The Monster Movies of Universal Studios
By James L. Neibaur
Published by Rowman & Littlefield, 2017. 213 pages.
Anytime there is a book about the Universal monster movies, then count me in, since I’m always up for revisiting these classic films. Of course, the only problem is that since this subject has been written about just a few times before, it might be tough to come up with something new and different for readers to get information that have haven’t several times before. But overall, I think that Neibaur does a good job discussing these films.
After a very brief history of Universal Studios (which could be a book on it’s own), the it follows all the movies from there that feature their main set of monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Wolf Man, the Invisible Man, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. So any film that featured one of these monsters, or possibly their descendent, the title is covered. There is a total of 29 features covered here, starting with 1931’s Dracula and ending with The Creature Walks Among Us (1956), with each chapter covering each of the titles. The credits and cast are listed, before Neibaur gets into details of each film, such as the plot, information about the people involved, and some other trivia as well.
Neibaur gives us a nice walk down memory lane with this book. If you’re new to these films, it would be a tough call to read through them, since the plots are revealed. Not that there are any big mysteries, but it is still nice to see a film not knowing what is going to happen. But he also gives us some good information about the making of the film, and the cast and crew behind the productions. If anything, once you read through these, I’m sure there are going to be several of the titles that you’re going to feel like busting out and re-watching again. I know it did for me.
At the end of each chapter, he leads into what the next film is going to be. Then when you start to read about that title, he goes over some of the same information again. If you were picking this up and just starting to read a single chapter, then it doesn’t matter. But when reading it straight through, you do get that repeating details each time. A very minor complaint.
The book has plenty of photos throughout the pages, both stills from the films as well as publicity shots and some poster materials. While it is a well laid out and a nice hardcover edition book, the price tag of $38 or so seems a bit high for this size book. But if you can put the price aside, I think any monster fan would have fun reading over some of their favorite titles of these classic monster films. I know I did.