Glasgow over the years in films from Jeepers Creepers in 2001, Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy in 2004, Gareth Edwards’ Monsters in 2010 and Shin Godzilla last year we also get a full biography of the author before plunging head long into a hilarious foreword by Frank Henenlotter.

Cult-favourite filmmaker and creator of some of the screen’s most idiosyncratic and bizarre beings including Belial from the Basket Case series, Henenlotter starts by saying how you should be glad he didn’t write this book as it would have been filled with the terrible trash and laughable litter that make up his personal favourite monster films.

Giving us a rundown of his best which include some of the worst ever made it’s a real insane insight into this legend of horror helping us all understand the unhinged mind that directed the warped and wonderful Brain Damage and Frankenhooker both of which turn up on the guides pages later on.

Interesting before detailing his list of monsters chronologically expert author Gingold takes the time to tell us what a monster is primarily by saying what it isn’t. Although he excludes zombies, vampires, werewolves, human monsters, demons, possessed people and normal sized animals with bad attitudes, explain his reasons throughout, excitingly Gingold hints each of these will hopefully receive their very own FrightFest Guide in the future making for an even more monstrous collection of books for the reader even if they are aren’t included here as monsters.

His essay continues skirting through the history of the genre drawing out key films and themes within movies and TV from Sesame Street to Buffy and taking in Sci-Fi and Fantasy films as well as horror proving how pertinent monsters have been throughout the years.

What is quickly clear is monsters are everywhere in massive blockbusters like Lord of the Rings, in children’s films like Hotel Transylvania, in comedies like Gremlins and they keep coming back the evidence for that being the multiple versions of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein which was first adapted in 1910 and has been brought back to life again and again with 3 version coming out the last 3 years.
Monsters also show up in every culture and country with American apes, Swedish trolls, British aliens and the king of them all Japans Godzilla amongst the most famous and they continue to stand in for a raft of humanities fears including rampaging nature, Communism, atomic power and the unknown in every sense of the word.

From here we move to the real run down as Michael Gingold goes in depth in a massive amount of movies starting with The Golem: How He Came Into The World a silent German film from 1920 and The Lost World from 1925 running right through to The Void and Kong: Skull Island from 2016 and 2017 respectively.

In between there are the Universal Studios favourites, the big bugs, atomic mutants and space invaders that terrorised the ’50s, the kaiju of Japan, the full-colour fiends from Hammer and the ecological nightmares of the ’70s and ’80s all the way up to the CG creatures and updated favourites of more recent years.

Packed with fascinating information and insight on every film and glorious glossy pictures throughout the FrightFest Guide to Monster Movies is a cracking read perfect for everyone be they curious spectator or cult connoisseur.

Monster fans need this book right now and horror movie heads will love it too being that it crosses over so many genres and contains so many fantastic films. An excellent addition to Alan Jones Guide to Exploitation Movies Michael Gingold’s magnificent book proves that any more volumes from FAB and FrightFest will be must have purchases for sure.

The FrightFest Guide to Monster Movies by Michael Gingold is out now and available from any decent book shop in fact if they don’t sell it don’t ever go their again. Find out more and order directly from FAB here: https://www.fabpress.com/frightfest-guide-monster-movies.html You can also read the rest of our 100 Pages of Horror by clicking the HERE.


Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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