BOOK REVIEW: Mark C. Glassy's Movie Monsters in Scale
By Charles Tatum
Posted 10/24/13 07:56:17
Mark C. Glassy is a scientist who considers himself cancer's enemy, admirably fighting the disease through research and development of scalpel-free treatments. But on the weekends, during the early morning hours, Glassy creates monsters and aliens with his own two hands- and then displays them depending on how much shelf space he has available.
Glassy is a rabid science fiction film fan, and his love of the genre has transformed itself into model building. He started as a youngster, gave it up for a few years while in school and having a family, but took it up again with such earnestness that he now has a website and this book. He was not formally trained in art, and this interesting book is not a how-to for modelers. Glassy shows off some figures of his collection, showing his appreciation of the cinematic arts through modeling arts.
The author does cover technique, telling the reader what has worked for him over the years. While my interest wandered, waiting for the good stuff, I kept noting how much Glassy loves this hobby of his. The pictures of his models begin, and he goes in chronological order, based on a film's release. The black and white photos of silent-era monsters like 1910's Frankenstein, Nosferatu, and Lon Chaney, Sr.'s Phantom and Quasimodo, are simply stunning. Glassy gives a synopsis of the film, credits the model's sculptor when he is able to, and talks briefly about the problems and solutions involved in constructing a specific model.
Glassy spends more time on the better known films of the talkie era, like "Bride of Frankenstein" and "The Wolf Man," and even somehow has kits from the 1950's nuclear fright films consisting of giant insects, and aliens landing in Washington, DC. There are two color sections in the middle of the book, and I quickly wished the entire book was in color, since the models are so impressive.
The models begin to thin out toward the end, after covering the 1960's (the 1970's are represented by just two films), I think because from the 1970's on, there hasn't been enough interest in models of the harder science fiction and fantasy films. Hammer Studios is covered nicely, and I was most impressed with skeletal work from both "Jason and the Argonauts" and "Godzilla." Glassy mentions he is done with bones and skeletons, considering the amount of time and intensity involved!
The main drawback to the book is a functional one. Often, Glassy would be going into detailed explanations of how a model came together, and the reader must flip back or forth in the book to see the item in question. Also, aside from the two sections of color photographs, the majority of the pictures are black and white, negating Glassy's descriptions of getting a subject's coloring just right.
I built many plastic models back in elementary school, mostly vehicles and aircraft from World War II, before finding other interests. I confess that I do not have the patience to build one of those simple kits today, much less go into the kind of detail Glassy must use to bring his kits to life. His collection is a sight to behold, and his enthusiasm is infectious. You may not ever build one of these figures, but this very good book left me yearning to watch some old horror and sci-fi flicks. (* * * *) out of five stars.