I love collecting books and other items of interest about Godzilla. Therefore, I looked forward to my latest purchase from eBay, GODZILLA, KING OF THE MOVIE MONSTERS: AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO JAPANESE MONSTER MOVIES by Robert Marrero, (published in 1996 by Fantasma Books.) When the book arrived in the mail a few weeks ago I couldn't wait to dive in. It's always fun to get another perspective on the Big Guy, and who knows? Perhaps a previously unknown tasty tidbit of information might surface.
I began reading on page 12, which actually should be "page 1," since all the copyright, title, index, and a couple of preceding picture pages are numbered. The author began with a review of 1954's Gojira and 1956's Godzilla, King of the Monsters, lumping them together. (Hmmmm, maybe that should have been a hint of what was to come.) Before I got to the end of the page... what's this? A reference to "Gojira, the green atomic-powered reptilian giant"? C'mon, every 8-year old G-fan knows Godzilla was not green! Maybe an editorial typo?
I kept reading. Next page. Here we meet paleontologist Dr. Yogami. Um, who? Surely he must mean Dr. Yamane, played by renowned actor Takashi Shimura. I'm thinking, gee, that editor sure did a sloppy job. Then on the next page I encounter Dr. Sarazowa. Doesn't look right. I do a quick check, and sure enough it should be Serizawa. Now I'm thinking maybe the editor isn't the only one who was sloppy. I grab my yellow felt tipped marker and start hunting for additional errors.
Didn't take long. On the next page of text we find Angurus--OK, I have seen that one spelled various ways--described as a "mutation of the Anglosaurus." (Might this be a British dinosaur? )
I'm not going to bore you with the rest of the multiple misspellings, punctuation errors, and just plain incorrect information in the rest of this 142-page excuse for a book. Some of the errors are so gross I was left wondering if the author had actually watched all the movies he was reviewing! The only redeeming features are the multiple (all black and white) pictures, including photos, movie posters, and some fan art repros.
It galls me to think Mr. Marrero probably made a pot of money off this travesty. The book is so bad that morbid curiosity prompted me to do a Google search on the author. I discovered he's written several other books on monster and horror film history. On Toho Kingdom, I stumbled across a review of another of his books, GIANT MOVIE MONSTERS. The reviewer is Nicholas Driscoll, and suffice it to say Mr. Driscoll and I agree totally on the level of Mr. Marrero's writing skills, not to mention the quality of the editorial staff at Fantasma Books. Mr. Driscoll refers to errors in that book as "...ubiquitous and so gapingly obvious..." and comments on the poor quality of its physical construction.
That reminds me to mention how several pages have come loose from the binding in my copy of GODZILLA, KING OF THE MOVIE MONSTERS, which is less than two months old and has NOT been read multiple times or poorly handled. (I do, however, admit I was tempted to throw it against the wall a couple of times .)
Scattered throughout GODZILLA, KING OF THE MOVIE MONSTERS are brief "supplemental notes" by another writer, Shane Dallmann. As near as I can tell, the additional information in Dallman's insets is accurate, and he may have done his own editing, since I found no obvious errors. It's pretty clear Mr. Dallmann has actually seen the movies and is a genuine fan, which makes me wonder how and why he would get mixed up in this publishing fiasco. Maybe he wanted to marry the author's sister or owed him money. Who knows?
Apparently most, if not all, Mr. Marrero's "historical works" are now (deservedly) out of print. However, copies of several of them are being offered on eBay and Amazon. Can't say I blame the sellers. I'd love to recoup some of what I spent on mine, except I wouldn't wish it on some unsuspecting G-fan.
Bottom line: don't buy this book. It's badly written, badly made, and just, well, bad.
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