Book Review: Here There Be Monsters

Here There Be Monsters
Published by BearManor Media, 2021. 464 pages
By Bryan Senn

Being a lover and collector of horror reference books, it should be no surprise that I’ve been a fan of Senn’s work and have quite a few of his books in my library, even before I met him at a Monster Bash show in 2016. His work is always a joy to dive into because he not only packs it full of information, but you can tell it is coming from a fellow fan. And while we might always agree on some films, I still enjoy reading his take on whichever film he is writing about.

With this book, it is a collection of essays, reviews, and other writings that were either published in magazines or other books but were cut down due to size limitations or just didn’t fit in that particular publication. In this new volume, we get it all. Plus, we get a LOT of it. This volume is huge and is filled to the brim with just about every classic horror subject there is. The films covered go from the early classics of the ‘30s through the ‘60s, as well as a huge section on Mexican monster films, which I particularly enjoyed. There are even a few book reviews and some personal essays included as well.

There are plenty of quotes from different people involved in the production of these films. This shows a little insight into these films, even the low budget ones, and why they are just as important as the billion-dollar budgets we see today. In the essay on Voodoo Woman (1957), producer Alex Gordon said, “It was a nice little group of professionals – cast and crew. They didn’t look down on it because it was a 6-day picture made for $80,000. They took pride in their work and worked as hard as if they were on a bigger picture.” I think that is one of the reasons these films have lasted the test of time. No matter what the film, these people took it seriously and I think it still shows today.

And of course, how could I not praise Senn and this book when he says this about one of the greatest horror icons in the business, Paul Naschy! Senn writes, “Naschy’s film show an eccentric enthusiasm and appeal in a quirky, almost quaintly exploitative fashion that no American or British-produced horror film of the same era can duplicate.” The author then goes on to say that one of those reasons is that Naschy has a “respect and outright affection for the cinematic horror tradition.” I couldn’t agree more.

Here There Be Monsters is a wonderful trip down memory lane for die-hard classic movie fans but showing several paths to some fans that have yet to be discovered. There were several writeups on films that I am very aware of and have seen multiple times. But after reading Senn’s thoughts on it, I had me wanting to break it out once again and revisiting. Plus, even for a lifelong fan like me, there were more than a few titles that just hadn’t gotten around to yet, such as Captive Wild Woman (1943), starring John Carradine. With Senn’s writing, even if he isn’t a big fan of it, it still makes you want to check it out again! That shows that his writing comes from the heart, and I really enjoy that.

In fact, Senn writes in his introduction about when he started writing for different publications, sometimes he’d get paid, sometimes now. But it wasn’t about the monetary gains that he was doing it for, but to “get my thoughts and phrases out there to that select few who might care (i.e., horror film fans).”

From one monster loving fan to another, this book is so much fun and a great nostalgic journey that you’ll find yourself going back to time and time again.

The book is available in both hardcover ($48) and paperback ($38) formats. It is a bit pricy but once you see the size of this book, it is worth every penny.

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