Crestwood Monster Series


By Shawn Robare

So lately I’ve been wondering about how my love for all things monsters and horror began. I know there were a lot of contributing factors such as Garbage Pail Kids stickers, which featured some disturbing and gross horror related artwork, and Halloween in general, but I know that there has to be more to it than that. There were some movies, Monster Squad, Gremlins, and Poltergeist in particular, that definitely added fuel to the monster fire as well as the original Universal Monster movies that I know my parents sat me down to watch at some point.

Being the 80’s of course, it was hard to not be aware of stuff like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but I didn’t see those flicks until almost the end of the decade. Let’s see, there was some TV that influenced me, namely Tales From the Darkside, Monsters, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone and the occasional scary episode of Amazing Stories. Michael Jackson’s Thriller video didn’t hurt either staying on regular rotation on both MTV and my cassette player. I suppose the monster theme of the He-Man rogues gallery was an influence as well.

Of course there were also the books that I’ve talked about on the blog before, Samantha Slade, Bunnicula, and a few others that had monster theme-ing that I can’t remember the titles to.

Well I recently stumbled upon a series of books that I used to check out of my elementary school library on almost a daily basis, the Crestwood House Monster Series. I saw some pictures of the books on Neato Coolville’s Flickr account, and immediately flashed back on the third grade and our school library. We only had a few of the books in the series in our library, but I read and reread them a million times. Here’s a list of the books in the series:

I’m pretty sure we had Dracula, Godzilla, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman. Well after seeing these books for the first time in 20 years, I had to have one and I whisked over to Ebay with hopes that there was a bristling business in old out of print horror related school library edition books. Guess what? There was, and I picked up a couple, one that I definitely remember reading, Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, and one that I just want for myself, Frankenstein. The Franky Meets the Wolfman arrive last week in horrible condition (there was no picture on the auction, but the price was right) but I still love it to pieces. Here’s a scan of the cover:

These books were a huge push in the horror direction for me because of the hours I spent pouring over the large crisp black and white photos and just the idea that there were so many other books in the series that I might one day stumble upon. I received the Frankenstein book in the mail yesterday and I was relieved that this one was in much better condition, yet after flipping through it I was sort of bummed, not because the content was bad, but exactly the opposite. This is the best kids book on Frankenstein that I’ve ever seen. Between its two worn covers lie a plethora of information on many of the various incarnations of Franky in the past 70 years, and if I had read it when I was a kid I might not have waited so long to watch the Hammer version, Curse of Frankenstein, until so late as there were a few really good photos of the Christopher Lee Monster.

Anyway, I am so glad that I stumbled upon these and can’t thank Neato Coolville enough for posting them on his Flickr account for the world to rediscover. Now if I could only find cover scans or copies of the series of hardbound school library editions of the Marvel Super Heros orgin books. There were four that I remember, the Avengers, Spiderman, the Hulk, and the Fantastic Four. Each book had the first two or three issues of the comic and a little introduction about the series. I guess that’ll just have to wait until another day…

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  • Justin

    Ah, memories. Went searching for those old orange monster volumes in the old Hillsdale Library’s J section and found my way here. Dracula, King Kong, Wolf Man, Godzilla, The Mummy and The Invisible Man were in the nearby library’s collection for sure. My memory’s probably playing a trick on me, wishfully thinking a handful of others were included. Not sure The Deadly Mantis deserves an entire volume to itself… Good stuff blogged here! Thanks for the comforting nostalgia and greater thanks for, through the Crestwood connection, allowing me to find a handful of other horror volumes I wanna snap up! :)

  • Ross Radiation

    Great! These books were my introduction to monster movies. I am gonna go hit ebay now and see if I can find any. I’d love to own these

  • Justin

    I remember drawing a circle on the back of one of those books. That one that’s laying on the front where we can see the back didn’t happen to come from Burnet, TX, did it? I know it’s a long shot, but, man, it looks familiar.

  • Dwyane

    I came across the whole series for sale for 50 cents each a few months ago at a book sell. I had never seen it before however. I’m glad I bought it. Maybe my currently 1 year old son will love them one day.

  • max

    Awesome i collect them and i need it came from other space, and frankenstein meets wolf man.

  • Shawn Robare

    Thanks man, yours kicks butt too.

  • HooveR

    Those Marvel ones sound cool; I don’t remember those. If you come across pics of what they looked like, pass ‘em on! (or POST ‘em on)

  • Jam

    dude!! This is awesome. every few years I get online and scower the web for something from my 80s childhood. I actually had a dream a couple weeks aog that I went on a quest to find those books. so when I woke up- I knew I had to find them.. with only a faint memory of “”those cool orange movie monster book, I used to check out form my elementary school library, everyday”" I began my search… which eventually led me to your sight.. which led me to the proper name of the publishing house.. ^.^ woot. I just ordered like 5 of the books from amazon. thanks!

  • Shawn Robare

    Glad I could help Jam.

  • EF Matt

    ditto what JAM said. i also used to check these books out every week from my elementary school and was curious to see if i could find more info on them. i searched “”orange movie monster book”" which led me directly here. thanks!

  • Mark Napoleoni

    Dood Holy shit I was just remembering these books a few moments ago, back in the early to mid 80s I was mad into godzilla and all the monsters and I remembered one day stumbling across the king kong book and I thought it was the greatest thing ever. I made my parents order me the king kong book and the godzilla book. I was obsessed with this shit. I sat and thought hard a few moments ago about the name of the comapny and someway somehow I remembered Crestwood House And I stumbled onto this site Mad awesome, Im going to search ebay for them as well good shit -Mark

  • Aaron

    I was looking over your blog and remembering all the great stuff I had as a kid. I too had the Dukes of Hazard big wheel. But anyway I have to thanks you for this entry in particular. I have been trying to gets a hold of these books for years. But for the life of me I couldn’t remember the publisher. All I could remember was their logo was a forest. I used to check these out almost on a daily basis as well. My school had several Dracula, Frakenstein, Wolfman, Frankenstein meets Wolfman, The Creature, King Kong and Godzilla. They had more but I can’t rrecall which ones.

  • Scott

    I’ve been wanting to get my hands on these books. I read these books as a kid from my school library. This was before I knew what a VCR was, and I thought the only way I’d see these movies was by taking a time machine back to the 30s and 40s! What did you search under to find these on ebay? I’d like to get a couple.

  • Tim

    You’ve no idea how jealous I am! I’ve been looking for those Crestwood House Monster Series books for years and can’t find ‘em anywhere! Those things spark nostalgia like nothing else. I was incredibly bummed to discover the library in my hometown got rid of them years ago. Great to see somebody else remembers and loves them as much as I do. Excellent blog, sir.