The Monster Club (1981) | Ghouls, vampires, shadmocks and Vincent Price run amok in HD

The Monster Club Blu-rayDid 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…

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 in The Monster Club

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 Monster Club novelThe 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 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.


About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on May 27, 2014, in British Film, Horror, Might See, Might-See, The Vincent Price Collection and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Roderick Singleton

    I love all of my uncle Vincent’s movies, even The Monster Club is well worth having in my collection and it should be in yours also.
    Great fun

  2. Richard Davies

    I just adore the film Monster Club film. My favourite story is, The Ghoul, for obvious reasons soon to be made apparent. Being a collector of horror memorabilia myself have been in regular contact with artist John Bolton regarding obtaining his art. As you are aware he did the classic art & animation sequence in the 1981 film.

    I within the last year or so have purchased eight of his Hammer Hall of Horror Monster Club pages done for the magazine, plus all fourteen of his Monster Genealogy Chart preliminary art for the 1981 film. All have subsequently been signed by the great man thanks to his lovely wife & business manager Liliana Bolton.

    Other collectables I have is John Bolton’s original Monster Club film script given to him my the studio. And his publisher multi-signed copy of the Gaslight Ghosts and Ghouls in a Monster Club tray-case ltd ed to 26 copies in the world. Gifted to me by by John & Liliana. Got two nice original posters too. The British Quad poster and the Australian Daybill. Not to forgetting the recent Dez Skinn reprint of the 1980 Cannes Film Festival promo ltd to 100 worldwide and of course I own the original one printed in 1980 to promote the film.

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