RECENT POST FROM THE BLACK BOX CLUB

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

'HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS' PETER CUSHING : VINCENT PRICE : CHRISTOPHER LEE AND JOHN CARRADINE: VINTAGE INTERVIEWS : HALLOWEEN 2012

A Heads Up, something special for Halloween! More details coming soon!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Friday, 17 August 2012

PCASUK FINDS FORGOTTEN 1955 PETER CUSHING PERFORMANCE: NELSON!


Did you know: PETER CUSHING played HORATIO?


Horatio Nelson to be precise. The date was November 16, 1955. The place was the Empire cinema, Leicester Square in London for the Royal Premiere of the feature film "Cockleshell Heroes" directed by and starring José Ferrer. Co-written by Bryan Forbes, the film tells the true story of a daring British commando raid by canoe on German blockade runners at Bordeaux in December, 1942. Attending the premiere were: Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Wilding, Jack Hawkins with his wife Doreen (who was once engaged to Peter Cushing), Michael Denison, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Robert Beattie, Clement Attlee and his wife, Lord and Lady Mountbatten, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duchess of Gloucester. Major Herbert "Blondie" Haslar and William Edward "Bill" Sparks, the sole Marine survivors of the famous 1942 canoe raid, also attended with members of their families. 


Before the feature attraction, guests were treated to a lavish prologue conceived by producer Jess Yates called: "Fanfare For Heroes". This live prologue included a mock commando raid, utilizing a handful of Marines in such a way to make their numbers appear more vast. Included amongst the 300 performers of "Fanfare For Heroes" was none other than Peter Cushing. The cover of "To Day's Cinema" showcases Cushing dressed in costume as Lord Horatio Nelson. In addition, the producers of "Cockleshell Heroes", Irving Allen and Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli (Warwick Film Productions), published a letter of thanks and singled out Cushing as a "distinguished artiste" in connection with the prologue. 

Christopher Lee was cast in the film "Cockleshell Heroes" as Submarine Commander Alan Grieves. Lee, Cushing and Ferrer had all previously worked together on John Huston's "Moulin Rouge" in 1952. Cushing and Lee (though not on screen together in the Huston film) wouldn't appear in the same film again until Hammer's "The Curse of Frankenstein" in 1957, which made them both instant film stars.


HAMMER FILM BLU RAYS: STUDIO CANAL: DEVIL RIDES OUT : MUMMY'S SHROUD AND RASPUTIN : COVER ART WORK AND RELEASE DATE!


Great to see some of the original artwork being used on the blu ray cases! ALL three blu rays will be released on OCTOBER 22nd. You can PRE order at AMAZON NOW!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

JOAN COLLINS : MARY TAMM : KIM NOVAK : JACK HAWKINS: DONALD PLEASENCE: TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS : GALLERY AND REVIEW



CAST:
Linking Story:- Jack Hawkins (Nicholas), Donald Pleasence (Dr Tremayne). Mr Tiger:- Russell Lewis (Paul), Georgia Brown (Mother), David Wood (Tutor). Penny Farthing:- Peter McEnery (Timothy), Suzy Kendall (Ann/Beatrice). Mel:- Michael Jayston (Brian), Joan Collins (Bella). Luau:- Kim Novak (Auriol), Michael Petrovitch (Kimo), Mary Tamm (Virginia), Leon Lissek (Keoki)

PRODUCTION:
Director – Freddie Francis, Screenplay – Jay Fairbank [Jennifer Jayne], Based on Short Stories by Jennifer Jayne, Producer – Norman Priggen, Photography – Norman Warwick, Music – Bernard Ebbinghouse, Makeup – Eric Allwright, Art Direction – Roy Walker. Production Company – World Film Services. UK. 1972.


