The Devil’s Rock 2011

devilsrock

The trouble with films about the devil or one of his minions is there comes a point where some members the audience will just throw their hands up in the air and claim the whole venture ridiculous. I presume this is because modern viewers can’t take the whole red skin, tail and horns thing seriously. This certainly happened during The Devil’s Rock when, about half way through as a clovened one showed up, my friend Leo shouted out “oh, this is going to be a silly film, isn’t it?” and then promptly lost interest in the whole affair.

 
That’s a shame because if you do like devils (and I love them, but not in a weird, sexy way) then you’ll find that The Devil’s Rock is a cracking little movie.

 
Two Kiwi Allied commandos are sent to one of the smaller Nazi occupied Channel Islands to cause some destructive mayhem,  distracting their enemies from the impending D-Day plans. However when our heroes arrive at the German’s barricade they find most of them dead and can hear a woman’s cries for help… Now if they had have watched The Keep they would have known those pesky Nazis were up to no good. They can’t be left alone for five minutes without conjuring up some supernatural deity or another.

After the opening segment of the movie involving some tense beach-plus-mine action and some very long, dark corridors, the story essentially boils down to just two rooms and three characters: one of the commandos, a Nazi officer (passionately and wildly played by Matthew Sunderland) and the chained up woman, Gina Varela. It is a wonderfully economical film, showing how to make a great tale on a tight budget if you set yourself up with strict limitations. This is helped in no end by the script which has some good surprises and a beating heart too, even if it does require Sunderland to go on a number of National Socialist tirades. Mind you, the Nazis loved a good tirade at the best of times so maybe that’s just realism for you.

 
Another bonus the film has are some really terrific make-up effects. As this is a New Zealand production I presume some folks from Weta got their hands dirty, and what a job they did. The demon make-up is some of the best since Tim Curry got all horney in Legend. Plus there’s a good splattering of blood and guts lying about, which is nice.

 
Past all the effects and Nazi shouting, what The Devil’s Rock is essentially about is the battle of good-verses-evil, like all stories about the Devil should be, and what World War Two was about also. On a smaller scale, and you don’t get much smaller scale than this, the film is about the battle over a good man’s soul and whether it can be tempted and corrupted, or if he can put the devil behind him. Okay so some of you out there might find the whole thing a bit silly, but these are universal themes people. Give it a go.

Advertisements

Frankenstein’s Army 2013

Frankenstein's Army Movie

Some of the best genre films come about when you take a number of different influences and ideas and meld them together to create something new, much like Frankenstein did when he created his monster. This monster of a movie doesn’t quite succeed but you can tell the film makers gave it their best shot.

Frankenstein’s Army concerns a troop of Russian soldiers at the tail end of World War 2 who, while laying to waste the now retreating Nazi forces, receive a call for help from a fellow Russian squad a few miles away. When the troop arrive at the squad’s location they find a Nazi bunker where some truly weird experiments have been occurring. What is it with Nazis and their experiments? They were obsessed, at least that’s what horror movies tell us. We’ve had Nazi zombies, werewolves, brain surgeries, devil worshipping and now, well, a mixture between zombies, steampunk and large gardening equipment. Look at these bathroom interlopers:

Frankensteins-Army-161

There’s no two ways about it, the variety of monsters and creations are the stars of this show, and they are hideous and hilarious in equal measures. One chap has a massive drill bit protruding from his gas masked face and wanders around on stilts – how does this guy eat for god’s sake? Another is just a pair of legs sticking out of a big bass teapot with a swastika on the front. They’re nuts. They look like they’ve been thrown together by a madman, but at the same time the design is just beautiful. So are the rest of the sets and costumes, everything is dirty and used and lived in, really amazing.

There’s a problem though, I didn’t tell you this is a found footage movie did I? I like this subgenre quite a lot even if the films do end up not knowing how to end and either finish with the camera falling over or the film breaking while someone screams. As the film is set in the forties they’ve tried to make the footage look authentic by adding scratches and burn marks, they’ve added a lovely detail of when the cameraman changes lenses. However if they really wanted to make if look real they would have had to go much further, it looks like video, there’s no getting away from it. Some of the colour grading is way off what old footage would have looked like. Also it would never have been in widescreen. If they really wanted it to work it should have been in 4.3 but then of course that wouldn’t have worked as a film with modern audiences. So essentially what we have is a problem. Found footage films have to LOOK like real found footage to work, but if they had have actually made It look real it wouldn’t have been acceptable as a proper film. The upshot of this is is that they shouldn’t have made a found footage film in the first place.

