Halloween season means monster movies! Thank goodness we have Monsterville author, Sarah S. Reida, to help us pick the best scary guys from the big screen. Now, if you need us, we’ll be hiding under the bed and hoping we don’t find ourselves Down Below!
The title character of Monsterville: A Lissa Black Production, is a huge movie fan. That’s why she’s bummed when her family moves from exciting NYC to the sticks of Freeburg, Pennsylvania. How can Lissa break into the movie business if she’s trapped in the middle of nowhere?
If she finds a shape-shifting goblin, that’s how! Add the ready-made set of her parents’ creepy new woods, and Lissa has all the makings of her very own monster movie. Freeburg ain’t so boring after all.
To create her masterpiece, Lissa does some research – she watches monster movies! Now, just in time for Halloween, she’d like to share her top five monster picks with you. Sure, you probably recognize all of them, but did you know Lissa’s fun facts before reading this blog?
Number Five – Sully (Monsters, Inc.)
Voiced by John Goodman, an actor with the rare distinction of appearing in two successive Best Picture winners (The Artist, Argo), Sully is a towering, huggable-looking creature. Bill Murray was the top pick to voice this character in Pixar’s monster hit, but he had (has) no agent and the filmmakers were unable to reach him to give him the part.
Number Four – Maurice (Little Monsters)
Played by America’s Got Talent judge, Howie Mendel, Maurice befriends Brian (Fred Savage) after climbing out from underneath his bed in his new home in Chicago. Capitalizing on the enormous popularity of Fred Savage (who was then appearing in The Wonder Years), the film also features Daniel Stern, who provided the voice-over in that show, as well as Fred’s real-life little brother, Ben (of Boy Meets World).
Number Three – The Gremlins
Gremlins, as they came to be known in Steven Spielberg’s 1984 film, were loosely based on Roald Dahl’s (Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) very first children’s picture book, which was about mythical, mischievous creatures fond of sabotaging the British Royal Air Force’s aircraft. Howie Mandel (Howie! Again!) provided the voice for Gizmo (above).
Editor’s note: We hope Lissa learned the importance of following the rules from these little guys. Gizmo may look cute, but watch out if you feed these guys after midnight or get them wet!
Number Two – Pennywise the Clown (It)
Singlehandedly responsible for ruining clowns for children across multiple generations, Pennywise is quite possibly Stephen King’s scariest creation. Played by Tim Curry in the television mini-series, Pennywise tempts children with balloons and is known for the phrase, “they all float down here!” You may recognize Tim Curry from his lead role in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and as the hotel staffer intent on busting Kevin in Home Alone II.
Number One – Beetlejuice
Even though he refers to himself as “the ghost with the most,” Beetlejuice is more monster than ghost given his shenanigans. An early Tim Burton creation, Beetlejuice was played by Michael Keaton, who did such a great job that Burton insisted he be cast as the title character in Batman (across from the prolific Jack Nicholson as the Joker), which Burton was also directing. Years later, Michael Keaton would be robbed of the Best Actor Oscar for his incredible role in Birdman.
Not only does Lissa know movie trivia backwards and forwards, she knows monster movie rules. That comes in handy when Lissa’s little sister Haylie is kidnapped to the monster homeland of Down Below, and Lissa must use her movie knowledge (and a mysterious board game called Monsterville) as a vital tool to get her back.
Thirteen-year-old Lissa Black is miserable when her parents force her to move from New York City (the perfect home for an aspiring writer/director/actress) to Freeburg, Pennsylvania, nowhere capital of the world. There’s nothing to do there, except play her little sister Haylie’s favorite new game, Monsterville, and hang out with her new neighbor Adam.
But when a walk in the woods lands her face-to-face with a swamp monster hungry for brains and then a Sasquatch that moos, even Lissa can’t call her new home totally boring. With Adam’s help, she catches the culprit behind the drama: a shape-shifting goblin who’s fled from the monster world of Down Below.
And what do you do with a creature that can be literally anything? Make monster movies, of course! Lissa is convinced that Blue will be the secret to her big break.
But when Haylie goes missing on Halloween, Lissa, Adam, and the monster must venture Down Below to stage a rescue—and face the real Monsterville, which is anything but a game.
Monsterville is a fusion of The Boxtrolls, Jumanji, and Candyland, weaving together friendship, family, and monsters into a funny fantasy-horror brimming with heart from a great new middle grade voice.
“What a fun read! The perfect book for the boy scout who wants to be prepared in Monsterville, for the monster who can’t decide what to become, and (of course) for the director who might have to take on a starring role.” —Kelly Jones, author of Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer
“An absolute delight. Full of humor with a fresh voice, and just plain fun to read.” —Penny Warner, two-time award-winning author of The Code Busters Club series
“Chutes and Ladders with monsters—and an aspiring filmmaker determined to capture them all. Sarah Reida’s Monsterville is creepy good fun! —Caitlen Rubino-Bradway, Mark Twain Award finalist for Ordinary Magic
“This book is the best fun, overflowing with humor and fabulous in its overturning of many movie cliches. While adults are chuckling at the jokes, kids will love puzzling over the chain of clues that lead Monsterville’s lovable heroes through the world of Down Below.” —Claire Fayers, author of Voyage to Magic North
Sarah Schauerte Reida is a writer, lawyer, and ugly animal advocate. Growing up in the Midwest (Illinois, to be precise), she read everything she could get her hands on, as well as watched many, many movies during her parents’ “camping” trips involving electricity and s’mores in a microwave. A member of The Sweet Sixteens, Sarah’s debut middle grade novel, “Monstervile: A Lissa Black Production,” is her first novel.
A graduate of Saint Louis University (B.A). and Case Western Reserve University School of Law (J.D.), Sarah makes a living helping veteran business owners compete for federal contracts. She and her husband Scott live in the Atlanta area with their dog and four cats. By the time this biography reaches print, they will probably have acquired another animal.