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United Kingdom 1980
Directed by
Roy Ward Baker
94 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
David Michael Brown
2.5 stars

The Monster Club

Synopsis: Horror writer Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes (John Carradine) is out for a late night stroll when he is bitten by the vampire, Eramus (Vincent Price.) The bloodsucker is mortified to discover that he has sucked the blood of his favourite scribe and takes him to his favourite hostelry, The Monster Club, to recover. Whilst there, Eramus tells three chilling tales to give the writer some fresh ideas. We hear horrific tales of the Shadmock, Vampires and Humghouls then Eramus and his guest dance the night away at the club.

Director Roy Ward Baker was a veteran of the much-loved television show The Avengers and had made his name on Hammer classics such as The Vampire Lovers, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde and Scars of Dracula. He had also worked with producer Milton Subotsky on The Vault of Horror and Asylum so he was well used to working with the anthology format that Amicus Films used so regularly.

Amicus and Milton Subotsky made the anthology format their own, usually combining three or four separate vignettes within a wrap-around story. From Dr Terror's House of Horrors to From Beyond the Grave the films took hoary horror film clichés and genre stalwarts like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing and created a delightfully daft collection of gothic treats, The Monster Club often plays like a spoof of Amicus's halcyon days and tried to reinvent the genre for the 80s, alas it didn't quite achieve its goal.

The film stars many horror icons: Vincent Price exudes his customary charm although he does look foolish when he makes a move on the dance floor to the strains of "They're Playing Our Song." The legendary John Carradine just looks a bit confused and embarrassed by the whole thing. Donald Pleasence is fabulous in the humorous middle story but as a reunion of legendary horror stars, Pete Walker's House of the Long Shadows works much better. That film added Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee to the mix and treated its leads with more reverence.

The three stories are all quite effective. The first features the Shadmock, a hideous creature who can melt a person at fifty paces by merely whistling. The second is a humorous vampire story and the third tells of a horror film director who is trapped in a village of ghouls while scouting for locations. What really lets the show down is The Monster Club itself. The patrons look like they have been dressed at the local joke shop and the bands that play for the creature's enjoyment are truly awful. There is, however, a cinematic first when a stripper strips down to her skeleton for the clubbers' enjoyment but its not enough to elevate the party scenes above a joke. It's a shame to say, as the Amicus films of the '60s and '70s were fabulous, but The Monster Club just doesn't make the grade.




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