Book of Monsters, the follow up to the vastly underrated Lovecraftian horror film The Creature Below, sees writer Paul Butler and director Stewart Sparke take another stab at small-budget, grand-theme horror. This time, however, the duo abandoned the psychological and existential dread that was the driving force of their previous work for something a bit more fun, hilarious, and far more graphic. Drawing inspiration from early 90s Troma acquisitions, Book of Monsters fits right in with films like There’s Nothing Out There, Blood Hook, Demon Wind and even tried and true genre classics such as Evil Dead and Night of the Demons.
The film cold-opens with an eight-year-old girl being read a bedtime story from a dusty old book kept in a vault. What could go wrong from reading a Necronomicon looking tome? After the mother is savagely ripped apart from a spider-like boogeyman hiding under the bed, we jump ten years as our badass lead, Sophie (Lyndsey Craine), is turning 18 and celebrating by hosting an uncontrollably huge party. Taking the house party horror of 80s films and ramming an unending gauntlet of creatures, Book of Monsters quickly evolves into a bona fide monster mash.
The scares are big, the creatures are horrifying, and the film does a wonderful job of making the leading women of the film something far more than just standard fodder or survival girl tropes. Led by some tremendous performances, the film stars Lyndsey Craine, Anna Dawson (The Creature Below), and Michaela Longden (also The Creature Below), as well as a cameo from Hellraiser and Nightbreed’s Nicholas Vince.
While not a perfect film, its budget does appear from time to time, you’d be hard pressed to find another film as ambitious and creatively satisfying as Book of Monsters. The humor and violence never let up and the creatures in this film are immensely believable and terrifying. With plenty of virgin
The review also appears on The Clive Barker Podcast.