Frankensteins-ArmyDrill
There are other problems with this choice of film style. We don’t get to know the main character until well over halfway through the story because he’s the one with the camera. What madness is this? The only thing we know about him is that he’s annoying the rest of the troop by recording them all. Nothing new there then. Also whenever the monsters rear their weird metal heads the film descends into lots of running around corridors shooting at beasties. It feels like you’re watching a first person shoot em up. It should be involving but as we barely know the characters we are left feeling remote from the action. It’s a shame because the actors give it their all, it’s just we’re given snippets of them. There’s the loose-cannon/violent soldier, the man who wants to be home with his wife and kids, the young innocent; etc etc. the usual cliches.
However we do have those glorious monsters and what mayhem they cause with all their drilling, sawing and head crushing – there’s a particularly hilarious gag involving a helmet and a brain. And you know what, despite its problems with script and shooting style I think we should forgive the film its obvious flaws, because those crazy creatures are bloody brilliant.

The Entity 1982

entity

In 1982 a horror film about poltergeists came out that was in equal parts funny, scary and a great time at the movies. That film was, of course, Poltergeist and a few months later when The Entity arrived perhaps audiences thought they were going to get more of the same knockabout thrills. They would have been very, very wrong. The Entity begins with single mother Carla Mason (played by Barbara Hershey) coming home to her three children. She checks the two little girls are asleep and that her teenage son is still playing hard rock in the garage, as American teen sons did in the 80s. Then as she settles into her bedroom, preparing for sleep, she is punched hard enough to bleed, thrown onto bed and brutally raped, seemingly by an invisible force. It’s a shocking start to the story, and for a long while this horrific tone doesn’t let up. Of course it’s the old cliché: if you were in a house haunted by ghosts you’d just pack up and leave. Well, once Carla works out what the hell is going on that is exactly what she does. We’re about ten minutes into the film at this point by the way. However, this is a poor woman living in a country not know for helping those on the breadline. Initially she goes to stay with her one friend, Texan gal Cindy, but she and the kids can’t stay living on their couch, especially when Cindy’s disembodied voice of a husband complains bitterly about them from the next room. For the first half of the film most adult men are only half seen or half heard characters, not unlike the poltergeist itself; useless selfish figures merely interested in their own needs. Only Ron Silver’s doctor is seen fully and even he thinks Carla is making up the rape. Cindy, on the other hand is the kind of best friend everyone should have. While she doesn’t believe Carla is being repeatedly attacked, she still gives total support, all smiles, jokes and sleep-overs, even though there are hints that her own life is a deeply unhappy one. So financial circumstance and an inescapable need to provide a roof over her children’s heads forces Carla back to the house, where the malevolent force is waiting for her. The camera sticks close to Carla throughout this part of the film, sometimes only a few feet away like it’s waiting to pounce, at other moments it floats above her head as if looking down at her. At one point she’s alone in a psychiatrist’s office and she jerks sideways as if she’s just caught something out of the corner of her eye, not aware of the camera watching her from the floor. Barbara Hershey gives an absolutely amazing performance. In what could have been a hysterical shriek-feast of a role, Hershey makes you believe every bloody, horrific moment of this woman’s ordeal. There is an incredible scene when she talks about her past-life. Often actors will tell you that they are trying to find the “truth” of a character. If that’s what she was looking for, Hershey certainly found it. It’s one of the most profoundly sad monologues I’ve ever heard in a film and utterly heart-breaking. So The Entity sounds amazing right? I mean, horrible and intense but smart too, dealing with sexual violence and abuse with intelligence and a blinding performance from Hershey, yeah? So why isn’t everyone always talking about this film as a horror great? Or at least why isn’t it being rediscovered as a forgotten classic? Well maybe they would if the film had ended after the first hour and a half, because this is riveting cinema at its best. From the director of Superman IV and The Young Ones with Cliff Richard, who’d have thought it? However, around 90 minutes in Carla and Cindy bump into two Paranormal Scientists and from this moment the whole film goes to shit in a basket. Suddenly the dialogue plummets to nonsense, trying to explain everything scientifically with talk of “crossing across from a different plain of existence”. The two nerdy ghostbusters are pure cinema characters and could have stepped out of the other poltergeist film. There are lots of lab coats and recording instruments and it stops really being about Carla as we have scenes of men discussing her case which seem to serve no purpose to the plot at all. Then the visual effects team start getting carried away and the thing totally falls apart. There’s some early FX stuff involving Hershey’s breasts being moved about by the entity and it’s really freaky. But they do it again and it looks too fake and hokey and loses all impact. Then laser bolts start flying about like they’ve shot out of Nuclear Man’s eyeballs and we’re supposed to be impressed. We end with a truly diabolical ice effect which would have looked bad in 1982, and all this just doesn’t fit. It’s like someone else directed the last act. Such a shame. Anyway, we’re still left with a great two thirds of a movie with an unbelievably good central performance. And while as a horror film it has its faults, as a study on the effects of sexual violence and one woman’s self-belief and defiance of it, it’s terrific. Just stop the movie when the nerds show up okay?

