Mad Monster Party Reviews
Mad Monster Party has a very interesting voice cast; even though the list of monsters and ghouls was quite expansive, there are only four actors providing principle vocalizations. Boris Karloff loans the croons to his stop-motion alter ego, Professor Frankenstein, inventor and master of all monsters. Phyllis Diller plays, basically, a green version of herself, named The Monster's Mate. Gale Garnett voices Francesca, professor Frankenstein's masterpiece creation; I really wonder what kind of dirty thoughts were going through the old man's head during Francesca's creation, as she is the 1960s equivalent of Jessica Rabbit: red hair, Bond Girl face, and very, very prominent boobs. (Again, another huge departure for Rankin-Bass's team.) But the grand prize in voice-work goes to Allen Swift who must have lost his voice by the end of the recording session; Swift provides the speaking roles and noises to not only the nerdy main protagonist Felix Flankin, (putting on his best Jimmy Stewart imitation,) but every other character in the film including Yetch, Dracula, Werewolf, and even mafia Chef Machievelli!
The songs are catchy and bursting with the decade's free-spirit, particularly the love ballad "Never Was A Love like Mine" sung by Gale Garnett. Also notable is the hilarious "Mummy" rock song performed by four British skeletons in mod haircuts and guitars (hmmmmm...I wonder who they could have been in another life?) "Mad Monster Party" has been a Halloween classic for my family for years and I find it shameful that casual moviegoers haven't embraced it like other ghoul-themed spooktaculars like "Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas."
The only major drawback I had with this film was that several scenes seemed to be pointless "filler" in order to extend the movie's length time from mere television special to full-length feature; Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass' incredible track record of successful, 45-minute holiday specials include, (but is not limited to,) "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," "Jack Frost," "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus," and "Santa Claus is Comin' To Town." A scene trim here or there would have served this film well, particularly in early sequences; (did we really need to see every single monster coming on board the ship, or learn about all the monsters' sleeping habits in the castle?) But these fillers were not as horrendous as the studio's later bore "Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July," which took a 45-minute short and stretched it like taffy into a full-length movie. Overall, this film is a winner, a nice departure for the stop-motion studio, and I hope it will be rediscovered by future generations.
Missed this Rankin & Bass production as a kid, I'm sure it would have had more of an impact, back then.
Doctor Frankenstein is a monster builder that has decided to retire and pass his business on to his nephew. He nephew is an aspiring pharmacist that opts to visit his uncle prior to making his decision. Dracula and Dr. Frankenstein's evil assistants wish to kill the nephew and take over the business instead. Can the nephew overcome Dracula and his minions to earn what is rightfully his?
"You ugly rat."
"Thank you for those kind words. I hope I can live up to them."
Jules Bass, director of The Last Unicorn, Jack Frost, The Hobbit, and The Year Without Santa, delivers Mad Monster Party? The storyline, plot, and premise of this picture are interesting and well delivered. The settings, characters, and storyline keep the audience's imagination flowing for those who are fans of horror pictures and old school classics. The voices are well selected and include Boris Karloff, Phyllis Diller, Gale Garnett, and Allen Swift.
"You're not incredibly handsome or even charming."
This movie aired on the Hallmark channel last Halloween and I couldn't believe I had never heard of a claymation movie that stared Boris Karloff; after watching this movie, I am even more shocked that I had never seen this picture. This movie is on par with the holiday Christmas classics such as The Grinch that Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and Frosty the Snowman. I am shocked this film does not air on one of the major networks every Halloween season. I do strongly recommend seeing this gem.
"What am I not paying you for?"
I like that Mad Monster Party takes a lot of influences from the classic Universal Monster movies. The designs on each of the characters are pretty neat, and among this studio's best. I especially liked the Rolling Stones-like skeleton band that plays during the party that Baron Boris von Frankenstein (Boris Karloff) holds to name his heir. And it was great to see so many familiar monsters (Dracula, Invisible Man, Wolfman, Jekyll & Hyde, The Mummy and Frankenstein's monster) in a film together.
I guess the thing that helps out the Christmas films Rankin and Bass have done is that both the characters and the stories create a sense of familiarity. But with Mad Monster Party the story never clicks with me. The majority of the film feels like a series of random set-ups or gags that don't have much to do with the overall plot of the film. And main character Felix Flankin (Allen Swift) doesn't become an interesting character. He just feels like a lazy rip off of James Stewart.
Another character I didn't care much for was Frankenstein's monster's mate, voiced by Phyllis Diller. Now, I like Phyllis Diller a lot. But I found her to be an irritating addition to this film. And that laugh that she does throughout the film really got on my nerves. Plus, while I like a lot of the songs in the film, "You're Different" was one of the lesser songs of the bunch.
There are some qualities to Mad Monster Party that I do like, but there aren't enough to win me over. I know that this is a cult favorite, and I can see why that is so. I can sit through this film pretty easily, but it's not a film that I'd go out of my way to do so. I wish this film registered better with me, since it has a lot of elements that make it perfect for Halloween viewings.