Review by Cameron Hatheway.
There are hundreds of different movie trivia books out there, but not often do authors specifically focus on the horror/Sci-Fi/monster categories. Enter THE MONSTER BOOK OF MOVIE MONSTER TRIVIA by Philip Cerreta (Aventine Press). The self-described “only movie monster survival guide/quiz book of its kind” intrigued us at the office, and we thought it would be fun to bring the book along on the car ride to the Silver Scream Festival.
It may have been that mystery bag of candy we consumed at that sketchy gas station, but this quiz book ended up leaving a bad taste in our mouths. Let me first say that we did look forward to reading this when it first arrived. We love quizzing each other on a regular basis here at the office, especially when it comes to horror and all things monsters. But the way Cerreta tackles writing the questions — and answers — left us confused and sometimes frustrated. Even the specific movie choices and inconsistent number of questions for each movie left us a little perplexed, for he seems to haven chosen movies he owns in his DVD library and has studied relentlessly since childhood. Some movies have ten questions, others only have one, and for some of the movies only containing one question, it feels more like a throwaway — that Cerreta couldn’t possibly find anything else interesting about the movie.
The book is arranged into ten different categories, ranging from zombies to aliens. For the category on werewolves (“That Ain’t the Wind Howling”), our two resident werewolf experts Caroline and Holly were ready to sink their teeth into the questions. First up was the section on DOG SOLDIERS:
Q: What’s a nine-letter word for small forest in Japanese? The answer is “Kobayashi.” That, as if anyone needed a reminder, was also the name of the ship in the training exercise that opened STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN. The cadets in that film were placed in a no-win scenario to test their character. What’s the connection here, kids?
There was dead silence in the car, followed by “What?!” and asking for the question to be repeated again. A majority of Cerreta’s questions are presented like this one, where he’ll ramble, causing you to go back and look for something actually resembling a question. The way he writes the questions is off-putting, and often ambiguous. Completely stumped, we flipped to the back of the book to learn the answer.
A: They suspected a set-up when a transmitter was found inside the radio.
We were not thrilled, to say the least. We were also surprised that the werewolf section didn’t contain anything from AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, but then again, that was fresh in our minds since the reunion would be taking place at Silver Scream. And for the record, the name of the ship in the training exercise was the Kobayashi Maru.
We tried giving the book the benefit of the doubt and took questions from another section. We tried the monsters category (“The Bigger They Are”) and took a look at the PACIFIC RIM questions:
Q: If Darwin was alive today, he would have taken a particular interest in the Kaijus’ ability to adapt and evolve so quickly. The shit we learned about their excrement was first reported in the Philippines. We wouldn’t bring it up or put it out there, so to speak, if it wasn’t such a cause for concern.
If you can find the actual question in that statement, I tip my hat to you. We couldn’t find it, so again, defeated, we flipped to the back.
A: The acid factor of the creature’s blood and waste could (and did) contaminate an entire city.
We flipped around a bit more, but eventually became too annoyed to play any more.
There are actual straightforward questions throughout, but we didn’t have the energy to track them down. We had read enough at that point, and returned to counting cows in the fields. Cerreta had a great idea in creating a monster quiz book, but unfortunately it was poorly executed. I’m not sure why it’s labeled as a “survival guide,” because I definitely didn’t survive those questions.
Would you want to consult this book to help with your Quiz Night questions, or add to different categories on the QuizUp app? Probably not. One could find more enjoyable quiz questions in the ‘Trivia’ section of your favorite movies on IMDB.com. I’m not sure what the intended audience was for this book, but it’s definitely not for casual fans. Taking this book to Quiz Night with your friends will more than likely wind up like the Kobayashi Maru scenario: a no-win situation for everyone involved.