The Monster At The End Of This Book

One of my favorite childhood books of all time, and one of the first books I remember enjoying, was The Monster At The End Of This Book.

250px-The_Monster_at_the_End_of_This_Book_Starring_Lovable,_Furry_Old_Grover

A Little Golden Book featuring Sesame Street‘s Grover, TMATEOTB is a “post-modern” book in which Grover breaks the fourth wall, pleading with readers not to turn the pages so that they won’t meet the monster he has read about in the title. Along the way, he tries to fix pages so that the reader can’t turn them, nailing some and bricking up others. These plans are repeatedly foiled as the reader turns the page, and the destruction of these plans can be found on the subsequent pages (fallen bricks, busted wood planks, etc). When we get to the end, we discover that the monster at the end of the book is (SPOILER!) Grover himself, a joke that delighted me as a kid and still delights me today.

Recently I was able to share this experience with my 2-year-old daughter via an Amazon app called Another Monster At The End Of This Book. This app features Elmo and Grover in an updated, interactive remake of the original. My daughter loved it, and I thought it was okay, but, as with most remakes, I prefer the original.

Merry Christmas from the Metaluna Mutant

One of the worst things about Christmas is accidentally giving someone a gift that they already have. I eliminated that possibility with my father this year by making him an 8′ tall Metaluna Mutant for Christmas.

My Dad is a fan of 1950’s Science Fiction, so the mutant from 1955’s This Island Earth (the film spoofed in the original MST3K movie) seemed like the perfect choice for a piece of Christmas artwork. Nobody’s going to fight those claws for the last slice of pie this holiday season, no sir!

For a long and detailed look at how I created this monster you can check out this lengthy post on my website that shows every step of the process, from cutting the wood to painting the details.

Burger King Universal Monster Figures

We’ve all gotten some great premiums in Happy Meals and other fast food kids’ dinners. Definitely in the running for the greatest premiums of all time, though, are the Burger King Universal Monster action figures.

Burger King was giving these gems away in 1997. They were 3.75 inches high (the proper height of an action figure, as we all know), had those Star Wars holes in the feet so they could be stood on those Star Wars pegs, had articulated heads and limbs, and came with little settings. The Wolf Man had a cellar he rose out of, Dracula a coffin, and Frankenstein’s Monster a lab table. I don’t know what set the Creature came with, but I doubt it was a lagoon.

These figures are really great, especially considering they were give-away toys, and you can still get them on Ebay, even unopened, fairly cheaply today.

Crestwood House Monster Series

In an amazing confluence of retroism yesterday, Vic posted about the classic Universal monster movie Werewolf of London and mentioned the Crestwood House book that references it while I, hours earlier, had checked out that book for no other reason than nostalgia while at the library with my daughter.

Vic was right; though the book is called “The Wolf Man” a la the Lon Chaney film, it has Henry Hull’s picture from “Werewolf of London” on the cover. The book covers both films and several others.

I thought I had already posted about the Crestwood House Monster Series, but apparently I haven’t. I’ve only alluded to it in a couple of posts. So it’s time to make up for that. The Crestwood House Monster Series was a set of juvenile books about the classic old movie monsters, including not only the Universal standards (Dracula, Wolf Man, Mummy) but also King Kong and several other spooks. They were filled with b&w photos and their covers had a black and orange scheme.

King Kong “suggests” you read about his friends. I don’t think it’s really a suggestion.

There were two types of these books. Some, like The Blob merely recapped one movie. Others, like Dracula, The Wolf Man, and King Kong, cover several movies as well as bits of related information. The Dracula book not only recaps the Bela Legosi Dracula film, but talks a little about Bram Stoker, Vlad Tepes, Translyvania, and other films like Dracula’s Daughter, Hammer’s Dracula, and Blackula.

The line about “the clever Japanese” is one that has stuck in my head since I first read this book in the school library. This is one of the lines that I love to find today, because I know I read that exact phrase all those years ago and so know that this must be the exact book I read back then.

Today, these books seem quite light to me, their information nowhere close to being indepth or authoritative. But as I read these books in the pre-VCR days, they were my only link to such films and my chief source of information about these monsters. And for that reason, they still have a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf.

King Kong seems to be the unofficial mascot of the Crestwood House Monster Series. I’m not sure why that is, but I like it.

Dick Smith’s Do-It-Yourself Monster Make-Up Book

Was there ever a kid who didn’t check Dick Smith’s Do-It-Yourself Monster Make-Up Book out of the library? Well, probably. But it wasn’t me. I checked this gem out at the same time I was pulling The Eerie Series books off the library shelves.

In this book, monster make-up maven Dick Smith teachers eager young boys how to turn their friends into hideous creatures. Unfortunately, this book didn’t turn me into a special effects whiz as it did Greg Nicotero, Rob Bottin, and Rick Baker. In fact, I never got to even try any of the techniques. But I did enjoy looking at the pictures and dreaming of the day I would make up my friends in these outlandish ways.