Look just because Halloween is over doesn’t mean we still can’t have some spooky fun right? Cool! So let’s talk a little about monster genealogy. You didn’t know this was a thing? Well neither did I until I saw the movie The Monster Club (1981). It stars the great Vincent Price as a pleasant elderly vampire named Eramus. John Carradine (the patriarch of the famous Carradine family) plays Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes a successful horror writer.
Ronald is bitten by Eramus in a lonely street corner. When he awakens he is not angry about the bite but wants to go on his way. Eramus tells him that he’d like to repay him for his generosity (for his blood). He tells Ronald he’d like to take him to a place where all monsters gather. There he can find vampires, ghouls and goblins of all sorts and he will hear tales so frightening that his toes will curl and his hair will stand on end! The club he’s referring to is called “The Monster Club“.
Now don’t be turned off when you see the monsters in this club. Obviously the creators of the film spent no money at all on elaborate costumes. Instead you’ll see horrible looking monsters wearing masks that look like they were purchased at some discount store. I mean they are truly terrible. It actually looks just like a Halloween dance party video from the 80s. The music performed by the bands is pretty cool and all relate to monsters in some way. Give it some time to get to the story where Eramus begins to explain all about monsters. He singles out a poster on the wall that explains the monsters genealogy which is a really unique concept.
Aren’t those drawings creepy good? I love them. Let me sort of explain this chart the way Eramus did. First of all there are the primary monsters like Vampires, Werewolves, and Ghouls. The following are what you get when certain monster types mate.
- Vampire + Werewolf = Werevamp
- Werewolf + Ghoul = Weregoo
- Vampire + Ghoul = Vamgoo
Are you all with me so far? Good cause here is where it’s going to get really confusing.
- Weregoo + Werevamp = Shaddy
- Weregoo + Vamgoo = Maddy
- Werevamp + Vamgoo = Raddy
We are almost done! The final monster breakdown.
- Shaddy + Raddy or Maddy = Mock (which is just a polite name for a mongrel)
As Vincent Price’s character Eramus explains, the genealogy is all based on the following basic rules of monsterdom:
- Vampires suck
- Werewolves hunt
- Ghouls tear
- Shaddys lick
- Maddys yawn
- Mocks flow
- Shadmocks whistle
Wait…what the heck is a shadmock and how can its whistle be so terrible?
- Mock + any other hybrid = Shadmock
Tale of the Shadmock
Although a Shadmock is the lowest in the monster hierarchy, it has a powerful whistle. Eramus begins the first of three terrible tales. The first is a sad tale of a Shadmock who is incredibly rich but very alone. Because of his appearance he has trouble hiring any help. A secretary shows up at his Gothic mansion to inquire about the position but after she meets him and he reveals his face she is horrified and leaves immediately. It’s a little sad because the poor guy doesn’t look all that bad (well…for a dead person).
What the Shadmock doesn’t know is that the woman is in cahoots with her partner to swindle money and items from his fortune. Her boyfriend persuades her to return and accept the job. Her stay at the mansion is pleasant, the work is easy and lo-and-behold the Shadmock appears to be developing feelings for her. Lucky girl! He surrounds her with floral arrangements and tries sheepishly to tell her how he feels. She plays along in order to get closer to his fortune.
Poor Shadmock! His only friends are a group of pigeons that gather near a statue in his yard. He feeds them daily and seems to really cherish their friendship. Lurking from across the way is a fat orange cat (not Garfield) eyeing it’s next meal. When the Shadmock isn’t looking the cat gets a hold of a pigeon and quickly devours it. The Shadmock returns to see the dead pigeon and is heartbroken. He sees the cat and with tears in his eyes begins to pucker his lips to whistle. Suddenly a shrill loud screeching is heard throughout the mansion. The secretary hears it and is frightened. In no time at all the Shadmock gets enough courage to ask his secretary to marry him. When she reveals what’s happened to her boyfriend he continues to urge her to go along with it until she can get the combination to his safe.
She accepts the marriage proposal and is invited to meet his relatives at a masquerade ball. He is a charming host and introduces her with pride. As the dance progresses she slips away to unlock the safe. Shadmock follows her and sadly tells her that he cares not about the money but only wants her to love him. Finally the secretary reveals how she is terrified of him and could never love him. He is crushed. She had lied to him all this time and as a result…you guessed it! Get ready for the whistle!
Tale of the ViCount
The second tale in the movie is about a young boy named Lintom who is a natural target for bullying by his classmates because he is quiet and shy. He’s a solemn kid probably because of the daily torture he endures at school. At home he asks his father why he must work at night and is never around during the day. His father just tells him he has a special profession that requires it. He gives subtle hints about what he does without ever fully revealing it to his son. All he says is beware of strange men carrying small violin cases.