SYNOPSIS:
A psychiatrist shows a friend around his asylum and tells him the stories of various patients. Mr Tiger:- Two parents become concerned when their son Paul develops an invisible playmate Mr Tiger. But then Paul starts collecting bones to feed it and they find claw marks on the door. Penny Farthing:- An antique dealer buys a painting and a penny farthing bicycle. The painting sends out emissions that lift him onto the bicycle and repeatedly transports him back to the same moment in the 19th Century where he is walking along a riverbank with a woman while secretly being observed by a disfigured man. Mel:- Brian brings home a strangely shaped piece of wood that he finds while jogging. Much to the annoyance of his wife Bella, he begins to neglect her and instead spend his time carving the piece of wood into the figure of a woman. Luau:- A Polynesian writer Kimo is invited to a party by wealthy show business agent Auriol. He seduces her daughter Virginia. However, Kimo has a sinister ulterior motive – that of killing Virginia and then serving up her cooked flesh at her mother’s dinner party in order to escape a curse placed on him.


COMMENTARY:
Tales That Witness Madness was very much an attempt to copy the style of the portmanteau horror films patented by England’s Amicus Films. Indeed, Tales That Witness Madness has many similarities to Asylum (1972) released by Amicus the same year – both films feature the same framing device of a psychiatrist in an asylum telling the stories of his patients. Tales That Witness Madness was also directed by Freddie Francis, who was the most prolific director of Amicus’s anthologies, having made the likes of Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (1964), Torture Garden (1967) and Tales from the Crypt (1972). (See below for Freddie Francis’s other genre films).


The first episode Mr Tiger is a rewrite of The Veldt segment of the Ray Bradbury anthology The Illustrated Man (1968), albeit with Bradbury’s science-fiction justification removed. Freddie Francis delivers it with a droll sense of humour. There is a particularly charming final shot to the segment, focused on the boy playing his toy piano as the killings take place off-screen, he unconcerned as welts of blood splatter all over the wall behind him. 


The second episode Penny Farthing is the best of the stories, an intriguing, cleverly constructed time travel puzzle that continues to circle around the same moment in time, before ending on a fascinating causal paradox. The third segment Mel has the camp value of Joan Collins showing down in one of the grand battles of bitchery she would later base her Hollywood career on up against an animate tree. The image of a backlit tree, half-carved into a female shape is given a certain primal eroticism, but no matter how much imagery that Freddie Francis pumps into it, the block of wood supposedly come to life it is not a particularly expressive or threatening menace. Luau, while holding a strong, taboo-crossing premise, is the weakest of the segments, suffering from some awful campy acting on the part of Kim Novak and some bad dialogue from screenwriter Jennifer Jayne.


Freddie Francis has called Tales That Witness Madness his best film. It features his customary sharp and stylish contrasts between fore– and background. Despite fine premises, the stories often suffer from the flat-minded literalness that beset many of the lesser Amicus entries. This is particularly so with the last two segments, which fail to hold up to their initial conceptual inventiveness and taboo-daring.


The screenplay was written by actress Jennifer Jayne under the name Jay Fairbank, adapting several of her own stories. Jennifer Jayne was a minor British actress whose most notable role was as the sister of the psychic Janet Munro in The Trollenberg Terror/The Crawling Eye (1958). She has appeared in a number of Freddie Francis’s films including Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (as Donald Sutherland’s vampire wife), Hysteria (1965), They Came from Beyond Space (1967) and The Doctor and the Devils (1985). As Jay Fairbank, she also wrote the screenplay for Freddie Francis’s flop horror musical Son of Dracula (1974).


Freddie Francis’s other genre films are:- Vengeance/The Brain (1962), Paranoiac (1962), Nightmare (1963), Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (1964), The Evil of Frankenstein (1964), Hysteria (1965), The Skull (1965), The Psychopath (1966), The Deadly Bees (1967), They Came from Beyond Space (1967), Torture Garden (1967), Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968), Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly (1969), Trog (1970), The Vampire Happening (1971), Tales from the Crypt (1972), Craze (1973), The Creeping Flesh (1973), Legend of the Werewolf (1974), Son of Dracula (1974), The Ghoul (1975), The Doctor and the Devils (1985) and Dark Tower (1987). 

