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.