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Mad Monster Party

10.17.2009

Movie and horror fans are probably starting to get into the spooky season and Halloween spirit with their must-watch films, and while my own list has many of the standards (THE THING, THE EXORCIST, etc.), it's also got a personal fave: MAD MONSTER PARTY.

A Christmas season without those vaguely creepy stop-motion animated Rankin Bass specials of classic holiday stories ("Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", "The Year Without a Santa Claus", etc.) is virtually unavoidable. But they gave a similar treatment to the greatest creatures ever with this lesser-known 1967 special that likely helped inspire Tim Burton's NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS and CORPSE BRIDE.

The story of MAD MONSTER PARTY has Baron Von Frankenstein (voiced by dread veteran Boris Karloff) celebrating his crowning achievement (the ability to blow stuff up with antimatter) by retiring. Dispatching courier bats with invitations to all the variations on the classic monsters, he asks them to his island castle (staffed by zombies, naturally) for a bash where he’ll announce his successor.

The Invisible Man, Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster and his Bride, The Creature, Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde, The Hunchback and The Mummy all attend in the hopes that they’ll be selected to take over the Baron’s work, only to discover he’s giving the ghastly empire to his geeky nephew Felix Flankin. Needless to say, they’re not pleased with the selection and scheme to preemptively usurp him, but he’s too busy romancing the Baron’s beautiful secretary Francesca (who, judging by her breathy voice, red hair and notable bustline, served as a template for Jessica Rabbit).

Rankin-Bass’ loving tribute to all the legendary monsters (designed for the movie by EC Comics artist Jack Davis) and unforgettable moments in the genre’s history is filled with macabre delights and amusing dialogue (Baron: “There was a big pile of leftovers in the kitchen this morning.” Francesca: “I wonder who it was…”). The fiendish fun is all set to a whimsical jazzy lounge-style score and, though nothing’s as memorable as “Put One Foot In Front of the Other” or the Heat Miser song, there are several catchy musical numbers that just haven’t yet had the benefit of annual televised repetition.

Fortunately you can catch the special on DVD. Where the hell else will you see our favorite archival creatures engage in a pie-fight and use a zombie henchman’s head for bowling?

Source: JoBlo

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