The Monster Club (1980)

Rating:

UK. 1980.

Crew

Director – Roy Ward Baker, Screenplay – Edward & Valerie Abraham, Based on the Novel by Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes, Producer – Milton Subotsky, Photography – Peter Jessop, Music – (Shadmock Story) Douglas Gamley, Played by John Williams, (Vampire Story) – John Georgiadis, (Humegoo Story) – Allan Hawkshaw, Music Coordinator – Graham Walker, Songs Performed by Night, Pretty Things, B.A. Robertson & The Viewers, Background Music – Expressos & UB40, Animation – Reg Lodge, Makeup Effects – Roy Ashton & Ernest Glasser, Monster Masks – Vic Door, Production Design – Tony Curtis. Production Company – Chips Productions/Sword and Sorcery Productions

Cast

The Monster Club:- John Carradine (Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes), Vincent Price (Eramus), Anthony Steel (Lintom Butosky), Roger Sloman (Club Secretary). Shadmock Story:- Barbara Kellerman (Angela Jones), James Laurenson (Raven), Simon Ward (George). Vampire Story:- Warren Saire (Young Lintom Butosky), Donald Pleasence (Pickering), Richard Johnson (Manfred Butosky), Britt Ekland (Mrs Butosky). Humegoo Story:- Stuart Whitman (Sam), Lesley Dunlop (Luna), Patrick Magee (Innkeeper)


Plot

Horror author Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes meets the vampire Erasmus in the street and is invited to The Monster Club where monsters socialize. There various monsters tell him their stories. Shadmock Story:- Raven is a Shadmock, a result of the interbreeding of a vampire and werewolf, and has become a recluse because of his hideousness. He hires Angela Jones to catalogue his antiques. The two fall in love and she agrees to marry him. However, when Raven finds that Angela has only professed love in order to rob him, he exacts a horrible revenge. Vampire Story:- Vampire filmmaker Lintom Butosky tells his story. As a young boy, he was fascinated by his father’s mysterious profession. Prodded by the priest Pickering that headed V-squad, Scotland Yard’s special vampire-hunter unit, he made the discovery that his father was a vampire. Humegoo Story:- A horror film director finds the perfect village for a film location. He is given a welcome by the ghoul villagers who call a feast – which turns out to be him.


Together with partner Max J. Rosenberg, Milton Subotsky founded Amicus Productions in the early 1960s and they became the most successful of the companies exploiting the Anglo-horror cycle created by Hammer. Amicus produced a number of horror anthologies during the 1960s and 70s including Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (1964), Torture Garden (1967), The House That Dripped Blood (1970), Asylum (1972), Tales from the Crypt (1972), The Vault of Horror (1973) and From Beyond the Grave (1974). Indeed, Subotsky and Rosenberg defined the horror anthology as Amicus’s trademark.

After the break-up of Amicus in 1978, Milton Subotsky went his own way and formed Sword and Sorcery Productions. There he attempted to mount a number of interesting projects – Thongor in the Valley of the Demons, a sword and sorcery film from Lin Carter’s sub-Conan novels that would have starred Darth Vader himself Dave Prowse; and several other productions that ended up being produced by other people – the tv adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles (1980); the remake of Cat People (1982); while Subotsky also purchased the rights to a host of Stephen King short stories that were eventually brought by Dino De Laurentiis to emerge as Cat’s Eye (1985) and Maximum Overdrive (1986) with Subotsky receiving nominal producer’s credit. Other than the psycho-thriller Dominique (1978), The Monster Club was the only of these projects that emerged directly under Subotsky’s hand.

The Monster Club was an attempt to return to Amicus’s bread and butter – the horror anthology. Subotsky brought back Anglo-horror regular Roy Ward Baker, who had directed Asylum for Amicus, and united three horror stars – John Carradine, Vincent Price and Donald Pleasence. The film was adapted from The Monster Club (1976), a short story collection by minor British horror writer Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes, whose stories had earlier provided the basis for Amicus’s From Beyond the Grave. While the other Amicus anthologies played themselves seriously, the tone in The Monster Club is jokey and in-referential – there is, for example, a vampire filmmaker named Lintom Butosky (an anagram for Milton Subotsky). Subotsky had intended The Monster Club as a horror anthology that could be seen by children. Alas for Subotsky, The Monster Club was a flop that sounded the death knell for the Amicus horror anthology and fairly much the entire Anglo-horror cycle that had ridden high throughout the 1960s and most of the 1970s.

The Monster Club is fairly sad. Setting a linking story around a club where extras in badly fitting monster masks dance shows the level the film is aiming at. Several rock groups that were never heard of again (with the exception of a then-unknown UB40) sing forgettable songs – when will rock groups learn that singing songs about biting their girlfriend’s neck while snarling is no more horror than dressing people in monster masks is? There is one cool moment with a stripper who not only strips off her clothes but her skin as well in animated silhouette. At the end, Vincent Price delivers a feeble lecture that humanity is the greatest monster before getting down and boogieing with a 300-pound monster.

The first segment has some mildly lyrical location shoots but is spoiled by another unconvincing monster and a predictable ending. The second segment is failed burlesque but is at least lifted by a jaunty, energetic score. The third segment, which is reminiscent of Amicus’s first film City of the Dead/Horror Hotel (1959), is probably the best, with Roy Ward Baker effectively conjuring up an horrific atmosphere despite a distracting electronic score. At least John Carradine, Vincent Price and Donald Pleasence rise to the occasion and deliver expectedly well-polished performances.

Roy Ward Baker became one of the prominent directors to rise in the latter decade of the Anglo-horror industry. Elsewhere, Baker made Quatermass and the Pit/Five Million Years to Earth (1967), Moon Zero Two (1969), The Vampire Lovers (1970), Scars of Dracula (1971), Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971) and Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) at Hammer; Asylum (1972), … And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973) and The Vault of Horror (1973) at Amicus.


Full film available online here:-


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