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The Secret Life of Rubber-Suit Monsters
Robin Pen
Eidolon, 161 pages

The Secret Life of Rubber-Suit Monsters
The Secret Life of Rubber-Suit Monsters
R o b i n P e n
Robin Pen
Robin Pen says:
Robin resides in Perth, Western Australia (that place John Glenn keeps on about) where, for a living, he recommends both good and bad movies to people. Between the publication of the occasional article on cinemantics and such, he, like many a writer, has too many big projects on the go. They being both of a fictional & non-fictional nature, and all too often sort of in between.

ISFDB Bibliography
Eidolon Press

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

Everybody's a critic! Okay, okay.  Not everyone is a film critic, but try to avoid getting their opinions about every film in existence...

So, let's make the distinction that Robin Pen is a film critic, and a pretty critical one at that. You're going to applaud some of the things he says. You're going to want to heckle some of his judgments. He is, after all, a critic; they're paid to have opinions. Informed opinions. A lot of the time, though, you're going to find yourself laughing and reading the best parts aloud to anyone who will listen.

The Secret Life of Rubber-Suit Monsters is not a collection of breathless, adolescent rantings or ravings. (And, if you've ever spent any time in a ConSuite and been forced to listen to impassioned defenses of Jurassic Park, you know the tone of voice I mean.)
Pen knows his films and he knows his history. In a field where it might seem impossible to some to discuss the offerings seriously, Pen not only does it, but does it well and still maintains a sense of humour.

It's an odd collection, a series of essays covering the period from 1990-1995. It encompasses the Godhead of Godzilla (see the similarities in the spelling?), the supremacy of Anime, and the sin of over-budget and under-quality. And a large part of it is a sigh of disappointment in the American film industry.

Inside joke: Try to spot the subtle "dig" at Disney Studios.

A quick rundown of Pen's likes and dislikes would tell you absolutely nothing about the book. The Secret Life of Rubber-Suit Monsters is as much his style and fantastical way of viewing the world as it is "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" on particular films. You can no more separate the childhood amazement of little Robby and the cynical/forgiving words of the critic Robin than you can count on an unequivocal pronouncement on any given movie discussed. One Robin's distaste is an older Robin's benign indulgence.

If you only want to know the yes/no/never of Robin Pen's critique, there is an invaluable list for your next weekend movie marathon. The list will tell you what you want to know, if that's all you want to know. And if it is, don't crease the binding for the person who actually wants to buy it and learn something.

The Secret Life of Rubber-Suit Monsters reads like a disjointed journal of five years of life before a flicking screen. It is a trip through the tangible world of science fiction films and the stream-of-consciousness "skull movies" that Robin takes out for us to view. But, always, it is a peephole into the mind of a unique and entrancing man. Whether you agree with him or not.

Copyright © 1998 Lisa DuMond

Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. She co-authored the 45th anniversary issue cover of MAD Magazine. Previews of her latest, as yet unpublished, novel are available at Hades Online.

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