REVIEW: Richard Scheib
IMAGES: Marcus Brooks

Friday, 10 August 2012

MARY TAMM: BLACKBOXCLUB PIN UP NUMBER 15 !


NADIA GREY: BLACKBOXCLUB PIN UP: NUMBER 14


HAMMER FILMS: 'MANIAC' KERWIN MATTHEWS DONALD HOUSTON NADIA GREY : REVIEW GALLERY



CAST:
Kerwin Mathews (Jeff Farrell), Nadia Grey (Eve Beynat), Liliane Brousse (Annette Beynat), Donald Houston (Georges Beynat), George Pastell (Inspector Etienne), Jerold Wells (Gilles), Arnold Diamond (Janiello)

PRODUCTION:
Director – Michael Carreras, Screenplay/Producer – Jimmy Sangster, Photography (b&w) – Wilkie Cooper, Music – Stanley Black, Art Direction – Edward Carrick. Production Company – Hammer. UK. 1963.


SYNOPSIS:
American artist Jeff Farrell arrives in the tiny town of San Jerome in France’s Camargue region. He becomes attracted to Annette, the nineteen year-old daughter of the inn’s owner Eve Beynat. Instead, Eve moves in on Jeff and the two become lovers. Eve reveals that her husband Georges has been placed in an asylum, diagnosed as insane after he killed a man who molested Annette. Jeff wants Eve to come away with him but she is still married to Georges. After visiting Georges, the two of them hatch a plan where she and Jeff will help Georges escape, whereupon he will grant permission for them to be together. They aid in the escape and Georges flees to go into hiding in England. However, they find that he has left the murdered body of a warder in the trunk of the car and are forced to dispose of it. Afterwards, someone plays taunting games with them and they believe that the psychopathically crazed Georges has returned seeking revenge.


COMMENTARY:
Maniac was one of the films from England’s Hammer Films. Hammer had had great success with their remakes of The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula/The Horror of Dracula (1958) and had gone onto a series of sequels to these and other horror works. As the decade turned, there was the enormous success of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) in the US. Hammer promptly joined a number of other filmmakers around the world that started making copies of Psycho. Beginning with A Scream of Fear/A Taste of Fear (1961), they turned out a series of psycho-thrillers, most of which had one word titles that describe a disturbed state of mind with the likes of Paranoiac (1962), Nightmare (1963), Hysteria (1964), The Fanatic/Die, Die, My Darling (1965), The Nanny (1965), Crescendo (1970) and Fear in the Night (1972).


Maniac was one of the handful of occasions when Hammer producer Michael Carreras, grandson of the company’s founder, stepped out of a producing role and into the director’s chair. Carreras had directed two of Hammer’s earlier non-genre war films with The Steel Bayonet (1957) and Visit to Canton (1961) and went onto make some of their more staple genre efforts such as The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964), Slave Girls (1967) and The Lost Continent (1968). The script is from Jimmy Sangster who wrote the abovementioned Frankenstein and Dracula films and became most associated with their psycho-thrillers, also writing Paranoiac, Nightmare, Hysteria, The Nanny (1965) and Crescendo, and directing The Horror of Frankenstein (1970), the lesbian vampire film Lust for a Vampire (1971) and Fear in the Night. 


Maniac does one of the rare things for a Hammer film of this period – it goes out of doors rather than shoots in studio interiors. In this case, Michael Carreras and the production crew travelled to the Camargue region of France, which consists of some 300 square miles of marshes and sandbars in the southeast of the country. It is not the best of locations – on screen it seems like endless empty beach and sand with almost no features on the horizon. Moreover, the film is shot in black-and-white (as almost all of Hammer’s psycho-thrillers were), where one feels that the colour Hammer employed elsewhere would have featured the area to better advantage. Cinematographer Wilkie Cooper also fails to use the location in any cinematic way, mostly shooting the whole film in dreary two-shots and medium angles – the sole exception might be a scene where Kerwin Mathews and Nadia Grey race along the beach on horses.


