The Monster Club (1981) | Ghouls, vampires, shadmocks and Vincent Price run amok in HD
Did you know that on May 27 1981 the horror anthology The Monster Club had a quiet opening in the US [*], the same day that the film’s star Vincent Price celebrated his 70th birthday. With the US Blu-ray now out, here’s a retrospective look at one my guilty pleasures…
WELCOME TO THE MONSTER CLUB
This attempt by Milton Subotsky at resuscitating the horror anthology formula that he started back in 1965 with Dr Terrors House of Horrors, but in a semi-comic vein, proved a disappointment on its release and was the final film from his Amicus outfit. But the film has since attracted a cult following.
The first story deals with a shadmock, the professor of a lethal whistle (James Laurenson), and the woman (Barbara Kellerman) who tries to steal from him. The second story is a comical autobiographical film by producer Lintom Bustosky (Anthony Steel) involving his father vampire (Richard Johnson) and the cop (Donald Pleasence) on whom he turns the tables. The final episode, which is the most effective of the three, concerns a film producer (Stuart Whitman) whose ideal horror movie location proves to be populated by real ghouls.
Vincent Price appears in the framing device as a vampire who inducts John Carradine’s horror writer Chetwynd-Hayes into a club for monsters, and it’s these scenes where the film is at its weakest – mainly due to the cheap make-up effects used for the club’s denizens and an embarrassing final dance scene (check out my monster mash-up on YouTube). But there are some stand-out moments, namely Kellerman’s grisly demise, the fog-shrouded town that Whitman tries to escape from, and Price’s big speech in which he declares that man is the biggest monster of them all.
The stories are all based on the work of Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes and is directed by Hammer/Amicus veteran Roy Ward Baker. The music, which ranges from the dub sounds of UB40 and the rock of The Pretty Things (who are still rockin today), was also released on record – now quite collectable, fetching up to US$400 on e-Bay. The film also appeared in comic form in Issue 25 of the legendary UK Hammer horror fanzine Halls of Horror, which was drawn by John Bolton and David Lloyd. [*] The film played it only selected cinemas in the US, having failed to find a distributor, but it did open in cinemas in the UK on 18 April 1981.
THE US BLU-RAY RELEASE
The Scorpion Releasing Blu-ray features a HD transfer of the film, plus a 62-minute interview with Vincent Price conducted in 1987 by film historian David Del Valle, a 40-minute audio interview between Del Valle and Price, on camera interview with Del Valle, Trailer, and isolated ME track.
The Monster Club is presented here in a locked Region A anamorphic widescreen presentation which preserves the film’s original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Colors are nicely saturated, with minimal print damage. Hopefully it won’t be long until there’s a UK release.
Posted on May 27, 2014, in British Film, Horror, Might See, Might-See, The Vincent Price Collection and tagged 1980s horror anthology, Amicus, Amicus portmanteau films, British Film, David Del Valle, Halls of Horror, Hammer-Amicus-Tigon, Horror, John Carradine, Might See, Milton Subotsky, Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes, Roy Ward Baker, The Monster Club, The Vincent Price Collection. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.