Thursday, 1 October 2015

Monsters of the Movies

When I was at primary school, they used to run a book club where you could buy books with your pocket money. One of the purchases I made was Denis Gifford's "Monsters of the Movies" for the princely sum of 45p.


The book fascinated me and probably inspired my love of horror films. However, re-reading the book recently there are a few wrinkles I hadn't noticed.

The book was published in 1977 and had 46 entries:

The Alligator People in
The Alligator People (1959)
Certificate X
The Ape Man in
The Ape Man (1942)
Certificate X (now PG)
Barnabas Collins in
House of Dark Shadows (1970)
Certificate X (now 18)
The Beast in
Beauty and the Beast (1946)
Certificate A (now PG)
The Blood Beast Terror in
The Blood Beast Terror (1967)
Certificate X (now 12)
The Bride of Frankenstein in
The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Certificate A (now PG)
Carmilla in
The Vampire Lovers (1969)
Certificate X (now 15)
The Cat in
The Cat and the Canary (1939)
Certificate A (now PG)
Count Yorga in
Count Yorga, Vampire (1970)
Certificate X
Countess Dracula in
Countess Dracula (1971)
Certificate X (now 18)
The Creature in
The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
Certificate A (now PG)
The Creeper in
The Brute Man (1946)
Certificate A
The Demon in
The Curse of the Demon (1958)
Certificate X (now PG)
Dr Caligari in
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1919)
Certificate A (now U)
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1931)
Certificate A (now 12A)
Dr Moreau in
The Island of Lost Souls (1932)
Certificate - (now PG)
Dr Phibes in
The Abominable Dr Phibes (1971)
Certificate X (now 15)
Dr X in
Doctor X (1932)
Certificate A
Dracula in
Dracula (1931)
Certificate A (now PG)
The Electric Man in
Man-Made Monster (1941)
Certificate A
The Fly in
The Fly (1958)
Certificate X (now PG)
Frankenstein's Monster in
Frankenstein (1931)
Certificate A (now PG)
Fu Manchu in
The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)
Certificate A
The Ghoul in
The Ghoul (1933)
Certificate A (now PG)
The Golem in
The Golem (1920)
Certificate - (now PG)
The Gorgon in
The Gorgon (1964)
Certificate X (now 12)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame in
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
Certificate A (now PG)
The Invisible Man in
The Invisible Man (1933)
Certificate A (now PG)
King Kong in
King Kong (1933)
Certificate A (now PG)
The Mad Monster in
The Mad Monster (1941)
Certificate -
The Manster in
The Split (1962)
Certificate X
The Mummy in
The Mummy's Hand (1941)
Certificate A (now PG)
The Munsters in
Munster, Go Home! (1966)
Certificate U (now U)
Nosferatu in
Nosferatu (1922)
Certificate A (now PG)
Orlac in
The Hands of Orlac (1935)
Certificate A
The Phantom of the Opera in
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Certificate U (now PG)
The Raven in
The Raven (1935)
Certificate A (now 15)
The Reptile in
The Reptile (1966)
Certificate X (now 15)
Teenage Werewolf in
I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)
Certificate X (now 15)
The Walking Dead in
The Walking Dead (1936)
Certificate A
The Werewolf of London in
Werewolf of London (1934)
Certificate A (now PG)
White Zombie in
White Zombie (1932)
Certificate A (now PG)
The Wild Woman in
The Jungle Captive (1944)
Certificate H
The Wolf Man in
The Wolf Man (1941)
Certificate A (now PG)
Zaroff in
The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
Certificate A (now 12)
The Zombie in
The Plague of the Zombies (1966)
Certificate X (now 12A)

Here are my thoughts:
  • The latest films listed were released in 1971, so perhaps Mr Gifford wrote the book a few years before it was finally published.
  • The fact that's there 46 entries, as opposed to some nice "round" number like 50 is probably due to the limitations of the cheap printing: there are 48 leaves between the soft covers.
  • Some of the films are a bit suspect for a book obviously aimed at children: "The Vampire Lovers" and "The Abominable Dr Phibes" being prime examples.
  • "The Island of Lost Souls" was rejected by the BBFC and only given an X certificate in 1958.
  • "The Golem" was never release in the UK.
  • "The Mad Monster" was initially rejected by the BBFC and only given an X certificate in 1952.
  • "Countess Dracula" is currently listed as a 18 certificate, but this is presumably because it hasn't been re-submitted. It's the equivalent of a PG in the USA.
  • All the zombies listed are "voodoo zombies"; "Night of the Living Dead" (1968) isn't listed.
  • Some of the films aren't even monster films and a few are actually comedies.
  • I've managed to see just over half of the films on the list.
  • The most obscure is surely "The Split" which I'm dying to see.
If I were going to "round up" the list to 50 by adding four more, which monsters would I choose? Funnily enough, they're all 1950s films (which seems to be under-represented in the original list):
  1. "The Thing from Another World" (1951)
  2. "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" (1953) not because it's a good film, but because of fond memories staying up late to watch it on TV during the school holidays.
  3. "Godzilla" (1954) - how did this not get on the list?
  4. "The Blob" (1958)
Two films that just missed the cut were "Forbidden Planet" (1956) and "The Day of the Triffids" (1962).

UPDATE 2016-09-03: I've discovered that some of the more esoteric movies are now available at archive.org.

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