The Monster Club (1981)
By: Paul Ryan on June 13, 2011  | 
Beyond Entertainment | Region 4, PAL | 4:3 | English DD 2.0 | 94 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Starring: Vincent Price, John Carradine, Donald Pleasance, James Laurenson, Britt Ekland, Richard Johnson
Screenplay: Edward Abraham, Valerie Abraham
Country: UK
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Famed horror writer R. Chetwynd Hayes (John Carradine) is on his way home when he is set upon by urbane, elderly vampire Erasmus (Vincent Price). Contrary to appearances, Erasmus is actually a great admirer of Hayes' writing – regarding it a privilege to have tasted his blood, natch – and has not wounded him deeply enough to turn him. Striking up an immediate rapport, Erasmus invites Hayes to an exclusive nightclub populated with assorted ghouls and beasties (or at least cosplayers in dodgy masks). Here, Erasmus tells Hayes three tales involving different kinds of monsters.

The first story tells the sad tale of Raven (James Laurenson), a gentle, aristocratic creature known as a Shadmock. Able – though unwilling – to cause people to immolate with a simple whistle, he lives a lonely life in a vast mansion. His considerable wealth and yearning for companionship makes him an easy mark for his new housekeeper, Angela (Barbara Kellerman) and her scuzzy boyfriend, George (Simon Ward). Pretending to fall in love with Raven, Angela plots to rob him, but the longer the ruse goes on, the more conflicted she becomes. Naturally, this can't end well for anyone involved...

Tale number two is the most lighthearted of the three, as club member and vampire movie producer - "A vampire movie producer?" asks Hayes. "Aren't they all?" quips Erasmus - Lintom Busotsky (Anthony Steel, in a parody of this film's producer Milton Subotsky) tells the club a story from his childhood. As a boy (Warren Saire), his rather nocturnal dad (Richard Johnson) attracts the unwanted attention of Pickering (Donald Pleasence), leader of a cadre of fanatical vampire hunters called the B-Squad. Despite the best efforts of his doting mum (Britt Ekland), it looks like dad is a goner, but things don't quite go as planned...

In the final tale, Stuart Whitman plays Sam, a horror film director in search of a location. This search brings him to a deserted little village populated by rampaging ghouls. His only ally is a pretty young "humanghoul" called Luna (Lesley Dunlop, who viewers of a certain age will recall from 90s Britcom May to December), but getting out of the village is much, much harder than it looks...

Bookending each of these tales are musical performances in the club by UB40 and less-remembered acts like Pretty Little Things, The Viewers and Night. The last of these contributes the most memorable tune with "The Stripper", a song accompanied by a hilariously literal – think Robbie Williams' "Rock DJ" clip - strip show.

The final feature film of veteran British director Roy Ward Baker (who passed away late last year at the age of 93), The Monster Club is a curious, er, beast. Combining the old-school anthology setup of countless Subostky/Amicus films with very-now (as in 1980-now) pop and rock tunes, this is amiable, messy and really quite likeable. The tales – all taken from short stories by the real R. Chetwynd Hayes - range from atmospheric to silly, with committed casts and some unusual monsters depicted. The club wraparounds are uneven, but amusingly kitschy, and Price and Carradine are obviously having a high old time. They even dance a bit during the closing number!
Presented in an open-matte 4:3 ratio (from a theatrical ratio of 1.85:1), the picture is a little faded, and the colours a tad dull, but film artefacts are generally minimal. No subtitles are included.
The 2.0 audio is functional and nothing more. You'll never strain to hear the dialogue, and there are no dropouts or distortion to be heard. Audio sync is periodically out during the musical numbers, but that seems to be a fault of the original soundtrack.
Extra Features
Not a thing, unless you count chapter selection, which I don't. In terms of content this is pretty much the same as the earlier MRA release. The Region 1 release is the most fulsome in terms of content (including a commentary and featurettes), but reportedly carries a poor, tape-sourced transfer.
The Verdict
While it represents a faltering attempt to make old-school horror get down with the kids, The Monster Club is still a charmingly eccentric clash of styles. If nothing else, it's worth a look for the absolutely delightful interaction of two venerable horror greats.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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