Michael Carreras lacks much in the way of directorial style – he is certainly nowhere up alongside Terence Fisher or Freddie Francis, Hammer’s most prolific directors, in terms of style. Most of the film takes place with the dreary lack of exception of a British quota quickie where you might be mistaken for thinking during the film’s first half that it is a torrid melodrama about love affairs in the tropics rather than a psycho-thriller. That said, Carreras does make things work with occasional reasonable effect when the psycho-thriller element kicks in – there is an effectively tense chase sequence through a set of ruined tunnels at the climax.


When the psycho-thriller element does arrive, it is more than clear that Jimmy Sangster has borrowed a few leaves from Les Diaboliques (1955), the classic French thriller whose plot about fooling a woman into believing that her murdered husband was not dead in a contorted plan to kill her was imitated by a number of other psycho-thrillers of this era. Sangster borrows several plot elements from Les Diaboliques – the husband who was thought to have been murdered or disappeared but continues to turn up; the impression left that he or someone else is taunting the conspirators about their guilt and complicity; and especially the elaborately contrived ending where everything has been set up to fool somebody.


On the minus side, the eventual explanation of what is going on [PLOT SPOILERS] is so ridiculously improbable that the entire film falls apart when logically examined. Here we learn that the scheme that Kerwin Mathews thought he was buying into where he was helping Nadia Grey spring her husband from the asylum so they could get his blessing to be together was not the case at all. There is then one twist where the husband (Donald Houston) reveals this is part of his plan to kill Kerwin Mathews and leave his and the dead warder’s bodies so that the authorities will believe that the two escapees were killed in an accident and he can leave with Nadia Grey. 


However, another twist shows that this is not the case either as daughter Liliane Brousse is taken to meet her father and fails to recognise him, before it is revealed that he is the warder and is the one having an affair with Nadia Grey and that they set everything up so that they can elope together. Stop for a moment and realise what the plan the couple have hatched is – to kill off her husband by having her seduce a stranger (Mathews) who turns up in town, letting Mathews believe that she wants to run away with him so that he can agree to help spring her husband from an asylum, during which the warder/her real lover claims to be the husband and goes along with a scheme to smuggle him away to England, then pretends to return and terrorise the couple in order to kill two people and fool the authorities into thinking that the husband and warder have been killed in an accident (with said authorities presumably asking no questions about what happened to Mathews), all so they can leave together in peace. To me, it seemed much easier when two people who wanted to be together simply just eloped and went away together. 

REVIEW: Richard Scheib
IMAGES: Marcus Brooks

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

LIONEL JEFFRIES : EDWARD JUDD : 'FIRST MEN IN THE MOON' (1964) REVIEW AND GALLERY.


CAST:
Lionel Jeffries (Professor Joseph Cavor), Edward Judd (Arnold Bedford), Martha Hyer (Katherine Calender)

PRODUCTION:
Director – Nathan Juran, Screenplay – Nigel Kneale & Jan Read, Based on the Novel by H.G. Wells, Producer – Charles H. Schneer, Photography – Wilkie Cooper, Music – Laurie Johnson, Visual Effects – Ray Harryhausen, Special Effects – Kit West, Art Director – John Blezard. Production Company – Ameran.

SYNOPSIS:
A UN expedition makes the first manned Moon landing in 1964. Instead, they discover a British flag and a summons for a Katherine Calender that is dated 1899 on the surface and realize that they are not the first there. The late Katherine Calender’s husband Arnold Bedford is tracked down in a geriatric home. He tells how his neighbour, scientist Arnold Cavor, discovered a metal capable of shielding the effects of gravity. Coating a sphere with the metal and using shutters to control direction, Cavor, Bedford and Katherine were able to escape Earth’s gravity field and travel to the Moon. On the Moon, they encountered and were made prisoners by a race of three-foot tall Selenites.


