Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Monster Club was a film which I had always believed to be a late possibly final instalment in Amicus studios portmanteau series (there horror anthology series), however it wasnt it just feels like one, it in fact was made by a production comapny called Sword and Socery Productions and is one of only two films made by them.. Now I have talked about horror anthology films on several occasions because of some of them featuring either actors from Doctor Who or stories taken from EC comics or in one case both. This film features neither of these things but it does feature Vincent Price one of my favourite actors of all time, besides I love this style of film so much that is more than enough reason to dive in to another one.

The wrap around story to the film is about a horror writer called R.Chetwynd-Hayes played by John Carradine who happens to meet a Vampire named Erasmus played by the one and only Vincent Price .Erasmus  takes his fill of the authors blood but after recognizing him becomes all apologetic and reveals himself to be a fan of the man's work. He tells the writer that he feels he owes him something and so invites him to The Monster Club mentioning that it might be a good way for the author to find some new ideas for hie next book.

Arriving at the club we are met with what can best be described as sort of a horror version of the StarWars Cantina, there are all sorts of different monsters walking about while an 80's band play songs about Monsters, it is a touch cheesy admittedly but then something happens which I think is absolutely wonderful.Vincent Prices character starts to talk about Monsters but more than this he starts to talk about Monsters Cross breading, what would happen if one type of monster was to breed with another. It is like one of those childhood conversations you would have with your friends you know what would happen if Dracula sunk his fangs into the wolf-man etcetera but here we have horror Legend Vincent Price talking us through monster cross-breads and cross-breads of cross-breads its a really interesting idea which I wish more films would return to.

This is a brilliant lead in to the first story in this anthology, as the story is about one of these cross-breads. In this story we have a relatively  young couple George and Angela who answer an advertisement in a newspaper. The add is looking for someone to take on the role as a cataloguer of antiques in an old manor.Angela goes and meets the owner who seems somewhat strange. Angerla is scared at first but soon settles in to her job in fact she soon seems to become friendly with her soft spoken and thoughtful employer. He is shown to be scared of the world outside of his manor, but he has a very soft and gentle side shown in the way he feeds and befriends the birds who visit him. Angela keeps saying to her partner George that she can not steel from this man but he keeps pressuring her to do just that. Eventually the kind seeming man tells her he is a Shadmock,(a Vampire/werewolf hybrid) and that he would like her to marry him. I wont spoil how this tale plays out but I like it, I like it for the hybrid monster, but more than that I like it because you never really see him as a monster, he is portrayed as kind and sensitive while it is the humans in the tale scheming and thinking about stealing.

The second story is about a young boy, a young boy whose dad just so happens to be a Vampire who is stalking his human prey on the London underground while being chased by a squad of Vampire hunters called the B-squad  lead by a man called Pickering played by Donald Pleasance (Doctor Lumis from Halloween). The boy doesn't know that his father is a Vampire, he thinks that his dad works at night and that this is why he sleeps during the night. At school he is teased and bullied for being a pale and wimpy child and Pickering witnessing this uses the boy to lead him and his team right to his Vampire father.

The first story is kind of sad, the second story although having its sad side with the child being bullied tends to end up being a little silly, neither of them are scary in any way shape or form. Add to this the music in-between the stories and a brilliant vibrant performance by Vincent Price and although not scary the film is pretty darn wonderful but I have to say it is after this that things get even better.

The third story is about an American movie Director scouting the English countryside to try and find  the perfect location for his upcoming movie. He finds a place on a map which no one has considered and decides to take a look himself. What he finds is a primitive town one that seems to be not only covered in fog but feel like it is from the past. It turns out that the people there are all Ghouls apart from a young girl he befriends who is a Humghoul (a Human and ghoul hybrid) the story is about his effort to escape and take her with him. The Ghouls are interesting, the story is well told and it feels different, there is a bit where he finds the notes of a man who took a ghoul in and bathed it and tried to show it kindness and who is asking god in return why this kindness was repaid with more pain and suffering for the village. I wont spoil the end but this is by far my favourite story.

After this there is a bit more Vincent Price, in particular he gives a speak which I would love to repeat here but I feel you need to hear him say the words, to experience his delivery of it to truly see how great it is. Single handedly he sums up though why humans are far more terrifying than any type of monster that has ever been dreamed up. The in between segments with Price and Carradine are  full of very bad monster make-up and  music which is very much a product of its time. Some people would argue that its a shame to see these two great horror legends working with this kind of material but the truth is they make a lot out of what there is, In some ways I would have preferred to see Price take centre stage in a great story within the anthology but here in this part he shows that he can give interesting speeches and explanations which make you forget about any low budget effects and what is more he seems to get in to the spirit of it all and really enjoys himself.

I would give the film an 8 out of 10, its a nice silly bit of fun which has a deeper message held inside it, yes it is cheesy at points and silly but it is also a lot of fun has some great performances in it and some brilliant ideas, I wish films like this were still around, I wish horror anthologies were still regularly made and that companies like Amicus were still around or that the company who made this had at least had a few more bashes at it.

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