We’re back for another round of Haunted MTL’s Notes from the Last Drive-In with S4E6, featuring The Monster Club (1981) and Hellbender (2021). I’ve been somewhat critical of the stated themes over the season. Still, I am happy to report that isn’t an issue this week as the show delivers on the stated theme of “musical horror,” which is fantastic. Plus, we get a horror anthology to boot!
The film quality is undoubtedly a step up from last week’s Slaughterhouse, that’s for sure. So, what was the night like for Shudder‘s premiere movie hosting show? Can Joe Bob embrace a horror anthology for a change? Let’s dive in.
The Monster Club (1981)
The Monster Club (1981) is a British horror anthology directed by Roy Ward Baker, which also was his final film. The film was written by Edward and Valeria Abraham and adapted from the works of horror author R. Chetwynd-Hayes. The Monster Club is also notable for being the last film of producer Milton Subotsky, best known for his association with Amicus Productions.
The horror anthology movie is a cult film owing to the cast and the soundtrack. Vincent Price, John Carradine, Donald Pleasance, and Stuart Whitman headline the film, with Price and Carradine featuring heavily in the framing narrative about the club. The film’s soundtrack is pretty iconic, featuring B. A. Robertson, The Viewers, and The Pretty Things. NFilms’lso appears in one of the most iconic sequences of the film.
The Monster Club follows a vampire named Eramus (Vincent Price), who is helped to some blood by a writer, R. Chetwynd-Hayes (John Carradine). Eramus thanks the writer by inviting him to a secret monster club, where he learns the genealogy of monsters and takes in the sights and sounds of the club.
What will catch most first-time viewers of The Monster Club off guard is the movie’s tone. The horror anthology framing narrative of Eramus and Chetwynd-Hayes is pretty goofy and upbeat. These scenes almost make the film a musical comedy and are filled with sight gags and nods to the Amicus Films’ history (though this was not a production of Amicus Films). However, this is contrasted by the serious and frightening nature of the horror anthology stories within the film, of which there are three.
The first tale of the horror anthology, “The Shadmock,” is a deathly severe story about a couple who attempt to take advantage of a reclusive estate owner, Raven (James Laurenson), who is one of the hybrid monsters called a Shadmock. The second tale, “The Vampires,” features a boy (Warren Saire) who has a vampire father. The story follows the boy accidentally leading a vampire hunter (Donald Pleasance) to the home, but the tone varies widely within the story. Lastly, “The Ghouls” is the most frightening of the stories. The final segment follows a movie director (Stuart Whitman), who discovered a village of ghouls while scouting for a filming location. He befriends a ghoul named Luna (Lesley Dunlop), but the tale is bleak.
The changes in tone may be challenging for some viewers to swallow, but the format evokes some of the classic comic anthologies such as Creepy and Tales from The Crypt. The mixture of horror and comedy is pretty standard, such as in the Creepshow, which would come out a year later, and is even seen in The Last Drive-In week to week. What helps ease casual viewers in is the glee by which Vincent Price and John Carradine play their roles and embrace the scenes among goofy monsters in plastic masks as ska-infused music plays in the background. The Monster Club is ultimately a lit”le goofy but might b” He’seat film to introduce people to horror and monster media. However, fans of horror, you’re likely to be left wanting.
The film is relatively average from a technical and aesthetic standpoint. Peter Jessop’s cinematography is fine, but visually the film shares many Hammer Horror hallmarks. The editing by Peter Tanner is effective but does not do anything particularly innovative either. The costuming and set design is probably a highlight because it is relentlessly silly for the club scenes. The horror anthology itself is pretty rote, but the wrapping is quite adorable.
Joe-Bobservations on The Monster Club
Joe Bob perhaps summarized the movie’s tone the best during the closing break for the first half of the evening, saying that the film is “so fucking charming.” He’s not wrong. It was a nice, joyous night’s first half with a cute movie. We don’t get many of those on The Last Drive-In, but when we do, they stand out. For example, I’d consider The Legend of Boggy Creek, Sorority Babes at the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama, and Deathgasm among the cuter films shown on the show. Your mileage may vary, of course.