The Blood Of Fu Manchu 1968

Blood_fu

I’m not sure why taking over the world is always so appealing to some folks, let alone someone so anti social as the Chinese super villain Fu Manchu. Yet the outrageous racial stereotype has a plan to take over the world, despite clearly not enjoying having to deal with people directly and so spending the entirety of the film hiding away in a cave.

That well know Chinese actor, Christopher Lee, plays the eponymous baddy for the forth time and in a rare moment in this brilliant performer’s long, illustrious career he clearly seems quite bored of the whole proceedings. Fu Manchu’s plan, if you can call it a plan, is to have ten women infected by snake venom and then to use their wily womanly ways to get close to ten of his “enemies” around the world. He is obsessed with his enemies, completely obsessed. He incessantly talks about them like they are the greatest threat in the whole universe and so it’s a bit of a shock when they turn out to be some old toffs and a fat bloke.

Anyway, once they’ve ensnared his enemies, the idea is that the women will kiss these poor unsuspecting men who will then go blind and promptly drop dead from the poison. After that, Fu Manchu will be clear to… Well it’s not clear what Fu Manchu will do. Something about poisoning all of London and bringing the world to its knees, but I’m not sure he’s really thought this through very well. Firstly, why do the women themselves not die from the venom? Somehow it’s something to with women being aligned with the serpent from old. Oh, that Old Testament bag of sexism. Didn’t realise Oriental would-be-dictators went in for that JudeoChristian kind of thing, but on the other-hand it does seem to work. Well, none of the women die from the poison, so the jobs a good-en.

Interestingly, none of the women are taking their jobs out of free will. They are all part of some kind of white slave trade ring and spend much of their time chained up, with their boobs being exposed, while screaming or acting defiant. However they all go along on their missions with little fuss and usually mess them up. One rebellious woman is told as she is a good dancer “you will dance one more time tonight, and it will be the last dance of your life.” So off she goes to dance her way close to a very fat and sweaty Mexican bandit (another one of Manchu’s enemies who appears to be such a non-threat that it seems like a waste of good snake venom to me) despite the fact she’s been told she will die and has to kill him too. This doesn’t seem all that appealing to me and I doubt I’d go along with it. Also it transpires that she blatantly is not a good dancer; she wriggles around on the floor like a wooden worm dying of a calcium overdose. Needless to say fatty bandit sees through her charade and pops a cap in her ass… As it is known in the bandit trade.

Oh yeah, at this point, Fu Manchu realises his plan hasn’t worked and so sends in a bunch of ninjas to chop up the Mexican. Why the hell didn’t he do this in the first place!? It’s a perfectly solid idea and the ninjas are brutally efficient, even if they never actually draw any blood and manage to take out their opponents with a poorly rehearsed slicing action which misses their victims all together.

Actually, the ninjas seem kind of flawed, in that they look uncannily like the Mexicans they are fighting. Now I come to think of it, considering the film is about a Chinese man trying to take over the world, there’s a distinct lack of real Chinese people present. Lee, despite his last name, obviously isn’t Chinese and no amount of hooded eye make up and dangly moustaches are going to make us think otherwise. None of his ninjas are Chinese and neither are any of his other cronies. They try to hide all this via the use of headbands and masks with dragons on them but really, they’re not kidding anyone.

The only Asian actor in this whole sorry mess is Fu Manchu’s daughter Lin Tang, played by Tsai Chin, who really is Chinese. You’ve got to admire a daughter like Lin, a real daddy’s girl, totally committed to his cause and his mad schemes.

