Sunday, October 31, 2010
Mad Monster Party (1967) review
MAD MONSTER PARTY 1967 (on screen title: MAD MONSTER PARTY?)
Starring: Dr. Frankenstein, Count Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Frankenstein's Monster, The Monster's Bride and a gaggle of other ghouls
Directed by Jules Bass
The Short Version: Frightfully entertaining animated favorite that's the perfect Halloween capper to a night of spooky ghouls and ghosts. Kids both young and young at heart will likely get the most monstrous mileage out of this kooky and altogether ooky creature collage benefiting from the vocal talents of Hollywood favorites, Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller.
Baron Frankenstein sends out invitations for a special kooky convention--The Worldwide Organization of Monsters--a ghastly gathering at the Isle of Evil where he will discuss his retirement and name his monstrous successor. When Freaky Frank decides to give his wealth and secrets to his sole living relative, Felix Flankin, the other monsters are in an uproar as all have designs on the diabolical doctor's new secret of total destruction.
From Rankin-Bass, the same creators of the claymation favorite, RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER, comes the ultimate monster mash. Featuring an assortment of pop cultures most famous creatures, this childhood cult movie favorite is a hugely enjoyable, timeless classic for the monster kid in all of us. In 1967 monsters were still quite the rage and the hopes were that such an enterprise as a creature feature utilizing the "Animagic" process of stop motion animation would guarantee a big hit for the producers which included Joseph E. Levine (SOLDIER BLUE, MY NAME IS TRINITY).
Sadly, this was not the case and the film would only later acrue popularity through airings on television (which is where I saw it the first time). Featuring the voices of both Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller, there's lots to savor here for fans both young and old. Allen Swift did the bulk of the other voices. There's a timeless quality about this movie that will be most appreciated by those who love monster pictures and also those who enjoy animated features. Those with a fondness for the popular RUDOLPH claymation favorite should seek this one out. Fans of Tim Burton will likely enjoy this one as it appears to have been a heavy influence on his NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993).
There's musical numbers (dig them crazy ghouls, Little Tibia & the Fibulas!), an array of classic monsters and other kooky characters accompanied by every haunted house and horror plot device since Universal first became the premiere company of atmospheric terror films. The character of Yetch is modeled after the great character actor, Peter Lorre, and this undead, lovelorn zombie servant constantly loses his head whether for the sultry Francesca, or some comically macabre pratfall.
Apparently, Rankin-Bass had a long time working relationship with Japanese moviemaking technicians. The animators were Japanese and Rankin-Bass would would work with Toho on KING KONG ESCAPES (1967; based on THE KING KONG SHOW) and later collaborate on three live action monster motion pictures--THE LAST DINOSAUR (1977), THE BERMUDA DEPTHS (1978) and THE IVORY APE (1980).
Maybe a tad bit overlong at 95 minutes, it's a triumph of skill in a lost art and a reminder of a time when making movies was more about the magic involved in creating something with ones hands as opposed today where so much is devised with computers. Seldom has their been a more light-hearted, enduring Halloween spectacular, MAD MONSTER PARTY (1967) is one ghastly good time that you can enjoy with the entire family.
This review is representative of the Anchor Bay DVD