Uncovering Curiosities: Roy Ward Baker’s THE MONSTER CLUB
The Monster Club is a totally bizarre, but ultimately very enjoyable horror-comedy-musical starring Vincent Price, Donald Pleasence and John Carradine. This 1981 low budget shlocker, directed by Roy Ward Baker may not be the most cohesive of portmanteau horrors but it does work on a kitsch level.
Framed around the titular Monster Club, the film sees Vincent Price’s gentleman vampire regale John Carradine’s famed horror writer tales of terror in the hope that he’ll commit them to paper. The first tale, The Shamdock is a Beauty and the Beast type story of a thief befriending a lonely ghoul in the hopes of stealing his treasure. The second story, The Vampires, sees a vampire family attempt to fit into suburbia, while the final entry, The Ghouls, sees a film director find more authenticity than he hoped when on a location scout for a monster movie. The three tales weave horror and humour together, while the Monster Club setting features a lot of post-punk musical interludes.
If the 1970s saw the death throes of the classic horror movie, then The Monster Club must be the genre’s last breath. Released in 1981, the film could potentially be the last horror film to feature classic ‘old-fashioned’ monsters without a predominance of blood and gore. The film’s tone may be somewhat unbalanced. The Vampires is more comedy than horror and some of the monster effects are down-right terrible, but The Monster Club is an enjoyable monster-mash of a movie that will suit fans that prefer their horror movies with s touch less blood and a bit more velvet. Vincent Price and Donald Pleasence bring decades of horror history to their roles and while The Monster Club may feature moments that feel beneath them, they never look like they aren’t enjoying it. Just watch the final musical number to see Vincent Price having a good time on the dance floor.
Playing like a live-action version of Forrest J Ackerman’s Famous Monsters Of Filmland magazine, The Monster Club works a piece of cinematic history dedicated to a very old fashioned idea of what a horror movie should be.