Friday, October 26, 2018

Movie Monster Memories

In the Second Grade, I stole a book.  Yes, my life of crime has been well documented.  I stole it from the classroom library.  I was the only person that ever checked it out and I couldn't find it anywhere else. At least, so I justified. So around the last day of school, I just swiped it.  I'm not proud of it.  But as karma will be, a few years later, another kid stole it from me. And I've been looking for it ever since.

So I was ecstatic when I found this beat up copy at a garage sale over the summer.

"Movie Monsters Monster Make-Up & Monster Shows to Put On" may be a really long and awkward title, but it's a pretty cool book.  Written and illustrated by Alan Ormsby, the book is broken into 3 parts -- a "Ghoulery" of classic movie monsters (Universal for the most part), "How to Make a Monster" featuring monster make-up tips and "Monster Show" which provides a script for putting on your own monster play (or film if you have your parents' permission to use their camera).

A side note: I "swiped" a lot of these scans from the internet too.  Sorry, I can't help myself.  In the interest of time, I grabbed what was available and scanned the remainder from my own book. My thanks goes to the other lovers of this book who took the time to scan the pages I used including Mr. Karswell and Sicko-Psychotic.

When I first read this book, I had no idea who "Young Frankenstein" was, but it angered me that they were mocking Frankenstein's monster. A zipper in his neck?! C'mon!

While I had a passing interest in the previous pages (particularly, my favorite monster, The Wolfman), this is where the book hooked me.  

The idea of creating your own makeup and putting on a show was alluring, despite my previous experience in putting on shows. I also dreamed of how this book would be of great help come Halloween.  I had hopes of leveraging these newfound makeup tips into that coming Halloween's costume.  It's probably no coincidence that my desire to create my own costume that year since the previous Halloween was the year my mother dressed me as a girl, as told in this epic retelling.

I would break rule #2 that coming Halloween.  I was confused by the term "pancake" makeup.  I had no idea where to find some. If only we'd had the internet back then. I'm not sure why I didn't just use cornstarch as his recommended alternative.

#9 -- It's clear I didn't read through that entire make-up section first.  I don't recall any of it beyond "pancake makeup".

Weird warts? Skip, a wolfman doesn't have warts.

Recipe for blood? I already had my trusty Imagineering brand Vampire Blood. No need to mix my own.

Scars? Wolfmen don't have scars.

I wasn't going as Dracula, but I did take some notes on the eyebrow pencil.

Blacula? Not this honky.

Despite dressing up as a girl the previous Halloween, it wouldn't be happening again.

Same goes for being a Bride of any kind.

I'd never seen The Phantom of the Opera and being a silent film, I really didn't count him in the class of the other Universal monsters.

No need for Mummy hands.

Nor Melting Hands

Here we go, "Wolfman's Hands". Crepe hair? What the heck is that. An old wig? My mom would kill me if I cut up her wig. There's that "pancake makeup" again. Auggh!  Forget it.  No one will look at my hands.

Okay. "Wolfman's Make-up". Let's get down to business.  Crepe hair, again?! Old wigs? Pancake make-up?! Let's review my available inventory.  Mom's compact powder and eyeliner.  Eyelash makeup. That's not gonna help. Ah, good enough.

I did not end up looking like the above. I ended up powdering my face with compact powder, putting some eyeliner under my eyes and smudging and for some reason spread "Vampire Blood" all over my nose.  There was no mention of fangs above, but I improvised and broke my Vampire teeth in half and used the bottom half with the teeth protruding over my upper lip.  With my plaid shirt and jeans on (standard Wolfman garb), I was ready.  How I wish someone had taken a picture.

My grandparents lived down the road from me and that was my first stop:

"Oh my goodness, look at that bloody nose." Yeah, but I'm a wolfman, right? You can see that? Right?

The next house: "Look at the tramp!"  I'm a wolfman. Trick or Treat.

Next house: "Look at the bum!"  I'm a wolfman. Trick or Treat.

Next house: "Oh, a little tramp." Yep. Give me some candy.

Thus it is, our dreams are crushed.

But let's move on with the rest of the book, shall we?

I considered this heavily since Frankenstein (yes, it's Frankenstein's Monster, but you know what we all called him) was probably my second favorite monster. But man, this seem really involved. Okay, I was a lazy kid.

This play didn't appeal to me because it was played for jokes and gags.  Again, I took my monsters serious.

"If you shop around carefully, you should be able to put together a pretty complete make-up kit for under $10.00"

$10?!  I never even got to hold that much money. No wonder I ended up looking like a bum.

Alan Ormsby went on to script, direct and even act in horror films such as the 1972 cult classic "Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things".  You can see Alan in the lead role as, well, "Alan" of course, along with his Monster Makeup skills.

Ormsby wrote the script for the teen coming-of-age movie "My Bodyguard" and went on to establish a working relationship with Bob "A Christmas Story" Clark including writing "Porky's II: The Next Day".

Ormsby is also the creator of "Hugo, Man of a Thousand Faces", also known as "Man of a Thousand Kids' Nightmares". I remember looking at him in the Sears catalog and thinking how creepy it was.

Here's an interview with Alan Ormsby from 1999 about the making of "Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things".

Another interview with Ormsby, this about the making of "Deranged".


  1. These are awesome illustrations!! What a great book to have- I would totally swipe it. I love reading the descriptions of all the classic horror monsters. My husband and I were Frankenstein and bride of Frankenstein for Halloween party last weekend. So fun!

    1. Thanks, Holli. I hope your make up turned out better than mine.

  2. We had Hugo and we loved him - not one nightmare ever. At least you were mistaken for a bum instead of a girl.

    1. >At least you were mistaken for a bum instead of a girl.
      And it still happens to this day.

  3. I love this book! I made a post about it on my blog way back in 2007! and I see you commented on it. :)

    1. Ha! I'm surprised I didn't swipe some images from you, Erick! I remember making that comment now. The book clearly had an impact on a lot of people!

  4. Loved this book. Used to look at it in school. I remember being in horrified awe of some of the drawings and photographs. This was really what helped stoke the fire of my horror-movie-lovin' heart.

    1. Looking back, it was some of my earliest exposure to monster love as well, although I was already watching the classic Universal monster movies with my brothers.

  5. As I began reading this, I saw Alan Ormsby's name and my eyes lit. I'm glad you got around to mentioning that he starred in "Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things," a bloodier, gorier and dumber rip-off of "Night of the Living Dead." I saw "Children" at a wildly inappropriate young age in the late 1970s and it scarred me (in a good way, I think). The movie does have its artistic merits. Ormsby is great, in a campy way, in the lead role. The sound effects and design are also very good.

    I might have to track down a copy of this book, although it would probably not be appropriate for me to steal it from an elementary school.

    Coincidentally, I'm currently reading a good biography of Bela Lugosi, which was written by Robert Cremer and published in 1976. He is very worthy of a biopic beyond just his final sad years as portrayed in "Ed Wood." Dracula tied him down and limited his career in many ways, but he had a pretty great outlook on life.

    1. >Dracula tied him down and limited his career in many ways
      Which is funny since he only played Dracula twice in his career. In the original and in "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein". A testament to how great of a performance it was.


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