The lecture elements of the show here were solid, as usual. But British horror is also one of those topics that has been covered so much that insights and discoveries were few to be had. I do consider that the typical member of the Mutant Family has a great deal of awareness of horror films, so many revelations about the British horror scene were somewhat familiar. The background on Amicus Films was great, however. Also fun was Joe Bob being happy with an anthology film as he usually disparages them.
Also, one can’t help and smile at the monster dance party across two of the host segments. Much like The Monster Club, they were “so fucking charming.”
Final Thoughts on The Monster Club
Intensely silly and ultimately harmless, The Monster Club feels like an all-ages answer to horror anthology films such as Creepshow. The film is quite charming, and though the tone varies wildly, it is entertaining throughout. The film doesn’t aim too high and appears quite aware of what it is. While the anthology stories are hit or miss, with “The Ghouls” packing the most robust punch, they come off stronger when framed by scenes of John Carradine and Vincent Price being the icons they are. Their sense of glee elevates even the roughest aspects of the movie.
In his Drive-In Totals, Joe Bob Briggs gave the film 4 out of 4 stars. I think that is fair; The Monster Club is a classic at this point, warts and all. Had the stories been stronger, this movie would have fared a bit better. I give it 4 out of 5 Cthulhus.(4 / 5)
Best Line: “Can we truly call this a monster club if we do not boast amongst our membership a single member of the human race?” – Eramus
Hellbender is a 2021 horror film from the creative family behind 2019’s The Deeper You Dig. The film was written and directed by John Adams, Zelda, Adams, and Toby Poser. It also stars Zelda Adams, Toby Poser, John Adams, and Lulu Adams. This independent production is an exciting example of a family working together, and they are pretty prolific, with many films under their belt already. Truly a fascinating and unique example of independent cinema.
The film follows a teenager and her mother who lives in an isolated cabin. The teen, Izzy (Zelda Adams), is told she has an illness by her mother (Toby Poser) that prevents her from being around other people. In time, Izzy meets some locals, such as Amber (Lulu Adams) and a hitchhiker (John Adams), and learns that she may be isolated for the protection of other people due to her witchy heritage.
Hellbender is a solid film with a lot going for it but is not without its problems. The film’s highlights are the visuals and soundtrack. The movie makes the most out of consumer-grade digital video cameras and shows that fantastic cinematography is achievable with a practiced eye and affordable technology. Drone shots are also used frequently in the film to provide some distance and ethereal glimpses of the eerie woods of the Catskills as well. If that wasn’t enough, the film’s special effects are pretty impressive as well, between gore and trippy, dreamlike imagery. One particular shot with a key and a hand is genuinely remarkable.
The score, composed and performed by the band Hellbender, comprised of the same family involved with every stage of the film’s production, features an original score of atmospheric dread punctuated with performances of the witchy band and their original compositions. It’s pretty fun, and in many ways, the film could also be a series of music videos for an eventual album as the songs and the narrative seem to work in tandem.
The performances are solid. Zelda Adams handles her role as an increasingly bold and independence-seeking teen quite admirably. She also plays well against Toby Poser’s mother character, which is a necessity since most of the runtime comprises scenes between the two. If I had to give one of the actresses the advantage, I’d say that Poser has the more demanding challenge and the more complex performance. Her unnamed character has to deal with a complex series of fears and anxieties, and she does a fantastic job conveying them.
The most significant concern I have with the movie is that the middle section drags quite a bit as Izzy begins to explore her heritage. There is some beautiful imagery, and I feel the journey is important, but overall the pacing slows to a crawl. I had a similar issue with one of the family’s earlier films, The Deeper You Dig. The limited cast stretches the narrative too thin. I think the movie could have lost an easy 15 to 20 minutes and still worked quite well. On the other hand, if the film’s length was necessary, an additional narrative hook is needed to help introduce some more tension into the middle section. There is too much brilliantly shot narrative padding, which puts a damper on the film.
Though I also think the film’s plot is a bit barebones, and the ending makes sense, it feels abrupt and with minimal setup. The relationship between Izzy and her mother is never quite shown to be as bad as the ending would indicate it was, rendering the inversion of their roles seemingly arbitrary. The film would have benefited more from the introduction of more tension in the central relationship because, as it stands, it is relatively idyllic. The dramatic weight isn’t there.
