Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957 -1972 – Mark Voger (TwoMorrows)

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It was all over before I born. By the time I emerged, fists balled and ready to fight the world, the monster craze that had gripped America’s youth for a decade and half had faded and died a slow, albeit reserved and dignified, death. But having been fascinated by, and somewhat obsessed with, the original wave of Universal horror movies that dominated cinemas the world over in the nineteen thirties and forties and the creature features that started to appear a decade later since I was a young whippersnapper, monsters have always held a special fascination for me. They stole my heart before I knew what it meant to fall in love and I have, for as long as I can remember, gone out of my way and done my utmost to try and follow in the footsteps of, and emulate, the ‘Monster Kids’ who came of age during, and enjoyed the monsterific bounty and pleasures of, that glorious decade and a half. And now, thanks to Monster Mash, Mark Voger’s all-encompassing and, at least from my point of view, definitive work about the craze and the people, films, shows, books, magazines, music, models, toys and more that fuelled that era, I finally feel like I, at least in part, understand it. I finally like I’m a ‘Monster Kid’.

Charting the rise of the phenomenon through the introduction of horror hosts, whose job it was to introduce and fill airtime between showings of the recently acquired library of old monster movies, to local television stations across the USA in the fifties and the birth of Famous Monsters of Film Land through to the beginning of its demise following the cancellation of Dark Shadows in 1971, Voger thoroughly explores each and every aspect* of the craze in Monster Mash. Told through personal recollections, painstaking research and the plethora of interviews  that he’s conducted during the last thirty years, Voger leaves virtually no stone unturned in his desire to share his rabid and infectious enthusiasm for the subject matter. Filled with a combination of images that document everything from film posters to magazine covers to television stills, images of every Aurora and AMT monster model kit I’ve dreamt about but never actually seen until now and much more besides and the authors light-hearted, witty, passionate, involving and intelligent prose, Monster Mash pulls you into every single one of its two hundred, over-sized pages and refuses to let you go until your brain feels like it’s about to burst from being overloaded with gloriously gory pictures, facts, histories and anecdotes. The minute you finish Monster Mash, all you’ll want to do is go right back to the beginning and read it again; and again and again and again. It is, quite simply and in all honesty, astounding.  Here be monsters… Tim Cundle

*I know I’m no expert on the subject, but I kind of feel like the opening of Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland in 1966 and 1969 respectively and the sheer volume of related merchandise produced by both Randotti and Disney that was on sale in the Park might have, in some small way, helped to fuel the fervour for all things monstrous, and slightly satiated the desires of, at least some of the Monster Kids who experienced them during that period. But like I said, I’m far from being an expert on the subject and I’m almost certainly nit-picking. So don’t listen to me, just hand your money over to TwoMorrows and order yourself a copy of Monster Mash.  Do it, do it now.

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