Friday, October 7, 2016

Shadmocks, Mocks, and Humghouls

Roy Ward Baker directed many movies, and R Chetwynd Hayes wrote many books, but The Monster Club is the movie where the talent of these two British horror meisters intersected. Although maligned for a long time as cheesy and not scary at all, The Monster Club has in past years begun to receive the credit it deserves as a fun and well-crafted entry into the horror anthology genre.

The Monster Club, based on the book of short stories of the same name by Hayes, weaves three stories of semi-gruesome horror around performances by contemporary British bands in a subterranean club being attended by Vincent Price and John Carradine.

Carradine, Price, Pleasance, Chetwynd Hayes and Roy Ward Baker. Critics of this movie were always off base. If the criticism is it wasn't scary the proper response is so what. It was meant for a broad television audience. It most definitely is PG13 at worst and in my opinion appropriate to watch with your family at Halloween. Cheesy? So what? If you're not familiar enough with Vincent Price's work enough to know that 99% of his performances were cheesy then you shouldn't be offering an opinion in the first place.

Most American audiences who hadn't rented it on video saw The Monster Club for the first time on Elvira's Movie Macabre on the evening of Feb 6, 1983. It was episode 66. That's when I saw it. We all learned a lot about monsterdom from this movie.

We learned that there are the primate monsters, vampires, ghouls, and werewolves, but we also learned that these primate monsters interbreed, creating hybrid monsters, and that these hybrids also interbreed with the primate monsters, other hybrids, and even humans. Price says "The results are almost always disastrous, but they will do it." 

"What do they do?" Carradine rejoins, and Price launches into the setup for the first story, about a lonely creature called a Shadmock that isn't scary in any real way except one...

Shadmocks, Mocks, and Humghouls from The Monster Club

Two of the three stories involve Shadmock and Humghouls, two of the lowest creatures in the monster hierarchy. Humghouls seem to have even less powers than a Shadmock. None in fact according to the third story. Perhaps they enjoy a little human flesh once in a while, but they get that from the ghoul side of the family. 

All three stories in The Monster Club are entertaining, but what is even more entertaining about this movie is the music, the set up interludes where Price and Carradine speak, and the soundtrack. With the success of the Netflix show Stranger Things, and a resurgence in interest in electronic music, fans of this musical genre will want to check out Alan Hawkshaw's songs here, including Ghoul's Galore. 

Those who have bad-wrapped The Monster Club in the past should give it another chance, and all fans of horror should definitely give it a first chance.

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