Joe-Bobservations on Hellbender
For the second half of the evening, Joe Bob’s host segments mostly comprised a series of questions and answers with Zelda, John, and Toby. These sequences were a lot of fun, especially as they came out in greasepaint, evoking the musical sequences in the movie. Of the interviews, I feel the segment where it was Joe Bob and John Adams discussed the techniques and John’s surprising past as a model was most enjoyable. This is mainly due to the focus, as the couch filled, the conversation felt less specific. Then again, this happens with most multi-person interviews on the show.
Outside of the interview element, Joe Bob opened the second half of the night with a fun discussion about music in horror but found himself somewhat outclassed by Darcy, who raised several influential horror music composers. However, he did bring up a salient point about the usage of noise in horror films, suggesting a “best achievement in noise” Oscar. I can get behind that.
Final Thoughts on Hellbender
Hellbender is an impressive independent film project that evokes the steady hand of experience. The fact it is the work of a family that has built up this library of independent film is very admirable. The movie looks great and has a strong concept and soundtrack; however it suffers from a significant pacing issue. The film could also benefit from an additional plotline or further complications to pay off its exciting ending.
Joe Bob gave Hellbender 3 out of 4 stars in his Drive-In Totals. I think he’s spot on with it, as there are some admirable elements to the movie. I found the runtime bloat a bit too insurmountable myself, however. I give Hellbender 3 out of 5 Cthuhlus.(3 / 5)
Best Line: “You opened a door that once it’s opened can be hard to shut.” – Mother
Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals
As always, here are the official totals, straight from Shudder.
As for our totals, we have…
- 3 instances of “thee-ate-er”
- 3 dance parties
- 12 monster lineages
- $1.7 million dollar budget
- 200 short stories by R. Chetwynd-Haze
- Opening rant with 4 points and 3 digressions
- Familial vomit bonding
- Gratuitous Drive-In Academy Awards
- Gratuitous ghoulery
- Darcy birthday shenanigans
- Horror host verbosity syndrome
- Safe robbing
- Stripper Jokes
- Irish Jokes
- Clipboard Fu
- Whistle Fu
- Kung Fu Review Fu
- Darcy Cosplay: Skeleton Stripper
Episode Score for the Last Drive-In: S4E6 – The Monster Club and Hellbender
For me, this week’s episode would fall in line with an average episode of The Last Drive-In. The movies were entertaining, and the host segments were good. It’s not a bad way to spend five hours on a Friday night. I also appreciated the night’s stated them, “musical horror,” actually playing out across both films. Sweet, sweet unity.
I’ve been a bit critical of the themes this season because, in at least a few episodes, they’ve been weak and unsupported by the chosen film pairings. That’s not the case here at all. Everything is copacetic. We’ll see how next week goes.
I give The Last Drive-In season 4, episode 6, 4 out of 5 Cthulhus.(4 / 5)
What did you think of the films? Were you already a big fan of The Monster Club? Did you enjoy Hellbender? What about the music? Let us know in the comments.
Can’t get enough of The Monster Club?
Do you love this musical horror anthology? Why not use our sponsored Amazon link to snatch up a copy. Doing so helps out Haunted MTL.
1971’s ‘The Corpse Grinders’ is purrrfect
Have you ever wanted a movie from the 70’s where a woman gets home from work, strips down to lingerie to lounge on her couch, only to be killed and eaten by her cat?
Of course, you’re a regular human, just like the rest of us. Who doesn’t fantasize about that?
Well, kids, I found us that perfect movie in the salacious and groovy Arch Hall Sr. film, THE CORPSE GRINDERS.
The Plot of The Corpse Grinders:
Corruption! Capitalism! Murder! Fake-ass sign language! Cats! This movie has IT ALL.
Partnering with a couple who owns a cemetery, they begin grinding up the mystery meat and sell it to unsuspecting consumers. But the consumers begin to be consumed themselves (that’s my best joke of the year, you’re welcome), a veterinarian begins to investigate the reason why our feline friends have turned feral.
Can this nefarious plot be found out in time by investigators? And by “investigators”, I mean, literally just this veterinarian and some nurse. Or will they too become victims in the feeding frenzy?
