The first question I had to ask myself upon viewing this movie on DVD was why has it been issued with a "15" certificate? I was always under the impression that this was an attempt to produce a horror movie that could appeal to kids and adults. In fact I remember watching a feature about the making of this movie on the ITV children's programme Clapperboard when I was only about 11 or 12 years old! There is no explicit sex or nudity in this film, no obscene language and no graphic violence so the "15" certificate is baffling to me. I have seen PG and 12 certificate movies with stronger content than this one!
Anyway, onto the film itself... The first thing that struck me about this movie was the impressive cast list. There are three great horror stalwarts in it - Vincent Price, John Carradine and Donald Pleasence. There are also some other actors and actresses who have appeared in well-known horror movies in the cast - Richard Johnson (Zombie Flesh Eaters), Anthony Valentine (To The Devil.... A Daughter), Simon Ward (Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed), Patrick Magee (A Clockwork Orange, Asylum, Tales From The Crypt) & Britt Ekland (Asylum, The Wicker Man), for example.
The premise and wrap-around-story involves the horror novelist Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes (Carradine) encountering a hungry vampire called Eramus (Price) one night whilst looking in a book shop window full of his own works. Eramus suddenly bites Chetwynd-Hayes on the neck to fulfil his desperate craving for fresh blood. Eramus tells the writer that he did not bite deep enough to transform him into a vampire and as a "thank you" for becoming an unexpected blood donor Eramus invites him to a special place called The Monster Club.
Upon arrival at the club they are escorted to the vampire's favourite coffin-shaped table and Eramus orders a glass of Type O blood because Type B is off! The waiter (who is also a vampire) suggests to Chetwynd-Hayes that he orders a tomato juice to look less conspicuous! As they sip their respective beverages, Chetwynd-Hayes, the one human in the entire joint, notices an unusual chart on the wall nearby. Eramus explains that this is a monster's genealogical chart and describes the creatures which would be produced if different monsters and their hybrids were to mate with each other. I must say this is an ingenious and original idea and it forms the basis of the three creepy stories in this film. At the bottom of the monster hierarchy is the shadmock, a creature which possesses a deadly whistle of all things! This leads us onto the first story.
The second story is a vampire tale which is very much fang-in-cheek but it is the final story, involving the humegoo creature from the chart and a village of ghouls, which is the creepiest and best of the bunch. The foundation of this particular segment involves a horror movie director (played by Stuart Whitman) who is searching for atmospheric locations for his latest movie. His search leads him to the strange village of Loughville (not to be confused with Loughborough) where he meets Luna who is a humegoo (the offspring of a ghoul and a human - what a horrible thought) and discovers the village's dreadful macabre secret. There are some seriously spine-chilling moments in this third story, particularly the moment when the film director reads the clergyman's journal in the now desolate church, and there is a literally ghoulish twist ending.
In between each story segment we are "treated" to very dated and sometimes embarrassing musical numbers by bands and artists who seem to have faded from memory nowadays - does anyone remember B.A. Robertson? It is rather amusing to see Messrs Price & Carradine strutting their stuff near the end of this film though!
One song by a band called Night, sung by a red-haired female lead singer who would make a good scream queen, is called Stripper and serves as the soundtrack to a bizarre strip-tease routine where the lady removes more than just her clothes, not that we see any actual nudity - as I said earlier this film was originally aimed at kids as well as adults so the strip routine is shown in silhouette form when it reaches the nitty-gritty part then changes to animation for the unusual finale.
On the whole, this is a very entertaining film with a wonderful cast. I especially like the ending where Eramus proposes that, because he is a human, Chetwynd-Hayes should become a member of The Monster Club as humans are the ultimate monsters. He then proceeds to explain to his grotesque fellow members about all the murderous weapons that humans have invented and the variety of methods humans have used to destroy fellow humans! Who can argue with that? This 'Who are the real monsters?' message reminded me of the 'Who are the cannibals?' statement at the very end of Ruggero Deodato's notorious Cannibal Holocaust. Who would have thought that a comparison could be made between a kids' horror film and one of the most infamous of all the so-called video nasties?
There are no special features on this DVD - I do not count scene selection as a special feature as this is something that should be standard on any DVD. So this is just a bare bones release then (sorry about the pun) but if you are a Vincent Price fan or just a fan of horror movies in general then this is worth having in your collection.