Saturday, 21 September 2013

More Interesting People

The Monster Club, Part Two (Or Is It Three?)

Story two is ‘The Vampires’. It’s played for laughs, which is never good in films like this, but the central idea is quite interesting in the way it places the supernatural into a banal, everyday setting. 

Basically, it’s about a family where the father happens to be a cape wearing, slick backed hair Transylvanian vampire. His wife and son are fully supportive of this, and live a fairly ordinary life, aside from the fact that Dad is under constant threat from a gang of bowler hatted bureaucrats (Anthony Valentine, Neil McCarthy and leader Donald Pleasence) who want to bang a stake into him. 

It’s a nice idea to combine suburbia with vampirism (Dad’s trips out for blood are treated as if he were commuting to work), but the relentlessly smug execution soon becomes very tiresome. If it’s funny, it’s funny, you don’t have to leave gaps for laughter or keep mugging to the camera. Yes, I mean you, Donald. 

Finally, we come to ‘The Ghouls’. Ostensibly the scariest of the stories, it features a secluded village of ghouls in crisis because, after hundreds of years, they have finally run out of corpses to eat. When a film director (Stuart Whitman, sucking in his gut a la Robert Mitchum) turns up scouting for locations, he quickly finds himself in very deep shit. The story is too busy and confusing to really grip you, although the mass of ravenous villagers pressing in does evoke some mild claustrophobia. In Italian hands, it would have been grisly and gory and oppressively unpleasant, in British hands it just looks like the queue for the lunch van and, no matter what else you try and do, having a crowd of ghouls with Nana from ‘The Royle Family’ in it is never going to be terrifying.

In the end analysis, for all its faults (B.A Robertson), ‘The Monster Club’ is the last of its brilliant kind and is worthy of respect if not adulation. It ends with the revelation that man is the most monstrous monster of all and two iconic figures dancing and making tits of themselves. And I like that in a film, I really do.

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