Thoughts on The Corpse Grinders:
This was only written by Arch Hall Sr. and not directed, but honestly, for being a low-budget comedy-horror, it cements him as a cult classic icon. Probably known most for Eegah, of MST3K infamy, he wrote and directed many camp movies during the 60’s and 70’s. Usually to showcase his son’s, er…talents.
But he legitimately had some fun ideas and execution, especially when someone else was in the director’s chair. THE CORPSE GRINDERS is fun and exciting schlock, a feast for the eyes in its limited cinematography, acting, and lighting.
And call this a hot take, but I think THE CORPSE GRINDERS would have made a better edition to MST3K than Eegah did because it works so incredibly well as campy horror. There’s a lot of honest humor in it, but metric tons of things to poke fun of and riff.
So, I have two brainrolls.
First, give me the rights. Gimme. Because this movie is RIPE for a reboot. Yes, that’s right. Not Pinhead, not Chucky, not gay icon Chucky – no! Corpse Grinders is a perfect example of something with enough cheese, enough spark, and enough of a story that still gels. With the right writers, director and cinematographer, this could really be a great reboot.
And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – reboot movies like THIS. Old, beat-up movies with enough spit and polish to be fun and enjoyable. Something you could add to with more budget, technology and direction. Stop, please, stop making ‘I Spit on Your Grave’ part 24. It’s done, it’s old, lie those types to rest and focus on movies that kind of sucked but would be phenomenal after time has passed.
The second is, um…American Sign Language (?) in the film. Which, okay, I’m a million percent with having those with disabilities shown on screen. I love it. Gimme 2.0. But…But why this, specifically?
We have a side character who is Deaf, but…um…the ASL is, well…
Remember that séance scene from Wild World of Batwoman? Yeah. It’s on par with that.
In MY new Corpse Grinders, she’s going to have a much wider role and actually be a Deaf actress and not…whatever that was. Because you took a cool idea and made it incredibly offensive. So, six of one and half-dozen of the other.
If you love campy fun movies about cats eating people and-…
Jellybeans, what are you doing?
helloo itsme branyl i wriet horro movis nd not a jellllllybens cAt. can i haz humnbrger?(4 / 5)
February Titles for Arrow Streaming
Wow, January sure flew by fast! But guess what? It’s time to see what goodies Arrow is bringing to the small screen soon. Let’s find out!
Feb 3rd: Robert Altman: Giggle and Give In and Made in the USA
February 3 Joyce documentaries about the American indie film scene: Robert Altman: Giggle and Give In and Made in the USA (both US/UK/CA/IRE). Joyce’s documentary profile of Altman, originally produced in 1996 includes contributions from Altman, Elliott Gould, Shelley Duvall, assistant director Alan Rudolph and screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury.
Feb 3rd: Charles Band: The Puppetmaster
February 3: Charles Band: The Puppetmaster (UK/IRE/US/CA). Triple-threat writer-producer-director Charles Band has been pulling the strings making horror, sci-fi and fantasy features since the 70s and his films were a massive part of making the 1980s home video boom, well, boom.
Charles Band: The Puppetmaster brings together many of his wildest and most fun work, from murderous pint-sized puppets to re-animated horrors, from time-travelling Trancers to a terrifying Tourist Trap, and even the re-tooled Doctor Strange movie starring Jeffrey Combs as a slightly different sorcerer supreme. And I LOVE Jeffrey Combs!
Titles Include: Puppet Master, Doctor Mordrid, Trancers.
Feb 6: Killer Tech
February 6, while shopping for a gadget for your sweetheart, ARROW uploads Killer Tech (UK/IRE/US/CA) to the service.
We all want the latest gadgets, but in Killer Tech screen time means scream time.
From cursed videotapes and phone calls to the dangers of the dark web and vicious virtual reality, ARROW’s newest, smallest, lightest, fastest, most expensive curated collection doesn’t just have the best screen, largest amount of storage and the coolest camera – it also comes with a guarantee that the newest tech equals instant death.
Titles Include: .com For Murder, Laguna Ave, Edge of the Axe.
I recommend Edge of the Axe!