COMMENTARY:
The First Men in the Moon (1901) was one of H.G. Wells’s lesser known classics, a book where Wells used the theme of lunar exploration to create a nightmare parable about ergonomics and adaptive evolution. The story was stolen and never credited by Georges Melies for the basis of his seminal science-fiction film A Trip to the Moon (1902), albeit given a much lighter treatment than Wells did. The story was also filmed in Britain as The First Men in the Moon (1919), although this version has been lost today and does not even exist as stills any longer. So it remains to this to offer a definitive version of the story although, as it transpires, by no means any more serious a one than Melies’s burlesque version, which had the ship being loaded into a cannon by dancing girls. Certainly, there is little to be seen here of H.G. Wells’s social parable and exploration of the idea of how a society might be formed along the lines of an insect hive.


The First Men in the Moon was mounted by American stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen and his producer Charles H. Schneer, who had just come from acclaimed classics such as The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) and Jason and the Argonauts (1963). (See the bottom of the page for Ray Harryhausen’s other films). The script was adapted by Nigel Kneale, the British writer who attained fame in the 1950s for his Quatermass tv plays and the Hammer films adapted from these. [See The Quatermass Xperiment/The Creeping Unknown (1955)].


The First Men in the Moon came out a few years after Disney’s adaptation of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954). This had kicked off a spate of period science-fiction classics adapted from Verne, which included the likes of Around the World in 80 Days (1956) and Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959). After George Pal’s successful period adaptation of The Time Machine (1960), other filmmakers turned to the works of Verne’s contemporary H.G. Wells. 20,000 Leagues and The Time Machine remain this cycle’s high points but its downside was that many, if not most, of the films ended as burlesque – Verne had to suffer the increasingly buffoonish likes of the 20th Century Fox Journey to the Center of the Earth, Irwin Allen’s Five Weeks in a Balloon (1962), then Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon/Those Fantastic Flying Fools (1967) – and with The First Men in the Moon it was H.G. Wells’s turn.


Certainly, the Lunar scenes are good and display a degree of imagination in places – images of vast bubbling cylinders of liquid to generate air, solar lasers and so on. The issues of weightlessness and air and sound in a vacuum are conducted with a little more credibility than most pre-1969 Moon landing science-fiction, although the script has the tendency to bring up the fact that sound does not pass in a vacuum and then ignore it anyway. The cave sets and blending of opticals used to depict the Selenite city are very good too. Harryhausen animates a Moon calf but for time’s sake was forced to abandon the idea of animating most of the Selenties and have them played by children. As a result, the stop-motion creations here count as the most anonymous, least showcasey examples of Ray Harryhausen’s work. The optical effects are variable – while individual model scenes impress, thick matte lines abound and the models ache for the advent of motion control camerawork.


The film’s major minus point are the Earthside scenes. Here the humour comes written in broad, irritable strokes. The blithering bumptiousness of Lionel Jeffries’ Cavor quickly tires and becomes tedious. The impressive creation of the Selenite society is considerably undermined by the human reaction to it – Cavor’s response is merely to wither up and spinelessly apologise, while Bedford’s is one of out-and-out xenophobia, with he happily killing and throwing Selenites over cliffs, something the film does not seem to take any great exception to. The final twist ending, added clearly as a sardonic echo on the ending of Wells’s War of the Worlds (1898), wherein is revealed that Cavor’s cold succeeded in infecting and killing the Selenites, seems a final mocking insult, and in the film’s playing up of Bedford’s own undisguised glee, one that adds offence to affront.


The First Men in the Moon was later superbly remade as a BBC tv movie The First Men in the Moon (2010) with Mark Gatiss as Cavor and Rory Kinnear as Bedford.

