The Monster Club is a 1980 British comedy horror film which stars Vincent Price, John Carradine and Donald Pleasance. It was directed by Roy Ward Barker. The screenplay was written by Edward Abraham and Valerie Abraham, based on stories by the horror author Ronald Chetywnd-Hayes. A fictionalized version of Chetwynd-Hayes himself appears as one of the characters in the film. The Monster Club was the last film to be made by the British production company Amicus.
In common with many other Amicus horror movies, The Monster Club is an anthology film, made up of three self-contained stories, "The Shadmock Story", "The Vampire Story" and "The Hungoo Story", that are linked together by a framing device. The film opens with a man being attacked by a vampire named Eramus. When Eramus discovers that his victim is the famous horror author R. Chetwynd-Hayes, whose works Eramus loves, he thanks the man profusely for letting him have some of his blood and further shows his gratitude by taking him to the nearby Monster Club. Eramus tells Chetwynd-Hayes that he is certain to find inspiration for future stories there. At the club, Chetwynd-Hayes sees a clip from the latest film of producer Linton Bustosky, who is himself a vampire, and hears two stories about lesser known monsters, Shadmocks and Humgoos, from Eramus.
The film features four musical numbers, performed by B.A. Robertson, The Pretty Things and Night, which appear before the first story, between the stories and at the end of the film. The most memorable of these musical segments is probably "The Stripper", performed by Night, which is accompanied by an animated sequence in which a woman, seen in silhouette, peels off her skin to leave nothing but a skeleton. The soundtrack features songs by UB40 but the band do not appear in the film itself.
The Monster Club was unrated by the Motion Picture Association of America on its first release in the United States. On its first release in the United Kingdom, the British Board of Film Classification gave the movie an A certificate (meaning that children could not watch the film unless they were accompanied by an adult). When the movie was released on home video in the United Kingdom, it was rated 15 (meaning that the video cassette could not be supplied to anyone under 15 years of age).
Opening and framing device
One evening, the horror author R. Chetwynd-Hayes is walking along a quiet street in a provincial English town. He is approached by someone who appears to be a beggar. The beggar says that he is starving but refuses money for food, claiming that he has never been able to keep food down. When Chetwynd-Hayes says that he will do anything he can to help the beggar, the man takes that as permission to bite him and drink his blood, revealing himself to be a vampire.
Having gone through his victim's pockets, the vampire is thrilled to discover that he has bitten the famous horror writer R. Chetwynd-Hayes. He revives the man, introduces himself as Eramus, explains the situation and says that he is an admirer of his work. Eramus reassures Chetwynd-Hayes that he has not bitten him in such a way that will cause him to become a vampire himself and the bite does not seem to have caused any lasting damage. Keen to show gratitude to the writer for allowing him to drink some of his blood, Eramus takes Chetwynd-Hayes to the nearby Monster Club, telling him that he will find inspiration for future stories there.
At the club, Eramus tells Chetwynd-Hayes more about the various different types of monsters that exist. He hears two stories from Eramus and sees a clip from an upcoming film.
"The Shadmock Story"
Chetwynd-Hayes notices a poster, which Eramus tells him shows the various types of monster and how they are related to each other. Eramus goes on to explain that there are three primary monsters, vampires, werewolves and ghouls. Those three monsters can all mate with each other and produce hybrids. Those hybrids can also mate with all other kinds of monsters and produce further hybrids. One such hybrid is a Shadmock. Eramus says that Shadmocks do not bite or scratch but only whistle. Chetwynd-Hayes does not think that sounds very horrific but Eramus says that the last time a Shadmock whistled, a man lost his mind. The story proper then begins.
Angela and George are a couple of young petty criminals. Although George scorns the idea of getting a proper job, they look through the situations vacant section in the newspaper, looking for potential victims. They notice an advert placed by someone called Raven, who lives in a large old house and is looking for someone to take an inventory of his many old books. George tells Angela to interview for the job, telling her that there would be many things that she could steal from the house.
Raven has very pale skin, black rings around his eyes and wears black gloves at all times. When Angela first sees him, she flees in horror. However, at George's insistence, she returns to the house and begins to work for Raven. A relationship slowly develops between the two. Raven says that he has to avoid human contact, although his relatives sometimes visit him, and that his only friends are some pigeons which he feeds. When Raven finds that a cat has killed one of the pigeons, he becomes angry and whistles at the animal. Angela later finds a cat-shaped heap of ashes.
Raven asks Angela to marry him. George tells her that she should accept, so that she can find out the combination to a safe where Raven keeps the engagement ring he has bought. Raven announces that they will have a party to celebrate the engagement. Adding that his relatives may be too much for Angela to take at once, he says that everybody should wear masks.
During the party, Raven finds Angela emptying the safe. He tells her that she can keep the money, as long as she gives him her love. Angela screams that she could never love Raven because he is hideous. Saddened and enraged, Raven whistles again.
Angela returns home, having been horribly disfigured, as if she had been burned, as a result of the Shadmock's whistling. She continuously asks George if he can still love her. George goes mad as a result.
"The Vampire Story"
The club secretary, a werewolf, announces that they are honored to be joined by Linton Bustosky, the vampire film producer. Linton announces that he is going to show a clip from his latest movie, which is based on his own childhood. The story proper then begins.