Feb 10: Cinematic Void Selects
February 10, ARROW hands the keys to the kingdom to Cinematic Void, a Los Angeles-based cult film screening series into the mouth of cinemadness. Focusing on all oddball gems of all genres, the Void unleashes an onslaught of horror, eurotrash, exploitation and gonzo action on the silver screen at the American Cinematheque. CV film programmer Jim Branscome has selected a few of his favourite films of the genre for your viewing pleasure in Cinematic Void Selects.
Titles Include: Deadly Games, Deep Red.
February 14 celebrates Valentine’s Day with the perfect pairing: the undead and the living dead.
Two Orphan Vampires (UK/IRE/US): A pair of teenage girls, who are blind by day, but when the sun goes down, they roam the streets to quench their thirst for blood.
Zombie Lake (UK/IRE/US): In a small village, somewhere in France, German soldiers, killed and thrown into the lake by the Resistance during WWII, come back.
Also Valentine’s Day:
Jean Rollin: The Fantastique Collection Part IV (UK/IRE/US).
Led by the brand new and exclusive documentary from filmmakers Kat Ellinger and Dima Ballin, Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World Of Jean Rollin, welcome to ARROW’s final volume of horrifying dream-like sauce from the master of conjuring up erotic nightmare fuel, Jean Rollin, The Fantastique Collection Part IV.
Titles Include: The Living Dead Girl, Lost in New York, Dracula’s Fiancee.
Feb 17: The French Hitchcock: Claude Chabrol
February 17, with The French Hitchcock: Claude Chabrol (UK/IRE/US).
For five decades Claude Chabrol navigated the unpredictable waters of cinema, leaving in his wake more than fifty feature films that remain among the most quietly devastating genre movies ever made. Sardonic, provocative, and unsettling, Chabrol’s films cut to the quick with a clarity and honesty honed to razor sharpness.
Though influenced by Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock and Jean Renoir, Chabrol’s voice was entirely and assuredly his own, influencing in turn filmmakers like Bong Joon-ho, James Gray and Dominik Moll. His amused, unblinkered view of life and refusal to judge his characters makes his films timelessly relevant and accessible to all.
Dark, witty, ruthless, mischievous: if you’ve never seen Chabrol before, you’re in for a treat.
Titles Include: Cop au vin, Madame Bovary (1991), The Swindle.
Feb 24: King of Karate: The Sonny Chiba Collection
February 24 hits it off with King of Karate: The Sonny Chiba Collection (UK/IRE/US/CA).
Put up your dukes and prepare yourselves for brutal and lightning-fast martial arts action starring the King of Karate: Sonny Chiba.
Whether you’ve only heard of Sonny through Clarence and Alabama’s True Romance triple-bill, have seen him sword-making for The Bride in Kill Bill, or know Shinichi Chiba from way back in the 70s martial arts boom where his lethal mastery of karate, judo and kenpo made him an in-demand anti-hero to legions of fans, there’s plenty of bruising bad-assery to be had in King of Karate: The Sonny Chiba Collection.
Titles Include: The Street Fighter, Wolf Guy, Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Hiroshima Death Match.
Feb 28: Millionaires’ Express
February 28 closes out the shortest month of the year with Millionaires’ Express (US/CA).
All aboard for the all-star action-packed adventure of a lifetime as martial arts maestro Sammo Hung (Heart of Dragon) brings East and West crashing spectacularly together in Millionaires’ Express!
Sammo himself plays Ching Fong-tin, a former outlaw with a wild scheme to make amends with the citizens of his struggling hometown of Hon Sui: explosively derail a brand new luxury express train en route from Shanghai so that its super-rich passengers will have no choice but to spend money in the town. He’s not the only one with eyes on the passengers’ deep pockets, however; a gang of ruthless bank-robbing bandits are on the way, looking for a priceless map being guarded by a trio of Japanese samurai. Bullets and fists will fill the air in equal measure, but will Hon Sui Town be left standing?
Head over to ARROW to start watching now.
Subscriptions are available for $6.99 monthly or $69.99 yearly.
ARROW is available in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland on the following Apps/devices: Roku (all Roku sticks, boxes, devices, etc), Apple TV & iOS devices, Samsung TVs, Android TV and mobile devices, Fire TV (all Amazon Fire TV Sticks, boxes, etc), and on all web browsers at https://www.arrow-player.com.