Ray Harryhausen’s other films are:– the atomic dinosaur film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953); the giant atomic octopus film It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955); the alien invader film Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers (1956); the alien monster film 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957); The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958); The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1960); the Jules Verne adaptation Mysterious Island (1961); the Greek myth adventure Jason and the Argonauts (1963); the caveman vs dinosaurs epic One Million Years B.C. (1966); the dinosaur film The Valley of Gwangi (1969); the two Sinbad sequels The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977); and the Greek myth adventure Clash of the Titans (1981).

Nathan Juran’s other films are:– the horror-adventure film The Black Castle (1952), the giant bug film The Deadly Mantis (1957), Harryhausen’s 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), the classic bad films The Brain from the Planet Arous (1957) and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958), Harryhausen’s The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), Jack the Giant Killer (1962) and The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973).

Nigel Kneale’s other film scripts were The Abominable Snowman (1957), Quatermass 2/The Enemy from Space (1957), Hammer’s The Witches/The Devil’s Own (1966), Quatermass and the Pit (1967) and uncredited work on Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982). Kneale’s teleplays were:– The Quatermass Experiment (1953), 1984 (1954) from the George Orwell novel, Quatermass II (1955), Quatermass and the Pit (1958-9), The Road (1963), about a haunting that may in fact be an example of time travel, The Year of the Sex Olympics (1970) about a future where the populace is pacified by televised sexual competitions, Wine of India (1970) about a future society that enforces euthanasia, The Stone Tape (1972) about the investigation of ghostly phenomena, the tv series Beasts (1976), Quatermass/The Quatermass Conclusion (1979) the comedy series Kinvig (1981) about two science-fiction fans who are transported into encounters with UFOs and the ghost story tv movie The Woman in Black (1989). 

REVIEW: Richard Scheib
IMAGES: Marcus Brooks

Thursday, 2 August 2012

VINCENT PRICE: JOHN CARRADINE : THE MONSTER CLUB : SUBOTSKY'S LAST ROUND.

CAST:
John Carradine (Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes), Vincent Price (Eramus), Anthony Steel (Lintom Butosky), Roger Sloman (Club Secretary). Shadmock Story:- Barbara Kellerman (Angela Jones), James Laurenson (Raven), Simon Ward (George). Vampire Story:- Warren Saire (Young Lintom Butosky), Donald Pleasence (Pickering), Richard Johnson (Manfred Butosky), Britt Ekland (Mrs Butosky). Humegoo Story:- Stuart Whitman (Sam), Lesley Dunlop (Luna), Patrick Magee (Innkeeper)

PRODUCTION:
Director – Roy Ward Baker, Screenplay – Edward & Valerie Abraham, Based on the Novel by Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes, Producer – Milton Subotsky, Photography – Peter Jessop, Music – (Shadmock Story) Douglas Gamley, Played by John Williams, (Vampire Story) – John Georgiadis, (Humegoo Story) – Allan Hawkshaw, Music Coordinator – Graham Walker, Songs Performed by Night, Pretty Things, B.A. Robertson & The Viewers, Background Music – Expressos & UB40, Animation – Reg Lodge, Makeup Effects – Roy Ashton & Ernest Glasser, Monster Masks – Vic Door, Production Design – Tony Curtis. Production Company – Chips Productions/Sword and Sorcery Productions.


SYNOPSIS:
Horror author Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes meets the vampire Erasmus in the street and is invited to The Monster Club where monsters socialize. There various monsters tell him their stories:– Shadmock Story:- Raven is a Shadmock, a result of the interbreeding of a vampire and werewolf, and has become a recluse because of his hideousness. He hires Angela Jones to catalogue his antiques. The two fall in love and she agrees to marry him. When Raven finds that Angela has only professed love in order to rob him, he exacts a horrible revenge. Vampire Story:- Vampire filmmaker Lintom Butosky tells his story. As a young boy, he was fascinated by his father’s mysterious profession. Prodded by the priest Pickering that headed V-squad, Scotland Yard’s special vampire-hunter unit, he made the discovery that his father was a vampire. Humegoo Story:- A horror film director finds the perfect village for a film location. He is given a welcome by the ghoul villagers who call a feast – which turns out to be him.


