think we all need at least one really nice positive thing about the
entertainment  business every single day of the year, including
weekends. Sometimes it may be something simple, like a video that
showcases something fun and sometimes it may be a movie poster that
embraces the aesthetic we all want Hollywood to aspire to. Sometimes it
may be a long-winded diatribe. Sometimes it’ll be from the staff and
extended family of CHUD.com. Maybe even you readers can get in on it.
So, take this to the bank. Every day, you will get a little bit of
positivity from one column a day here. Take it with you. Maybe it’ll
help you through a bad day or give folks some fun things to hunt down in
their busy celluloid digesting day.

By Joshua Miller (Facebook)

What I’m Thankful For:

Ian Thorne’s Monsters Series

This is the perfect way to kick off my plan to be thankful for horror related things all October long…

In this column last month, while being thankful for the old monster movies at my public library when I was a kid, I made passing reference to an old monster book. I said I couldn’t recall much of the book other than a single picture of Oliver Reed from The Curse of the Werewolf. I also said that if I could figure out what that book was it would make the “nostalgia purchase of a lifetime.” Well, god bless the Internet. Matt, a buddy of mine back in Minnesota, saw the post and shot me an email with a book title included: “Was this the book you were talking about?” I wasn’t sure. Seemed possible, but like I’d said, I could only really remember that Oliver Reed pic. But the sirens of curiosity and nostalgia lured me in and I hunted the book down and bought it anyway.

The book actually arrived on my birthday, of all days. I immediately popped it open, and what do you know, the first page I turn to…

…there is goddamn Mr. Reed in his goddamn werewolf make up! The exact picture fuzzily buried in the depths of my memory, now suddenly buried no more.

In his great autobiography, My Last Sigh, Luis Bunuel said, “Memory may be omnipotent and indispensable, but it’s also terribly fragile.” As someone whose career (and hobbies) intimately revolve around my ability to remember random shit from my life and those of others, I could not believe I had so thoroughly forgotten this wonderful book. Holding its hard cover in my hands, thumbing through the worn pages, and seeing the library stamps and bar-code from the used copy I’d purchased, I experienced a fascinating bit of total recall. Memories from 25 years ago we suddenly shooting back into my mind.

How could I have forgotten Ian Thorne’s orange-covered Monster Series?

At least it seems I wasn’t the only one who had somewhat forgotten. Aside from a very scant scattering of blog posts and message board chatter from fans of Thorne’s series, there is almost no proper information about the books or Thorne on-line – they don’t even have a sad, bare bones Wikipedia page.

Published by Crestwood House in 1977, Thorne’s first series covered King Kong, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein, Dracula, Godzilla, and Mad Scientists. Designed perfectly for kids, the books feature large type, mind-numbingly simple prose, and tons of intriguing black & white photos. Presuming that the rest of the series follows the same format as my new cherished possession, The Wolf Man, the first portion of the book is dedicated to summarizing a single film (in this case the Lon Chaney Jr The Wolf Man), then followed by information about sequels and later versions of the character.

Front and back view.

In the early 80’s Thorne did another series, with the same spirit, style, and orange covers, though as he was clearly running out of horror icons the series also started to focus on specific films instead of specific monsters. Then for whatever reason, Crestwood and Thorne parted ways. In the mid-80’s Crestwood started a new monster series (with purple covers) written by Carl R. Green, William R. Sanford, and Howard Schroeder, which now focused solely on specific films. These purple books were coming out right around the time that I stopped going to the library as much, so I’m not sure if I ever saw them. But judging from fan reactions I’ve read on-line, they don’t seem as beloved as the orange series.

While not as important as the horror films themselves, Thorne’s books were crucial to my development as a monster nut. The series exposed me to all the films and monsters and stories I didn’t have access to back in the archaic pre-Internet days. This was the Famous Monsters of Filmland for my generation, which makes the relative obscurity of the books now somewhat of a surprise. Someone needs to reprint these, stat!

So for helping turn me on to an amazing world full of monstrous things, I am thankful for Crestwood House, Ian Thorne, and the Monster Series. (And to Matt for jogging my memory.)

For shits’n’giggles, here’s a complete round-up of the series.

Orange Series:
King Kong
Mad Scientists
The Wolf Man
The Mummy
Creature From the Black Lagoon
Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman
The Blob
It Came From Outer Space
The Deadly Mantis
The Invisible Man
The Phantom of the Opera
Murders in the Rue Morgue

Purple Series:
Black Friday
Bride of Frankenstein
Dracula’s Daughter
Ghost of Frankenstein
The Mole People
The Raven
Werewolf of London
The Black Cat
House of Fear
House of the Seven Gables
Revenge of the Creature

I was previously thankful for:
Video Store Memories
Carl Barks
Southdale Public Library
The Triumvirate of Los Angeles Revival Theaters
Movie Trailers on the Big Screen