about this book: (1) It has much merit. Probably the most complete
single volume compendium of horror films, it's only serious challenger
the pricer Overlook
Encyclopedia. (2) It could easily have been better. This
book is intentionally incomplete, for which there is no excuse.
ago, Leonard Maltin began dropping old movies from each new edition of
his guide, the new squeezing out the old. Perhaps his publisher thought
the public wouldn't shell out for two new volumes every year, so it's been
kept to one. Worse, Maltin's ax falls disproportionately on obscure
appears well-poised to fill this knowledge gap. A former horror host
on KTUV-TV, he has "interviewed and profiled hundreds" of genre talents. He spent a decade writing his Creature
Features Movie Guide, self-published in 1981 under Creatures at Large
Press, at 208 pages. Warner published the second edition in 1984. Creatures at Large reverted to publishing the third and fourth editions,
by now 454 pages.
fifth edition is the first to be released as a mass market paperback, the
first without artwork or stills. That's fine. [Since writing
this review, there has been a sixth edition released in 2000, a trade paperback,
likewise without stills]. A cover blurb cites Fangoria calling Stanley
"the Leonard Maltin of horror!" That's sadly too true.
pamphlet from Stanley says: "in order to make this new mass-market paperback
size manageable and affordable, several thousand items had
to be cut to make way for more up-to-date material." My emphasis. The pamphlet suggests buying the fourth edition "in order to have a
complete Creature Features library." The fourth edition also
dropped older entries, while keeping all titles and stating which previous
edition contained the complete entry. This is no longer true with
what's in and what's out. Tenuous "fantasy" fare such as The
Nude Bomb and James Bond films remain. Sincere genre efforts
like Splatter University and Warren's Terror were dropped. Splash is in, but not Splash, Too. There's
no excuse for this. Not when this edition has 582 pages and Leonard
Maltin's latest has 1,614. Not when these missing entries already
exist on Stanley's hard drive.
Boulevard Books: PUBLISH ALL THE ENTRIES! NOW!
I do not
condemn Stanley. His is a worthy book, always the first horror film
reference I select, from over a hundred plus on my shelves, to begin any
research. I only want more.
yes, Stanley should list running times and directors. Maltin's spoiled
me for those.
errors arise. Of Superstition Stanley writes: "a body gutted and chopped in half by a descending window
frame, the toes of a swimmer eaten off ... a woman nailed to the floor
with spikes (including one through her brain)." Actually, the
boy was severed by an ascending window frame, Heidi Bohay's toes
remain intact, and there was just that one spike. But Stanley wrote
every review in his book, has seen every film (thousands). Noble
work by a diligent scholar, so one is forgiving.
Review copyright by Thomas