AWESOME-tober-fest 2008!!! A Look Back at the Crestwood Monster books

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Welcome to AWESOME-tober-fest Week 5!!! I revealed yesterday that there will be an article a day starting yesterday, so here’s today’s installment.   FYI…I got sick yesterday afternoon.  So  I want you to know the Herculean effort it took to get this article out.  That’s the kind of sacrifice I do for you, my readers.

Today, I want to talk about the the keystone topic I’ve wanted to talk about all month. It’s a series of books I remember vividly from elementary school. I finally acquired copies of the first six books in the series late last year. It was late enough that I didn’t really get a chance to talk about them last Halloween. However, now I’ve had a year to look at them so let’s take a stroll down memory lane at the Crestwood House Monster Series.

Crestwood Monsters cover

I have a very vivid memory of checking these books out from the HW Gwin Elementary school library. The vibrant orange color of the cover and the cool monster subjects made them a popular choice amongst my friends. Each book focused on a monster or creature from a movie or series of movies. The first six books included Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolf Man, King Kong, Godzilla and Mad Scientists. Most were published in the late ’70s and early ’80s. As you can see, they are also the inspiration for my blog header this Halloween.

What was in the books?  Well, other than a treasure trove of pictures, the books took 3-5 movies based on the movie monster and pretty much described to you the story of the movies.  Let’s start with two of my favorite books.

Crestwood Wolf ManCrestwood Dracula

The Wolf Man and Dracula books were my favorites as these were also my favorite movie monsters. I must have checked out these books a hundred times.  Dracula uses the familiar visage of Bela Lugosi as its cover, but for some reason, The Wolf Man eschews a picture of the more famous Lon Chaney Jr version of the monster for that of Henry Hull in the lesser known Werewolf of London.  Anyway, the Wolf Man covers the titular Wolf Man movie with Lon Chaney, the Hull starring Werewolf of London as well as quick looks at I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Frankenstein vs Wolf Man, Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein and House of Frankenstein.  Lon Chaney starred as the Wolf Man in both those last two pictures.

The Dracula book obviously starts with Lugosi’s original movie then covers a variety of other films like Son of Dracula, Mark of the Vampire and Nosferatu.  It even goes into the Hammer films with Christopher Lee as Dracula as well as the vampire-like creatures from The Omega Man with Charlton Heston. There are tons of good pictures and it’s great to see all the different movies staring the famous Dracula.

Crestwood FrankensteinCrestwood King Kong

The Frankenstein book talks about the Universal pictures the most, but there is a very interesting section about Thomas Edison’s silent 1910 version of Marry Shelley’s Frankenstein. Edison’s version is considered the first Horror movie and was actually found by a film collector many years ago. The story of the film itself is pretty interesting, too. You can read about it here. There are also pictures of a few made for TV movies as well as the Munsters.

King Kong follows the original but also covers King Kong vs Godzilla as well as the Jeff Bridges/Jessica Lange 1977 remake.

Crestwood GodzillaCrestwood Mad Scientists

These last two of the first six are the least interesting to me. Godzilla covers the original movie, Gojira, as well as many of the sequels starring such famous foes as Mothra, Mecha-Godzilla and Rodan.

The cover of Mad Scientists features Boris Karloff in the film The Mask of Fu Manchu. The rest of the book covers many different versions of Jeckyll & Hyde. It finishes up by discussing several old zombie movies as well as a few Frankenstein movies.

These first six installments must have done well because there were several more series after this. I don’t have any of the other books, but I found a few on other sites.

Crestwood Monsters List

This is a later printing of the Frankenstein book from the site Branded in the 80s. It lists many more subjects that were released after the initial six.  I would love to see the Frankenstein vs Wolf Man book.

Here’s the book on the mummy from Neato Coolville’s Flickr site.

Crestwood Mummy

As you can see, The Mummy is actually a hardback book (so is the one from Branded in the 80s). All the ones I remember from elementary school were hardbacks, but I was unable to find any of them. All the ones I acquired are the paperback versions (which, if I’m not mistaken, were first).

Many years later, Crestwood would release colorized versions of the hardback books where they would eliminate the characteristic orange and black colors for a color scheme that can only be described as insanity incarnate.  Check them out here (from Plaid Stallions):
Color Crestwood Monster books

It looks like some sort of man-child with only 6 fingers and ADD colored those books. Yikes, they are HORRID!

Later incarnations of the series would also change color schemes, to a purple/red and be re-christened Crestwood Movie Monsters.  Here’s a pic of the Creature from the Black Lagoon book from the Movie Monsters series.

