Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Vincent Price went clubbing? Well wonder no more, just watch The Monster Club! This 1981 anthology film walks the line between horror and comedy and perhaps a little more on the comedy side than was initially intended.
Vincent Price plays a vampire named Eramus who introduces the film’s segments, all of which are based on stories written by British horror author Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes. The author is actually a character in the film, portrayed by John Carradine, who encounters Eramus on the street in the film’s opening scene. After a brief sample of his blood, the aged vampire takes his new friend to his favourite club for a night of debauchery with the monsters that frequent it.
The club is filled with a wide variety of creatures of varying degrees of scariness. It becomes quite apparent that most of the budget for this film went towards paying Price and Carradine’s salaries as the quality of the monsters’ costumes and makeup is comparable to a Party City Halloween commercial. There is also a wide variety of entertainment at the club ranging from early 80s style new wave music to a burlesque show performed by a skeleton, at the conclusion of which Price deadpans, “nice bones.”
At the club, Eramus proceeds to explain the lineage of various monsters and describes what results when they interbreed, using a visual aid to get the point across. This serves to set up the various stories in the anthology. The stories themselves are taken much more seriously than the club scenes with Price and Carradine that are more parody than horror. I can’t quite describe any of the stories as actually being scary in any way though as they exude a degree of campiness in line with the scenes set inside The Monster Club.
Here’s a brief rundown of each story:
The first segment is titled Shadmock Story and centres around a wealthy demonic character named Raven (played by James Laurenson) who lives a lonely life at his manor. A woman named Angela (played by Barbara Kellerman) comes to work for him and hatches a plan to take advantage of the lonely Raven with her devious boyfriend. After pretending to share his affection for her and accepting his marriage proposal, Angela attempts to rob Raven’s hidden safe of its riches but gets caught in the act.
Once Raven realizes he was being used, he shows his displeasure by using his evil power of whistling (yes I said whistling), to seek his revenge. This audible evil somehow disfigures Angela’s face, turning her into a monster herself. The very simplistic plot of this segment along with the more humorous than frightening demonic whistling sets the tone of the remaining segments to come.
The next segment, titled The Vampires, stars the always entertaining Donald Pleasence as Pickering, a vampire hunter who has “sworn to eradicate the curse of vampirism from this land.” He sets off to track down an elusive vampire, starting by “staking” out his bullied son at school, and later reaching the home of the fanged fiend (played by Richard Johnson).
With his crack team of vampire exterminators, Pickering attempts to put an end to the elusive vampire by gleefully driving a stake through his heart as he sleeps in his coffin while his horrified family watches. All is not what it seems however as the vampire has prepared for just such a situation by wearing…wait for it…a stake-proof vest. Pickering celebrates a bit prematurely and when he lets down his guard the undead trickster goes for the jugular, biting him and turning him into a vampire as well. Ironically, Pickering’s vampire killer team is forced to put a stake though his heart and the segment ends with the vampire family laughing in satisfaction. A feel good ending for vampires everywhere!
The final story is called The Ghouls and centers around a movie director named Sam (played by Stuart Witman) who is searching for the perfect location to film his new horror film. Sam takes a drive to scout out a remote village which seems to have the perfect ambiance for his movie. Once there he discovers the village’s inhabitants are actually ghouls who have sinister plans in mind for him. Sam tries to flee but realizes his car has been sabotaged so he seeks shelter in a chapel with a hum-ghoul named Luna (played by Lesley Dunlop) that he encounters. In case you were wondering, hum-ghoul is that thing that happens when your father is a ghoul and your mother is human. Duh!
Luna wants to leave her ghoulish side behind and escape the village so the two try to make an escape using the only thing that can protect them, a cross sceptre they found in the chapel. As they are chased through the forest by ghouls, Luna collapses and cannot go on so Sam leaves her behind and runs to the nearest motorway for help. Sam quickly encounters a police car and thinks his nightmare has ended but soon realizes it is only beginning when the officers reveal themselves to be ghouls and take him right back to the village so he can become “ghoulash” for the villagers’ dinner.
The Monster Club was entertaining but definitely more silly than scary. It was nice to see a lighter side of veteran actors Vincent Price and David Carradine who were given the opportunity to loosen their ties a bit with some comical scenes between each segment of the anthology.
The final scene was particularly entertaining as we watch the two dance and ham it up with the various monsters at the club. They tried to wrap up the movie with a moral message as Price’s character offers Carradine’s character membership into the Monster Club after explaining how humans are perhaps the worst monsters of all due to the many atrocities they committed and wars they started. The best part of The Monster Club however was just watching Price and Carradine have a little fun in the twilight of their careers. Cheers gentlemen!
The Monster Club is available on the free streaming service Tubi.
This is my contribution to The Vincent Price Blogathon. My ghoulish partner on this blog has also contributed to the blogathon here. Please check out some of the other contributors by clicking on the image below. Our thanks to Cinematic Catharsis and RealWeegieMidget Reviews for allowing us to join the club.