Linton is a shy boy who is unhappy at school. His parents both moved to England from "the old country" where his father was a count. Linton rarely sees his father, who works nights and sleeps in the basement during the day. Linton's father is unwilling to tell his son exactly what he does for a living but tells the boy to beware of men carrying violin cases.
One afternoon, a group of children are bullying Linton until a clergyman arrives and stops them. Linton tells the clergyman some of his problems. The clergyman tells Linton that he can probably get his father to play with him if he wakes him up early. He adds that Linton should do it while his mother is out.
The next time Linton's mother goes out, Linton goes down to the basement and is horrified to find his father sleeping in an open coffin. In terror, Linton runs to the front door of his house. When he opens it, he finds the clergyman that he saw earlier standing there. However, the man is now wearing a black suit and a bowler hat and carrying a violin case. He is accompanied by two identically dressed men who are also carrying violin cases. The man says that his name is Pickering and that he is part of a government agency dedicated to wiping out vampirism. The men's violin cases contain wooden stakes and hammers.
Pickering and his assistants make their way to the basement. Pickering drives a stake through Linton's father's heart, just as Linton's mother returns home. However, the vampire bites Pickering before he appears to die. Linton's mother says that it is a deep bite and, as a result, Pickering will turn into a vampire too unless his men stake him through the heart first.
After the men from the anti-vampire agency have gone, Linton's father reveals that he is still alive because he always wears a stake-proof vest full of tomato ketchup.
"The Humgoo Story"
Chetwynd-Hayes notices a picture of a young woman, who likes quite normal, at the bottom of the poster which shows various types of monsters. Eramus explains that, as well as mating with each other, all monsters can also mate with humans and produce human-monster hybrids. The young woman on the poster is a Humgoo, whose mother was human and whose father was a ghoul. Eramus goes on to tell her story.
Sam is an American film director in England. Looking for a remote village as a suitable location for his latest horror movie, he follows a simple wooden sign to Loughville, passing through a patch of mist before he enters the village. Sam enters the local inn and the inn-keeper, a shabbily dressed old man, appears. Sam announces that the village would make the perfect location for his latest film but starts to become uncomfortable when he finds out there is no telephone at the inn and when he is told that he will have to ask permission of the Elders, who will arrive soon, before he is allowed to film there. Sam says that he is going to leave but finds the entrance to the inn blocked by similarly shabbily dressed people, many of them wearing hooded robes. Finding that his car will not start and being told that there is no garage nearby, Sam reluctantly agrees to spend the night at the inn.
A young woman brings some food to Sam's room. She tells him that she is Luna, the inn-keeper's daughter, and that she is different from the others in the village. Everybody else in the village is a ghoul but Luna is a Humgoo. Her mother was a human who came through the mist several years earlier and died when Luna was born. In broken English, Luna explains that her clothes, and those of everyone else in the village, were taken from coffins which the ghouls dug up, the furniture in Sam's room was made from coffins and the ghouls ate the people which they found in the coffins. Luna adds that the coffins are now all empty. Sam realizes that, when the Elders arrive, he will be eaten. Luna tells Sam that he should go to the church. He will be ssafe there because the ghouls cannot enter the building. Luna, however, can join him there because she is a Humgoo.
Sam manages to get inside the church. He finds the skeletal remains of the village's last priest and reads an account that the priest was writing when he died. Many years earlier, a strange creature which looked almost human arrived in the village. The priest took pity on the creature and treated it kindly, until he saw it eating a corpse which it had stolen from a grave. The villagers chased the ghoul away but dozens more came in its place and took over the village.
Luna joins Sam in the church but the ghouls begin to attack the building. They stop when Sam places a cross on a long pole at the window. Carrying the cross in front of him, Sam leaves the building. Luna follows him and the ghouls give chase. Sam and Luna pass through the mist but, while they are going through it, one of the ghouls throws a stone which hits Luna on the head and kills her.
Arriving at the main road, Sam flags down a police car. He starts to try to explain the situation to the two police officers but then asks to be taken to the police station instead. They agree but Sam then finds that he is being driven back to the village. One of the officers explains that the Elders always get a police escort when they go back to Loughville. The story ends with the revelation that the two policemen are ghouls themselves.
Eramus tells Chetwynd-Hayes that he has become very fond of him and wants him to become a member of the Monster Club. The club secretary is shocked by Eramus' suggestion because Chetwynd-Hayes is a human. Eramus goes on to explain that humans are the greatest monsters of all. They made up for their lack of sharp teeth and claws by creating weapons that ranged from swords to atomic bombs. Throughout history, they came up with many creative and horrifying ways of killing each other and killed millions of their own kind in the 20th century alone. Suitably impressed, the secretary is delighted to welcome a human into their club. To celebrate the admission of a new member, the band strikes up a tune and everybody dances.
- Vincent Price - Eramus the vampire
- John Carradine - R. Chetwynd-Hayes
- James Laurenson - Raven the Shadmock
- Barbara Kellerman - Angela
- Simon Ward - George
- Anthony Steel - Linton Busotsky as an adult
- Warren Saire - Linton Busotsky as a boy
- Britt Ekland - Linton's mother
- Richard Johnson - Linton's vampire father
- Donald Pleasance - Pickering the vampire hunter
- Stuart Whitman - Sam the film director
- Lesley Dunlop - Luna the Humgoo