COMMENTARY:
Together with partner Max J. Rosenberg, Milton Subotsky founded Amicus Productions in the early 1960s and they became the most successful of the companies exploiting the Anglo-horror cycle created by Hammer. Amicus produced a number of horror anthologies during the 1960s and 70s including Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (1964), Torture Garden (1967), The House That Dripped Blood (1970), Asylum (1972), Tales from the Crypt (1972), The Vault of Horror (1973) and From Beyond the Grave (1973). Indeed, Subotsky and Rosenberg defined the horror anthology as Amicus’s trademark.


After the break-up of Amicus in 1978, Milton Subotsky went his own way and formed Sword and Sorcery Productions. There Subotsky attempted to mount a number of interesting projects – Thongor in the Valley of the Demons, a sword and sorcery film from Lin Carter’s sub-Conan novels that would have starred Darth Vader himself Dave Prowse; and several other productions that ended up being produced by other people – the tv adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles (1980); the remake of Cat People (1982); while Subotsky also purchased the rights to a host of Stephen King short stories that were eventually brought by Dino de Laurentiis to emerge as Cat’s Eye (1985) and Maximum Overdrive (1986) with Subotsky receiving nominal producer’s credit. Other than the psycho-thriller Dominique (1978), The Monster Club was the only of these projects that emerged directly under Milton Subotsky’s hand.

The Monster Club was an attempt to return to Amicus’s bread and butter – the horror anthology. Subotsky brought back Anglo-horror regular Roy Ward Baker, who had directed Asylum for Amicus, and united three horror stars – John Carradine, Vincent Price and Donald Pleasance. The film was adapted from The Monster Club (1976), a short story collection by minor British horror writer Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes, who had earlier provided the basis for Amicus’s From Beyond the Grave. While the other Amicus anthologies played themselves seriously, the tone in The Monster Club is jokey and in-referential – there is, for example, a vampire filmmaker named Lintom Butosky (an anagram for Milton Subotsky). Subotsky had intended The Monster Club as a horror anthology that could be seen by children. Alas for Subotsky, The Monster Club was a flop that sounded the death knell for the Amicus horror anthology and fairly much the whole Anglo-horror cycle.


The Monster Club at times, looks a little sad. Setting a linking story around a club where extras in badly fitting monster masks dance, shows the level the film is aiming at. The kids. But, there is one cool moment with a stripper who not only strips off her clothes but her skin as well in animated silhouette. At the end, Vincent Price delivers a feeble lecture that humanity is the greatest monster before getting down and boogieing with a 300-pound monster.


The first segment has some mildly lyrical location shoots but is spoiled by another unconvincing monster and a predictable ending. The second segment is failed burlesque, but is at least lifted by a jaunty, energetic score. The third segment, which is reminiscent of Amicus’s first film City of the Dead/Horror Hotel (1959), is probably the best, with Roy Ward Baker effectively conjuring up an horrific atmosphere despite a distracting electronic score. At least John Carradine, Vincent Price and Donald Pleasance rise to the occasion and deliver expectedly well-polished performances.


Roy Ward Baker became one of the prominent directors to rise in the latter decade of the Anglo-horror industry. Elsewhere, Baker made Quatermass and the Pit/Five Million Years to Earth (1967), Moon Zero Two (1969), The Vampire Lovers (1970), Scars of Dracula (1971), Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971) and Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) at Hammer; Asylum (1972), ... And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973) and The Vault of Horror (1973) at Amicus.

REVIEW: Richard Scheib
IMAGES: Marcus Brooks

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