Beautiful Monsters
The Unofficial and Unauthorised guide to the Alien and Predator Films

Author: David McIntee
Telos Publishing
RRP 9.99, US $17.95, Cdn $22.95

ISBN 1 903889 94 4
Available 28 February 2005

Beautiful Monsters is an unauthorised "everything you wanted to know about the Alien and Predator films but were afraid to ask." The first thing that attracts you to this book is the very professional-looking cover. There's a graphic image which vaguely suggests Giger, but plainly steers clear from using any of the movie characters or situations. The title uses lettering in the same vein. Inside, the paper quality is high, and each page is topped and tailed...

Each chapter follows a similar format, with Part One covering the Alien films, Part Two dealing with the Predator movies and Alien Vs. Predator, and Part Three exploring all these concepts in other media such as books and comics, all in great detail. There are bios of the writers and directors, full film credits, synopses, cast and crew, continuity errors, background, design, effects, music, reviews... The information is all there, stated formally so that you easily get bogged down in specifics and feel as though you're being lectured to. And that's where the problem lies...

This is a work of great research and dedication, but it comes across as being cold. The fact that it is unofficial means there are no photos or sketches to decorate what is essentially a text-heavy book. It's not that most people will just want to look at pictures, it's more a case of needing to be near-fanatical about the films to appreciate all this hard work without becoming bored.

The lack of new interviews means there's virtually no anecdotal material, which is required to make the casual reader sit up and take interest. This is a mistake often made in autobiographies too, where the writer states I did this... and he said that. Now, how dull is that compared to, for example: "We were waiting to film a scene, when a section of the set collapsed, knocking over an Alien egg so that a face-hugger toppled out into my lap. I almost crapped myself. Joe, next to me, stood up so quickly to get out of harm's way that he stepped on the thing, rendering it unusable. I took it home and put it on my wife's face when she fell asleep." This never happened to the best of my knowledge, but it's a comical scene you can easily imagine.

The most interesting and readable section of the book covers Dan O'Bannon's considerable contribution to the franchise, but origins are often more interesting than what comes afterward, and being a considerable fan of John Carpenter, who O'Bannon worked with on Dark Star, also helps.

For die-hard enthusiasts only (and I don't mean Bruce Willis ones!).

Ty Power

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