Apparently Fu Manchu’s whole mantra is to destroy his enemies through cunning and elaborate plans, like the venom lady killer chicks, rather than by conventional means like just shooting them. It’s all nonsense of course, the moment the hero shows up in Fu Manchu’s evil lair/badly made cardboard cave, he shoots everyone with a machine gun and blows them up with some dynamite. Poor old Fu never stood a chance against such fire-power, or well really any firepower at all. I felt kind of sorry for him in the end, a sad old man telling his master plan to anyone who’d listen. Anyone being his daughter, some half-naked girls and some Mexicans dressed up as Chinese men. Bit of a half-hearted gang to take over the world with.

Mind you this whole adventure seems half-hearted, Jess Franco directs with almost no flare, Lee is asleep the whole time (or at least droopy eyed and not because of the bad make-up) and everyone else acts like acting is something they’ve only heard of five minutes before the camera rolls. It’s an entertaining half hour I suppose; unfortunately it’s an hour and a half long.

R.I.P.D. 2013

ripd-jeff-bridges

I don’t usually review films I’ve worked on but this summer R.I.P.D has been beaten up and spat on like an undersized infant in NHS glasses, so I figured someone had to come to its rescue. In its own little way it’s not half bad and it has one secret weapon that takes it to its own plain of silliness.

Let’s get straight to the crux, if you’ve seen the trailers or heard the premise then you will think what everyone else has thought: this is Men In Black… with zombies. And, sadly, you would be right as there is little attempt to steer away from that franchise. Ryan Reynolds plays a recently murdered cop who, instead of being whisked away to judgement, is recruited to join a team of un-dead police officers with the groan-worthy name Rest In Peace Department (the film actually acknowledge this). He is assigned a grouchy old partner and together they hunt down “deados” – dead people who refuse to move on to the afterlife.

There is more to the plot, however the film doesn’t get too bogged down by it. Mainly the story is just thrown away with a few lines of exposition before getting on with the next set piece. The movie whips along at a fair old pace with director Robert Schwentke keeping thing moving along pretty quickly. Schwentke isn’t a visual master, indeed his main trait seems to be an awful lot of crash-zooms. But, he does provide some nice moments and there’s a particularly beautiful one just after Reynolds is murdered. As all the other cops and robbers are frozen in time, Reynolds wanders around the action scene that killed him; explosions, bullets and bodies suspended all about him, as if in formaldehyde. This sequence was not completely done using CG either, which makes it all the more effective. Also, the action scenes are clearly shot and well choreographed. This kind of thing seems to be making a comeback in mainstream cinema at last.

That’s more than can be said about the 3D, which does take advantage of the depth of the compositions but it mainly looks incredibly murky and jittery. Mind you, this could well have been the cinema I was in. Yeah, I’m talking about you Cineworld, Shaftesbury Avenue. For the first ten minutes they hadn’t even switched the projector to Stereo so the image was doubled up, even with the glasses on.

Schwentke also gives time to developing characters – a husband missing his wife from the afterlife has been done before, but it’s done with sincerity and sweetness. There is an underlying sadness to all the R.I.P.D officers as their first duty is always to go to their own funerals. However, the film doesn’t distance itself from Men In Black enough. The offices of the Rest In Peace Dept. look too much like an alternative MIB office, they have wacky guns like the men in black, there are secret rooms and exits that come out into our world via run down shops and the music could be straight from Sonnefield’s movies. It’s a real pity, because if they had tried harder for a different aesthetic, it might have felt fresher all over.

All is not lost however. It’s time for the secret weapon. Okay it’s not secret at all, he’s right up there on the poster – Jeff Fucking Bridges. He is brilliant in this. Of course he seems to be playing an un-dead version of Rooster Cogburn from True Grit, seemingly uncaring as to whether he is undermining his Oscar nominated performance or not. He constantly has something to say, mostly useless wisdoms about how to do the job with curry sauce or how he died or some such, and Reynolds desperately wants him to shut up. But shut up he doesn’t, he plays the squeeze box, sings songs, pines after his lost hat and talks relentlessly about his funeral; which was basically his corpse being eaten by coyotes in the desert. The greatest moment is when Bridges, almost in tears, describes watching one of the coyotes having  sex with his skull (“both eyes”) as if it is a great tragedy. It is a mad-as-birds performance, a lawman who had spent too much time in his own company, driven slightly bonkers by the shock of being dead and still having to serve justice hundreds of years later.
There are other good jokes in there, but I won’t spoil them. Mary Louise Parker also has fun too, playing the Rip Torn role. Ah! See again: it continually fails to escape its Men In Black rip-off trappings, and that is it’s fatal flaw. I mean those films weren’t that good in the first place, so who wants to see a copy of them? However, I say look past that and you have an entertaining and silly popcorn movie with a magnificently unhinged performance by Jeff Bridges. That last line – unhinged performance by Jeff Bridges: surely enough of a reason to watch it when it turns up on Channel Five in a couple of years, sad, alone and unloved, except by me.

Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter 1974

kronos

The brilliantly titled Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter was meant to kick start a franchise and revitalise Hammer studios when it came out in the heady days of the mid-seventies. Instead it was another nail in the coffin (sorry) of the flailing British horror factory, even with that exciting name. And I can tell you why: after my all talk in the Twins of Evil review, Kronos is guilty of the worse sin of all – it’s a little bit boring.

Captain Kronos, a German soldier intent on tracking down the un-dead, finds himself traipsing through the English countryside in search of a villainous cloaked creature of the night who’s having a nibble on all the local wenches. He does this alongside his side kick, a hunchback professor (well why not?). It’s all a good idea, mixing up the adventure movie with the horror genre; however success is all in the execution, or not as the case may be…

I say the English countryside, but all the exteriors are shot seemingly in one rather small clearing in a wood. All of the action happens here, all of it. They set up a trap in a ten metre area, hang around and still miss the vampire, who seems to only hang about around the same tree. At one point a local decides to keep an eye on his woman as she walks home, she only lives on the other side of a row of trees, maybe twenty yards, but she still manages to get killed. Why didn’t her boyfriend just walk with her? They all knew about the attacks, was it that much of an effort to walk her home, a journey that’s the length of a double-decker bus.

And I say creature of the night, but all of this happens in very bright daylight. Whatever happened to the wonderful day-for-night footage Hammer was known for? In fact, the whole film is way over lit. The village pub, which looks suspiciously like the school set from Twins of Evil, looks like it has strip lighting it. The castle where the vampires live has a candle or two in the background, but they’re not kidding anyone.

Captain Kronos himself is not hugely likeable. While he’s good-looking in a Formula One’s James Hunt type fashion and has a cool sword, he’s mostly a bit dull and occasionally quite mean. He shacks up with a girl he frees from the stocks (the stunningly beautiful Caroline Munro) but after an unseen bout in the hay, she’s got all cuts and bruises on her face. Apparently he’s “troubled” and expresses this by inflicting violence during intercourse. I’m troubled, I do nothing of the sort. Grow up Kronos, stop being such a frightful cunt. He is very loyal to his sidekick though, the hunchback professor, who should be entertaining but mostly just rattles on a bit while sitting in trees.

It’s not all bad though, there are some nice touches. All the women who get bitten turn into craggy hags, replaced by much older actresses in wigs and that’s a fun idea. Apparently they die, but you never see that happen, they just sit there smacking their gums where teeth used to be. I wonder if their families or boyfriends just finish them off in disgust, unable to come to terms with young Meg turning into old Meg and rather than needing a good old knee-trembler behind the barn she’d happily settle for a cup of cocoa. Also, the vampire makes all the plants wither and die as he walks past them, one of the few visual flourishes in the movie. Indeed, throughout the film there is an underlying theme about hanging onto youth by any means necessary, stealing your beauty from others, and making them crumble to dust so you can keep young and nubile. It’s a classic Vampiric subject, though only half-heartedly done.

And that’s the whole thing with Captain Kronos, it’s all a bit half-hearted. The vampire hunting takes too much president over actual vampire killing, there are a lot of pointless sub plots that go nowhere and the characters aren’t developed enough to really get behind the mission. In fact, when the mystery of who the vampires are is revealed, it’s more glorified family soap opera than something a horror fan can sink his teeth into. God I hate myself for saying that. See, I’m troubled…

The Monster Club 1980

monster_club_pic2

I saw The Monster Club in the cinema when it came out. My mum took me to see it in a double bill with The Giant Spider Invasion in which the main giant spider is quite obviously a VW Beatle with black ‘legs’ attached to it. The Monster Club with whistling vampires, zombie strippers and a whole village of ghouls was clearly the better film. Another point worth mentioning is that it was an “AA” certificate which at the time meant over 14s only. I was nine and clearly my mum cared less about the laws of the land and more about a small boy’s happiness. I have a very great mum.

The Monster Club, following in the footsteps of Amicus’ Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror is an anthology of weird stories, this time with a wrap around tale involving John Carradine being bitten by vampire Vincent Price. After Price has taken a pint, the two old hams find they get on rather well so the vampire takes his victim to his private members’ club.

