Monster movie fans might get a fright from “A Field Guide to Monsters” and not because of what the book covers, but because it does it in such a horrifying way.
The 192-page book features mostly single-page entries on dozens of movie monsters and tidbits of information on each. Written in a tounge-in-cheek style, the writers joke about every monster from “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” to the Mr. Stay-Puft, the Marshmellow Man. Sure, it’s all in good fun, but the jokes for the most part are just so groan-inducing that it’s hard to read.
Each entry includes some biographical data, such as diet, weaknesses, intelligence level and abilities. It also includes “jokey” bio data such as endorsements and relatives.
The problem is that its just too mixed up, sometimes the readers get the straight facts on a monster and on another monster, it’s “the facts with a twist.” That makes for some uneven reading — at least for an adult. A fifth-grader might just eat this all up — even though his parents might be screeching at some of the gross-out images.
Likewise, “Field Guide” might be too sophisticated for a fifth-grader. Since I like RoboCop, take a look at his entry. Listed in his “endorsements” are Skynet and Tyrell Corp.
OK, I want every fifth-grader out there who knows what those are to raise his hand.
So I bet you’re thinking “Well, that’s just proof it’s not for a young kid.” Eh, maybe, but why do we have references to the Might Morphin’ Power Rangers, the Wizard of Oz and Shrek?
Additionally, there’s quite a few typos throughout the book, and some of the actual data seems incorrect. For example, the Grim Reaper is listed as appearing in “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” rather than “Bogus Journey.” (And to be classy, they should have listed his first appearance as being in “The Seventh Seal,” which “Bogus Journey” jokes about.)
Still, there are some neat features about the book. The afformentioned gross-out pictures are all wonderful and in full color where available. This thing is really nicely illustrated from a wide time period of movies that stretches back to silent films and up to the 2000s.
Additionally, the back of the book features a neat sizing guide that shows each of the creatures inside compared to one another.
Unfortunately, nice art and neat graphics can’t make up for the book’s clunky delivery, spelling errors and lack of context.
“A FIELD GUIDE TO MONSTERS: This Book Could Save Your Life”
By Dave Elliot, C.J. Henderson and R. Allen Leider
One-and-a-half stars out of four (Great pictures, great layout, bad jokes)