Sunday, July 5, 2015

Review: 'Monster Mash: The Creepy Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972'

Writers such as David Skal have dealt with the zany monster revival of the fifties and sixties before, but as far as I know, Monster Mash: The Creepy Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972 is the first book devoted to that topic alone. Mark Voger makes up for lost time by cramming as many monsters, Munsters, Addamses, Dark Shadows, issues of Famous Monsters of Filmland and Creepy, Borises Karloff and Pickett, horrific toys, models, and hot rods into a slim 190 pages as he can stuff. Unlike scholarly Skal, Voger captures the gee-whiz enthusiasm of a true Monster Kid with goofy prose and a scattered structure that screams, “Oh wait…here’s another boss thing that happened during the monster craze!”

The focus of Monster Mash is its copious interviews and photos. During his career as a journalist and pro-horror geek, Voger has interviewed such genre major players as writer/editor Forrest J. Ackerman, publisher James Warren, singer Bobby “Boris” Pickett, artists Basil Gogos and Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, and actors John Astin, Lisa Loring, Al Lewis, Butch Patrick, Pat Priest, and Kathryn Leigh Scott. Those fun (it’s heartwarming to discover how much the “Addams Family” cast adored each other), sometimes frothy interviews constitute a good portion of this book’s text. However, they cannot compete with all the ghoulishly, gleefully, garish full-color photos of monster memorabilia. Don Post masks and Famous Monsters covers and comics panels and Aurora models and “Munsters” lunchboxes and Wolf Man dolls and Gill Man Soakies. Looking at Monster Mash is like having a giant nostalgia bug lay lovely eggs in your eye sockets. Get it on here:
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