Monday, May 12, 2008

The Shadmock

Wonder not why your hair stiffly bristles,
just abandon all hope when the shadmock whistles.

Lately I've been reading and enjoying the hell out of The Mammoth Book of Monsters edited by Stephen Jones. It's roughly 500 pages of short horror stories from a variety of authors, with each tale containing some sort of monster. What's not to like? A nice little surprise was the inclusion of "The Shadmock" by late British horror writer R. Chetwynd-Hayes. I knew the story from its adaptation as part of The Monster Club, a 1980 horror flick noteworthy for containing Vincent Price's only portrayal of a vampire and being the last gasp of a cycle of horror anthology films that included the likes of Tales From the Crypt and The House That Dripped Blood.

Both the film and short story explain that years of interbreeding by various creatures of the night has resulted in some new variations, including shaddies mocks, and maddies, and if a mock and a maddy marry their offspring will be a shadmock. To summarize, vampires sup, werewolves hunt, ghouls tear, shaddies lick, maddies yawn, mocks blow, shadmocks only whistle.

Interestingly, other than featuring a shadmock and making the reader or viewer wonder exactly what sort of devastation might be wrought if this guy were to forget himself and start whistling "Smoke on the Water," the story and film adaptation have practically nothing in common. In the film our shadmock is a wealthy pigeon loving recluse named Raven, with a young couple named George and Angela attempting to swindle him out of his fortune. Angela attempts to woo Raven, but when she loses her temper and tells him how his corpse-like visage disgusts her, he lets loose with a whistle that essentially liquifies much of her skin.

In the original story, our shadmock is a servant rather than a millionaire. Sheridan and Caroline, a married couple have purchased an estate in a remote area of the English countryside. The mansion comes with a family of servants who have lived there all their lives, and they include an elderly shaddy, a mock, a maddy as well as the offspring of the last two, a handsome young shadmock named Marvin. Caroline takes a fancy to Marvin who also has eyes for Caroline despite the fact that once they've removed Sheridan's soul and made him a creature of the night like them, they plan to drain Caroline of her bodily fluids and use her remains to fertilize Marvin's garden. Even Marvin's own family is careful not to upset him, as shadmock's have a tendency to whistle when angered, but in an attempt to save Caroline he turns his ability on his own family with devastating results.

The story is a great read, written in a reserved British style, and has more substance than the filmed version, though the movie is still worth seeing as well. All three of the film's stories are based on the works of R. Chetwynd-Hayes, with the story that features a Humghoul (another product of monstrous interbreeding) being the high point. Have a look at the trailer:


mad said...

Hey great, I'm a fan of the under-mentioned and barely known 'Shadmock' as well. In fact, I'm writing an inclusion for him in my horror blog as we speak. Maybe you'll take a look sometime. It's just getting started though.


Anonymous said...

The story of "The Shadmock" in "The Monster Club" isn't based on the short story "The Shadmock", it's a lot closer in concept to "The Mock", which concerns a wealthy young Mock, discovering his true lineage as a monster, throwing a party for his recently revived father and inviting a human woman who had spurned his advances.

It ends with him taking a revenge on her (for her cruelty) which is very similar to the end of "The Shadmock" in the movie.

They made the Mock a Shadmock for the movie because the whistle works a lot better on screen than simply blowing would do.

Thomas L. Vaultonburg said...

Thanks for this review. I'm looking for a first printing of The Monster Club online. The Shadmock is one of my favorite movie monsters

Henry Wolfsburg said...

I have a Shadmock blog now

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