Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972

Author Mark Voger’s new book, “Monster Mash,” traces the history of the Monster Craze in America back to its roots and explores the phenomenon that gave birth to our modern Halloween iconography!

Released this week by TwoMorrows Publishing (, “Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972” is a visually stunning, colorful look back at the roughly fifteen years span that monsters seemed to rule the world in American popular culture. Author Mark Voger’s childhood was clearly molded by the monster craze and he recounts in semi-chronological order and 189 pages, all the major elements that were combined in the pop culture laboratory that ultimately gave birth to the Monster Kid Generation.

Interviews conducted over a twenty year period with genre luminaries are spliced in between segments dedicated to TV programs, movies, magazines, toys and collectibles. It’s the stunning visual layout, however, with full page spreads featuring monster masks, model kits, board games and vividly bloody monster art that will instantly trigger nostalgia for older readers and probably melt the monster loving hearts of younger readers.

This is a coffee table book that will be right at home in the haunted chambers of Louisville Halloween followers.

The introduction was written by Zacherley, the Cool Ghoul himself, who became the first and ultimately the most famous Horror Host in history when he introduced “Shock Theater” to the world on Oct. 10, 1957. The Shock Theater package was a list of 52 films from the 1930’s and 1940’s licensed to local broadcast channels all across the nation, mostly consisting of Universal Studio’s classic monster pictures amid a number of B-movie mysteries and thrillers.

For the first time, “Dracula,” “Frankenstein,” “The Wolf Man” and all their sons, daughters and brides were available to watch, late at night, in the comfort of American homes and most kids growing up in the period between 1957 and the mid 1970’s got their first jolts of terror during one of these creepy classics.

The book introduces the Playboy Magazine of monster culture, “Famous Monsters of Filmland,” including interviews with Publisher, James Warren, and Editor, Forrest J Ackerman. It covers the monster hit song phenomenon and includes an interview with “Monster Mash” recording artist, Bobby “Boris” Pickett. It covers, in glorious full page detail, the unforgettable Aurora monster model kits and their evocative packaging art by James Bama.

The very beginnings of the home video business are also introduced in the Super 8 film versions of classic horror and science fiction films through Castle and Ken Films. Back at that time, these reels were the only way to own a copy of the movie you loved that you could watch whenever you wanted. That might seem like an alien concept to kids today, but back then it required quite a bit of work and patience to see films that you would see pictures of in monster magazines.

There’s a great section on Don Post rubber monster masks as well as Ben Cooper and Collegeville drugstore Halloween costumes, and large sections devoted to “The Addams Family,” “The Munsters” and “Dark Shadows.”

Car culture is also discussed in interviews with Rat Fink creator, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, and Batmobile and Munster’s Koach designer, George Barris. There’s much, much more: “Creepy,” “Eerie,” Frank Frazetta, Basil Gogos, Marvel monster comics, cartoons, “Planet of the Apes” and monster toys.

The only controversial chapter of the book, which has drawn some argument from the monster fan community, is Voger’s choice to define the end of the Monster Craze in 1972. He makes a strong argument by saying, “The bloom was off the rose.” Most agree that either 1976 or 1977, with the release of “Star Wars,” was the final nail in the monster culture coffin and the rise of the modern science fiction craze, but I’ve often considered “The Exorcist” (1973) as the dividing line between Classic and Modern Horror, so 1972 seems appropriate to me.

Our own Shock Theater program, “Fright Night,” hosted by the Fearmonger, ran on WDRB-41 from 1971 to 1975, so the great “Monster Mash” went on a little bit longer here in Louisville than in Voger’s assessment, but we love our monsters here in Louisville. In some ways, the monster craze never stopped here in the River City.

Long live the “Monster Mash.”

“Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze in America 1957-1972” is a hardback edition that retails for $39.99, but at the time of this article is available at for $33.96 and at for $28.48.

The Phantom of The Ville

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