Mike's Bookshelf

Currently showing posts tagged Mars Attacks!

  • The Tim Burton Encyclopedia by Samuel J. Umland Book Review

    The Tim Burton Encyclopedia by Samuel J. Umland 

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Chronicling his nearly 35 year career and impact on pop culture through his uniquely dark and whimsical tales, The Tim Burton Encyclopedia by Samuel J. Umland provides readers and film enthusiasts of Burton’s colorful career a detailed overview of the artist, his many works and frequent collaborators.  Organized alphabetically, The Tim Burton Encyclopedia spares insight into the relevance of CalArts’ A113 homeroom class, Burton’s earliest and seldom seen projects including, Hansen and Gretel (1982) and Aladdin and His Magical Lamp (1986).  In addition, Umland delves into the backgrounds and impact of Burton influences such as Dr. Seuss, Disney’s The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) and Roald Dahl while, surprisingly lacking a formal section for stop-motion master Ray Harryhausen.  Covering each of Burton’s film projects in great detail, this reference guide also shines light on Burton’s many collaborators dating back to former Disney executive Richard Laurence Berger who green-lit production of Burton’s live-action short Frankenweenie (1984) to more commonly associated artists such as Johnny Depp (Edward Scissorhands, Dark Shadows) and Composer Danny Elfman (responsible for musical contributions to all of Burton’s films minus 1994’s Ed Wood).  Although sharing more scholarly asides pertaining to the inclusion of monsters in Burton’s works and a foreword from Production Designer Bo Welch (Beetlejuice, Batman Returns), The Tim Burton Encyclopedia treads familiar ground covered in more enthralling efforts from Burton biographer Mark Salisbury.  While not meant to be absorbed cover to cover, The Tim Burton Encyclopedia serves its purpose as a solid reference of the Beetlejuice director’s eccentric career with countless sections of enlightening material for Burton’s most informed appreciators.

    Available now from Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, The Tim Burton Encyclopedia can be purchased via Rowman.com, Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other fine retailers.

  • Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972 by Mark Voger Book Review

    Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972 by Mark Voger

    Reviewed by Mike Kenny

    Recounting the yesteryears of monster madness, Mark Voger’s Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972 guides readers through the countless magazine publications, late night creature features and endless memorabilia that haunted likeminded baby boomers with an appetite for the spooky.  With interviews from television/movie stars of the era and monster magazine tycoons, Voger’s look back at his frighteningly fun youth comes littered with colorful collage-filled pages of eerie goodness.

    With a foreword by John Zacherle, Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972 takes readers back to the humble beginnings of monsters’ popular hold on prepubescent boys.  From the debut of Shock Theatre and local horror hosts including, Zacherley, hypnotizing young viewers with Universal Studios’ iconic monster films and other B-movie schlockfests, the hunger for more horror-centered content began.  Voger highlights milestone publications including, Famous Monsters of Filmland, Creepy and Eerie as the premiere outlets that captivated young horror fans imaginations while, chart-topping hits including “Monster Mash” by Bobby Pickett further cemented the movement’s increasing popularity.  Sharing the joys of Super 8 reels centered on countless movie monsters, Voger details the popularity and short-lived availability of Topps’ controversial Mars Attacks! trading cards while, discussing the highs and lows of the charmingly chintzy Ben Cooper masks based on famed characters.  While parents often forbade their children to partake in such entertainment, barriers were abolished with the arrival of The Addams Family and The Munsters providing families with hilariously wholesome sitcoms centered on rather eccentric family units.  As Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s Rat Fink dioramas and General Mills’ Count Chocula and Franken Berry cereals entered into the zeitgeist, the monster craze showed little sign of slowing down.  With a considerable portion of the book focused on the enduring popularity of the long-running Dark Shadows series, the show’s eventual cancellation and arrival of game changing features including, The Exorcist spelled certain doom for the more innocent scares of age-old monsters and their cobweb-infested lairs.  

    With his passion apparent in every page, Mark Voger’s recollections of the past nicely scratches the surface of the various layers of creepy entertainment provided during the golden years of monster fandom.  While each section is limited to only several pages each, the lack of more detailed information is substituted with Voger’s personal insight and a plethora of images showcasing the toys, board games, dioramas and magazine art that marveled fans.  Accompanied with countless, if not dated, interviews with Famous Monsters of Filmland’s James Warren and Forrest J. Ackerman, The Addams Family’s John Astin and Lisa Loring, The Munsters’ Al Lewis, Butch Patrick and Pat Priest plus, multiple cast members of Dark Shadows, Voger’s sit-downs deliver entertaining pitstops although rarely providing information unknown to fellow monster kids.  

    Best appreciated as a hauntingly nostalgic walk down memory lane, self-professed monster kid Mark Voger provides an excellent sampling of the multiple facets that defined the monster craze.  With a stunning array of images graced across each page, Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972 may not be the definitive statement on the monster movement of yesterday but, stands as a charming crash course of the thrills and chills that fascinated baby boomers during the aftermath of horror’s golden age.

    Available now from TwoMorrows Publishing, Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972 can be purchased via TwoMorrows.com and Amazon.com.