Crestwood Creature

I’ve also seen the Dracula’s Daughters book.

Well, that about covers it for the Crestwood Monsters series of books. It took me forever to actually find out what these were called. I was Googling different variations of “orange monster books” for like three months before I finally found out they were called Crestwood Monsters. Like I said, I love these books, it’s fascinating to read what is essentially the history of these monsters on film. Next time I go back to Birmingham I may make a trip to Gwin to see if I can find these at that library. It would be so awesome if they still had them.

So, despite being sick, I was able to finish this article. Hope you enjoyed it.

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22 Responses to “AWESOME-tober-fest 2008!!! A Look Back at the Crestwood Monster books”

  1. These books more than anything else made me a monster kid, I love them madly.

  2. I remember those from Gwin! Very popular around Halloween. Those books are giving me nostalgia! Remember the Haunted House book that told how to make your own Haunted House. Also who could forget the Three Investigators!

  3. Hope you feel better soon! I’ll probably be getting sick before too much longer if these weird weather changes keep up. First it’s hot then it cool, then it’s cold and there is only so much I can take before I start getting sick lol.

    Those are cool! I wish my library would have had something like those when I was a kid.

  4. Glad you posted about the Crestwood series, and I’m so glad to finally see more love spread about these books year after year. I have a copy of the Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman edition. It’s pretty much just a straight up cliff’s notes version of the film (without a lot of the background info that the rest of the series seems to have), but I still love it to death.

  5. I literally grew up with these books I have them all (all but two are non-library copies) and have a copy of the Creature from the Black Lagoon autographed by Ben Chapmand and Ricou Browning. I also have a promotional Crestwood House Book poster. I think there were two made (Dracula and the Mummy) and I have the Dracula version.
    Great article!!!

  6. I have literally been looking for these books for yearssss. I read them all in elementary school and they are what started my obsession with horror movies and all things strange. I LOVE YOU for posting this!!

    • That’s great, Kelly! I had been looking for these for at least a year before I even found out their name. Then it took another 6 months to find a set on eBay. It was a long search but it was worth it.

      Glad I could help someone else out.

  7. Thank you for this!! I too remember the “orange movie monster” books and have been wondering about them, and beginning to think they were a figment of my imagination!

  8. Can anyone help me? I am looking for two books I used to love as a kid. They were in our middle school library in North East, Pa back in the late 70s and early 90s and I read them over and over. They were hardcover books. One was about vampires and the other was about werewolves. They had, as I recall, color pictures of Christopher Lee and Lon Chaney Jr. on the covers, respectively I am pretty sure. They were FANTASTIC sources of old stories and legends from Europe and elsewhere that you just don’t hear anymore. The old vampire lore like being able to scatter grains of rice by your bed to keep safe from them. (At that time vampires were for some reason thought to have to count the grains if they saw them and so they would be stuck there til the sun rose at which point they would die.) The werewolf one was the first place I ever heard of the Beast of Gevauden. I think they were published by either Bantam or Doubleday but I can’t remember for sure. PLEASE HELP! I already have my copy of In the Wake of the Sea Serpents, so these books would really complete the collection. Well, thanks in advance for any help someone may be able to give…

    • I have eight of the orginal Monster series orange back library books by Crestwood House. They are all in very good used read conditon. If any one out there is interested in any of them 1. It came from outer space. 2. Godzilla 3. The invisible man 4. Dracula 5. The Phantom of the Opera 6. The Mumy 7. Fankenstein 8 The Wolf Man. Please email me at patandgreg@roadrunner.com. I can mail by media rate mail in USA only.

  9. late 70s and early 80s that is…

  10. Jaffo I am also looking for the same book you are,I found it once but it was far to expensive,and havent been able to find it again.
    I beleive the name of the book you are looking for is ‘Everything you ever wanted to know about monsters but were afraid to ask’

  11. monster fan Says:

    Crestwood didn’t release the “colorized versions”, or at least they didn’t release them as you see them in the photo. Those pictured are the result of a library re-binding them.

  12. I am selling a book from this series. It is called It came from outer space. I had the hole series but a flood in my basement took them away. So I guess I want to sell the last one. I loved them so much.

  13. […] the end. Check out his website here and Aesop Rock here. For more on the Crestwood Books, check out this article or for pictures, this Flickr group. LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", […]

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  18. I have several of the Crestwood House Monster Series books listed on Ebay right now. They are in beautiful, non-library condition. Believe it or not I don’t think they have even been read before. Just thought I’d let you monster lovers know.

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