Book Review: Monster Movies of Universal Studios

Monster Movies of Universal StudiosThe 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.

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Horror History: Reynold Brown

reynoldbrownReynold Brown
Born Oct. 18th, 1917 – Died Aug. 24th, 1991

You probably have never heard of the name Reynold Brown, which is a tragedy. This man’s work is recognized by millions of film fans, but sadly they don’t even realize who Brown was. In the years before the internet, if there is one job in the movie business that is probably responsible for getting to people to come to the movies, it was the artists creating the movie poster. This was what the future audience was going to look at and decide that they had to come back next week to see that movie, so the image had to jump out at them and draw them in immediately. And one of these guys responsible for that in the ’50s through the ’60s, was Reynold Brown.

Between 1951 and 1970, he created somewhere between 250 and 275 movie posters.  And a LOT of them, I guarantee that you’ve seen before. Titles like Creature from the Black Lagoon, Revenge of the Creature, Tarantula, This Island Earth, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, or even The Deadly Mantis. Each one of these pieces truly is a work of incredible art. Not only just recreating a giant monster on the poster, but creating a story right there in one lookBeing left-handed, at a time when that wasn’t ‘normal’, his grammar school teachers forced him to write “properly” with his right hand. Of course, he still used his left hand to doodle and draw. And that he did. He continued to draw all through high school, even getting a scholarship for an art school, but couldn’t go because of the death of his father. But he still continued to work on his talent, eventually working on a comic strip called Tailspin Tommy. After the advice of one of his heroes, Norman Rockwell, he got a job as an illustrator at North American Aviation, doing technical illustrations for service manuals. He eventually worked as a freelance illustrated for years, eventually getting a teaching job as Art Center College, which he did for 26 years.

In 1951, he did his first movie poster, for the film The World in His Arms. Some of his posters are iconic and ones that we’ve been seeing for years. So Reynold Brown is a name that needs to be remembered for his work in this field, and for creating such incredible works of art, making us want to see those movies over and over again. The sad part is that there were times that Brown, and a lot of other movie poster artists, were not allowed to sign their names on the artwork. That is a real tragedy.

Check out the official website by clicking HERE. There was also a documentary on him made in 1994 called The Man Who Drew Bug-Eyed Monsters, which is available to watch on YouTube. Below is part one, then you should be able to see the links for the other three parts. It definitely is worth a watch.