The Monster Club

The Monster Club. Sword and Sorcery Productions 1981.

Before watching the movie:

This is three horror stories as framed by a vampire and the actual author of those stories going to a dance club. The packaged stories could be anything, but that frame sounds bonkers, and they seem to be positioning the rest of the movie as a bit of a spoof too.

It looks like a pretty minor cult classic that didn’t get much outside of the UK, but it features some pretty big names in monster movies, so I’m interested in seeing how this goes.

After watching the movie:

Horror author R. Chetwynd-Hayes meets a slurring man on the street asking for help. The man hasn’t fed in weeks, but can’t keep food down. Chetwynd-Hayes offers whatever help is necessary, and the man attacks his neck. When the author wakes up, the other man introduces himself as Eramus, a vampire and lover of horror stories, and offers to allow him entrance into the club all the monsters go to, so that he might get material for new books. Chetwynd-Hayes hears stories of a Shadmock, a monstrous hybrid with a cursed whistle that melts whomever it attacks, that falls in love with a human; a young boy whose father is a Vampire, and a film director who gets trapped in a small village by a nest of Ghouls.

The stories being adapted are much more serious than the framing device. The Vampire story takes a sudden turn at the end which feels more in line with the tone the filmmakers wanted than what the source material probably was. The unevenness in tone is furthered by stopping everything to have a musical number after every song that has nothing to do with anything.

Aside from Eramus rattling off all the different names and abilities of monster hybrids, the frame was more interesting than the stories, though it seems a mistake to make the human expository character a version of the author of the books who presumably would already know a lot more about this kind of thing if he’s already achieved fame for writing monster stories. The performances of Price and Carradine are what sell the movie.

The production value, however, seems to have gone to the shorts rather than the frame. The makeup and locations are very well done in those, but the crowd of monsters in the club is mostly made of the world’s most obvious off-the-rack rubber masks. The money for the club sequences may have gone into the music, which includes three songs and incidental club music by UB40, and one song uses an animated shot.

The more invested the movie was in making up horror hybrids, the less I cared. The first story is a demonic Beauty and the Beast story about a creature I’ve never heard of, and the last story features a human/ghoul hybrid, but the Humgoo is much less important than the Shadmock. The second and third stories were pretty good stories, but I really just wanted to get back to Price and Carradine lounging around a club talking about monsters, and it seems that most people who’ve seen this movie felt the same.

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