ARROWEssentials curates collections based on genre, decades and themes; and ARROWStories takes a fresh look at the world of film and TV with exclusive documentaries, interviews and video essays diving deeper into the many curated seasons and titles on the platform for a richer and deeper viewing experience.
With a slickly designed and user-friendly interface, and an unparalleled roster of quality content from westerns to giallo to Asian cinema, trailers, Midnight Movies, filmmaker picks and much, much more, ARROW is the place to go for the very best in on-demand entertainment.
ARROW is also home to ARROW Stories – an ever-growing collection of interviews, trailers, documentaries and additional extras, both newly created exclusives for the service and from the company’s extensive archives. The service will be updated regularly with fresh content, new curation focuses and never-before-seen content, all selected by the ARROW team as well as the filmmakers themselves. With a slickly designed and user-friendly interface ARROW is the new alternative place to go for the very best in On-Demand entertainment.
Be on the look-out because in the coming months, ARROW will be adding Oscar-winning hits, European classics, Asian cinema masterworks, rediscovered Westerns, offbeat gems and much more as part of ARROW’s international strategy to support and celebrate the medium of film.
Dahmer, The Good Boy Box
I think if it were possible to awkward someone to death, Dahmer never would have had to use any other weapon. Because if episode four is any indication, the man was a walking personification of awkwardness.
We start this episode with Dahmer talking with the police detectives after his arrest. He doesn’t seem to have any issue laying everything out for them, starting with the murder of the hitchhiker from the last episode. He’s seeing a psychiatrist, which feels overdue. And the psychiatrist is bringing back some memories. Starting with his graduation from high school.
A few days after graduation, Lionel Dahmer finally decides to look in on his family. He comes home to find no one but Jeff there, drunk and scribbling out the faces of his classmates from his yearbook.
After taking some time to blame Joyce, Lionel sets himself to the task of fixing his son. He first sends Jeff to Ohio State. Within a semester, Jeff is expelled with a GPA of .45. So, Lionel sends him to the army. And for about a year, that seems to work out. Jeff goes through basic training and everything is fine. But then, he’s discharged.
It’s not outright said in the show why Dahmer was discharged. He later tells a woman that it was because of his drinking. But he lies and gives half-truths to everyone without any remorse. So there’s no way of knowing.
Finally, we pick back up where we left off a few episodes ago, with Jeff’s grandmother finding the stolen mannequin in his bed. She throws it away, and he starts to unravel.
He goes to a state fair and gets arrested for masturbating in public.
Honestly, there are a lot of masturbation scenes in this episode and the last. Probably more than we needed.
Every time Jeff seems to get some sort of handle on his life, he manages to mess it up. He loses jobs and starts drugging men at bars. Finally, he finds himself in bed with the body of a beautiful young man he brought home the night before.
I liked this episode. It was a deeply disturbing portrait of a mentally ill young man trying and failing to get himself together. It’s easy to feel bad for Dahmer. To feel like there should have been a way to save him from himself.
And there should have been, to be clear. Dahmer was throwing up enough red flags early enough that someone should have been able to do something.
And yet, nobody did until seventeen men were dead. It does make you wonder if it would have gone on so long if Dahmer hadn’t preyed on gay men. If he hadn’t been a white man. And maybe it should make us wonder that.
I’m sure this point will be made clear to us as we watch the second half of the season.(4 / 5)
Gaming3 years ago
Parasite Eve II • Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell
Gaming3 years ago
Luigi’s Mansion • Who you gonna call?
Gaming3 years ago
Resident Evil 2 (2019) • MR X GON’ GIVE IT TO YA
Gaming3 years ago
Slender: The Eight Pages • An exercise in futility
Gaming3 years ago
Bloodborne • Transfusing elements of action and horror
Movies n TV3 years ago
Review: Ashwin Saravanan’s “Game Over” is अद्भुत
Gaming3 years ago
Resident Evil 3 (2020) • Nemesis Doesn’t Get the Stars He Was After
Breaking News4 weeks ago
Coming to Shudder and AMC+ for January 2023