So off to school he goes again to get picked on. I’ll be honest here. I never liked this story when I watched it because the kid was so weakly and pathetic. It was just hard for me to feel sorry for this kid. In any case his mom explains to him that because his father is a Count, she is a Countess, and he is a ViCount. Well, the kids at school are besides themselves with this new fuel to pick on him with. As he’s about to be pummeled to death by the school kids he is rescued by the school priest played by Donald Pleasance. If you don’t remember he was Dr. Loomis from the classic film Halloween. Lintom reveals a little about his father to the priest.
One day while Lintom’s mother is out shopping the priest and three men with violin cases visit his house demanding to see Lintom’s father. They force Lintom to take them to the basement where his father sleeps. (I think by now your correct in assuming his father is a vampire)! They open their violin cases and take a stake and hammer to kill the Count. Just then, Lintom’s mother walks in and screams. It is too late, the stake goes through the heart and the men seem pleased with their success. Just then the count rises and bites the neck of Donald Pleasance.
Well now the men with the violin cases turn on him because he is now a vampire. He tries to plead and resist but his fate is the same. Stake through the heart. After they leave, mother and son return to the basement to see the Count. To their surprise he rises, pulls the stake out and says he wore a stake proof vest filled with tomato ketchup. It’s a lightly humorous tale, with a lot of violin playing in the background.
Tale of the Humegoo
After another musical intermission Rondald asks about the last picture on the monster genealogy chart. Eramus explains that a Humegoo is the product of a Human and Ghoul. They are not bad in any way and don’t have any special powers like the others. But the tale he reveals about one such Humegoo is the best of the three!
Now this girl doesn’t look like a monster at all does she? Her clothing style might be a bit dated but you can’t hold that against her. After all she lives in a small village of creepy people who seem to dig up the dead for food. She is a Humegoo, the product of a Human and Ghoul. A movie director took a drive in the London countryside to look for a good location to shoot his film. Well he couldn’t have found a better spot. This little town only has a church, graveyard, and motel. Everyone in the town is more than just odd as he soon finds out. When he tries to leave he realizes they don’t want to let him go. Instead they urge him to wait for “The Elders” to arrive.
He finds refuge from the weirdo townspeople in the motel room. This Humegoo visits him to bring him something to eat. She explains to him how things are done in this town. First of all no one ever leaves. Well except the mysterious “Elders”. Basically the people get all their food and clothes from boxes. That’s right, boxes… that come from the ground might I add. The movie director looks out of his musty motel room window and sees the grave sites have all been dug up and are empty. He realizes that if he stays there much longer he might be their next meal.
The Humegoo is kind spirited and offers to help him. She point out that the people can’t go into the church so he heads over there immediately. Inside the church he finds a book and reads from it. The pictures are awesome and the story is so good I have to cover it fully in another post that you can read here. The bottom line is, the original people in the town took in a strange creature, tried to care for it but found out it was evil. It killed and ate everyone and more of its kind populated the town and preyed on them until there were no humans left. This is pretty bad news for the movie director.
The Humegoo risks everything to try to help the movie director escape. She wants to see the outside world and wear pretty dresses like her mom did. Together they attempt to escape barely making it past the creepy townspeople. I’d be running too if people in any town looked like that!
Together they run to the edge of town and see a thick cloud of smoke blocking the road. It’s the same smoke the movie director originally drove through when he stumbled upon this weird place. The two of them quickly run through the smoke and emerge on the other side. The ghouls on the other side cannot pass through the smoke so they begin throwing stones. A rock hits the Humegoo on the back of the head and she immediately collapses. She says her final goodbyes to the movie director but there is nothing he can do to save her. All he wants to do is get as far away from this place as possible. He makes it to the main highway and flags down a car to help him. Thank god! It’s a police car. He tries to explain the story and the puzzled policeman tells him to get in. The movie director thinks it’s all over until he notices the police car changes direction on the highway and heads back down the lonely road that leads back to the scary town. As the policeman explains, he is just an escort for “The Elders” who are following in the vehicles behind him. Oh damn. Movie director is screwed! Lunch anyone?
At the end of the Humegoo tale, Ronald is ready to leave the Monster Club. Eramus urges him not to go and offers him membership at the club. Ronald says “But I’m not a monster!”. To which Eramus replies, “Nonsense, your the greatest monsters of them all.” The other monster members of the club don’t like this idea and reply “but what can he do?” To which Eramus answers the reality of how terrible humans can be. Extermination of their own kind, genocide, guns, tanks, bombs, airplanes, poison gas, daggers and swords, submarines, nuclear power…you get the idea. Human, the true monster? Well after that little delivery from Eramus (Vincent Price) the monsters immediately realize the talent humans have for being monstrous and accept Eramus’s proposal to admit this human into the Monster Club. This is a great movie that is definitely under appreciated. I suggest if you get the chance watch it and you may learn a thing or two about monsters!