There is a concept painting in the background of the closing credits which shows off the Monster Club of the film, it’s all wild bands with a werewolf having a cocktail with Dracula while various hideous fiends dance around drunk. It’s a great, macabre work of art, and I imagine it was used to sell the idea for the film. If they had have made thismonster club I imagine we’d be watching a very different film. However a lack of time and budget seems to have scuppered this. The club we are presented with is like a poorly thought out school disco. There are dreadful, forgotten bands playing between each story. Because it’s 1980 there’s a mixture of new wavers and light rockers singing songs with terrible puns like “I’m a sucker for your love” or just outright monster references like “Monsters rule Okay?” (God, I think I loved that song when I was little, but have chosen to blank it out it until now) Meanwhile Price and Carradine talk embarrassingly about how much they like the songs, like a couple of unhip granddads. And then we have to listen to the whole bloody song – three minutes or more and they are all crap. The only highlight of this section is a bizarre bit where a stripper performs during an elongated guitar solo and, using traditional cell animation, she strips off her skin until she’s just a bunch of bones dancing around. It’s actually kind of charming.

What ain’t so charming are the other guests at the club. Looking at the various creatures, dancing around the tacky discotheque, the main words which spring to mind are “cheap”, “ill-fitting” and also, surprisingly, “spandex”. Basically the monsters are extras wearing cut-price, badly made masks and stumbling around in shiny leotards. And when I say badly made I mean you can see the actors’ skin through the eyeholes and the necks aren’t even tucked into the costumes, so they look just like the crappy masks they indeed are. One guy spends the entire time pretending to rub his chin, as if out of some intellectual curiosity about the proceedings, but it is blindingly obvious that he is just trying to stop his mask falling off. This monster club won’t be getting me as a member.

The three stories are a different matter. The first concerns a monster known as a Shadmock. The Shadmock, played by James Laurenson, is a rich, pale looking fella who loves pigeons but would rather have human company. Enter Barbara Kellerman, whose boyfriend wants her to scam the poor old creature and nick everything he’s got. Of course the Shadmock falls in love with Barbara and her Kate Bush hairstyle and as his sinister power is making things melt when he whistles, you know it’s all going to end in big blobby tears (of flesh). This isn’t a bad little story, Laurenson acts his socks off playing a rather pathetic character raising the game to create a genuinely sad little tale. The fact that he looks like Lon Chaney in The Phantom of the Opera adds to the creeping tragedy. It’s a shame that this story is blasted through in about ten minutes so we can get back to club and more bad singing. A bit more time allotted to develop the characters would have increased the emotional impact; still, it’s not a bad start.

This is more than can be said for the second story, about a boy who lives with his parents and rarely sees his dad because he “works the nightshift”. This vampire tale is meant to be a comedy but its jokes are so poor I’m not sure who would find it funny. The great Donald Pleasance pops up, but even he can’t elevate the proceedings and Ingrid Pitt has nothing to do as the boy’s mother, so much so that her character doesn’t even get a name. Thankfully, this tale is also rather brief, although the relief is short lived as we are then forced to hear a song sung by the woman who used to sing the Bodyform tampon advert them tune. This is the most horrific moment of the movie.

The final tale, thank god, is probably the highlight of the film. A Hollywood horror producer goes to check out an old English village as a potential location and comes a cropper to the ghouls who’ve been living there for years, surviving on the corpses in the graveyard. The ghouls themselves aren’t really seen, only the grey looking villagers who are never explained very well and have a bit of the Monty Python medieval extras feel about them. It should all be a bit silly, and okay it kind of is, but the village itself has a real sense of something horrible happening and of having happened here. This is most noticeable in a flashback scene using drawings by John Bolton (who used to work on 2000 A.D. Comic in its heyday… okay when read it).

They show what happened to villagers when the ghouls first arrived and this has a rather nasty but authentic feel about it. There’s also a good sense of a larger story going on, although this is not explored much because we have to go back to that loopy club and those stupid extras in rubber masks, again…

Okay, so ultimately The Monster Club isn’t really up to very much and maybe it would be better to have left the film just as a lovely memory I have about my mum. But it’s there now, I’m stuck with it. It has a few moments and four horror icons doing their thing, five if you include the Lon Chaney impersonator. But don’t expect me to go back to the other film in that double bill. Even at nine I knew that The Giant Spider Invasion was a load of old shit.

 

HORRIBLE STUFF FOR LOVELY PEOPLE