‘The Monster Club’ was the last in Amicus’ superlative series of horror portmanteau films, neatly putting a full stop to their most productive decade with its release in 1980. I’ll start by saying that I don’t like it as much as their other films in the same line but, even so, I like it well enough. It’s main issue for me is that the stories are simply not strong enough – nor are they aren’t particularly well-executed. There’s also not enough of them. Oh, and the music, by The Pretty Things and B.A Robertson among others, is fucking awful. On the plus side, Vincent Price is in it, which almost makes up for B.A Robertson but not quite. Actually, it in no way makes up for B.A Robertson.
The stories are all from the Welsh writer R. Chetwynd-Hayes, a horror author I’m not overly familiar with but who seems to be well regarded by people who are familiar with him. The linking sequences, in which the writer himself (played by John Carradine, his poor hands gnarled by arthritis) is introduced to the delights of a disco for supernatural beings by vampire Vincent Price has a fair few amusing moments - and some cold sweat ones. If you have ever wanted to see two elderly horror stalwarts awkwardly grooving to cod-reggae, before copping off with a couple of fat birds, however, then this is the film for you.
Story one is ‘The Shadmock’. According to Chetwynd-Hayes, a Shadmock is a fairly low grade monster, a bit of a mongrel. It’s one defining feature is that it can emit a piercing whistle in times of stress, and the whistle is powerful enough to kill.
Our Shadmock is a bit of a nerdy fellow who lives in a big house with nothing but loads of money to keep him company. When a ‘normal’ young woman comes into his life he dares to dream that they could marry and that his solitude could be over. She’s just after the cash, of course, so when he finds her robbing the safe on their wedding night he whistles at her and melts her face.
Atmospheric in parts, especially the ballroom dancing and plastic masks of the wedding reception, this story is probably the best of the three, although it delivers little in the way of real chills. The main issue for me is that I kept thinking that most of the Shadmock’s problems were of his own making: he has plenty of readies, a great big house, so why not get himself a decent haircut and a sun bed? Put a Hawaiian shirt on, for fuck’s sake, buy a helicopter, get a big telly and a little dog. And open a window, let some fresh air in. Then, when you’ve done all that, go out and get a girlfriend – and aim up, so get a vampire or something, or at least a Vamgoo (a vampire-ghoul cross). That's what I did, anyway.
PART TWO TOMORROW!