Saturday, October 1, 2011

Countdown to Halloween - Mad Monster Party?

Ah, Rankin Bass you glorious mad men how I love this movie. I remember catching part of this at an early age on a Saturday afternoon while I was being force to get ready to go someplace so boring I can't recall and thinking how incredible it was. Then for years nothing, it didn't air on television, VHS was just starting out and the selection of movies were slim...hell I didn't even know the name of the actual film. Then I went to my first Creation convention with my friend Derrick and there at the end of the dealer's room was a table selling autographs and movie stills, taped to one of the boxes was a promotional shot of the monster puppets from the movie and a note saying Mad Monster Party? It would be years later that I found it on VHS and got to see the glory of the full movie. This was the late 80's and a few years before Nightmare Before Christmas would make the scene. It wasn't until the DVD release that I realized how faded and deteriorated the video copy was as the DVD played and the true colors of the monsters and the rich detail of each scene played out..I almost wept.

In the film, Baron von Frankenstein (Boris Karloff) decides to retire, leaving the monster business to his nerdy nephew, Felix Flankin (Allen Swift). Frankenstein plans to announce his decision at a convention of monsters that includes his creature and the creature's more intelligent mate (Phyllis Diller), Frankenstein's seductive laboratory assistant Francesca (Gale Garnett), Dracula, the Werewolf, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, The Mummy and It (a knock-off of King Kong). However when Felix proves to be an incompetent (and unsuitably kind-hearted) human, the monsters plot to eliminate him and gain control of Frankenstein's latest discovery: the secret of total destruction!
The film was created using Rankin/Bass' "Animagic" stop motion animation process. Rankin/Bass had created several stop motion productions before this, spurred by their first, the enormously successful television special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer from 1964. Classic monster movies were enjoying a resurgence in popularity in the late 1960s and humorous monsters like The Addams Family and The Munsters were enormously popular.
Mad Magazine creator Harvey Kurtzman penned the script and Mad artist Jack Davis designed many of the characters. Mad Monster Party also features several celebrity likenesses. Karloff and Diller's characters are both designed to look like the actors portraying them, while Baron Frankenstein's lackey, Yetch, is a physical and vocal caricature of Peter Lorre. Felix, on the other hand, strongly resembles James Stewart vocally but not physically, and Francesca was modelled after Ginger Grant, the voluptuous starlet character played by actress Tina Louise from the Gilligan's Island television series.

Although the opening credits identify Ethel Ennis as singing the opening theme song and, in the same frame, a soundtrack being available on RCA Victor, a commercially-released soundtrack was never produced in any format. In September 1998, Percepto released a CD of the soundtrack for the film. Most tracks are instrumentals and make great background music..well around my tomb they do...
The tracks on the released CD include:
  1. "The Baron"
  2. "Mad Monster Party" - Ethel Ennis
  3. "Waltz for a Witch"
  4. "Cocktails"
  5. "The Bash"
  6. "You're Different" - The Monster's Mate (Phyllis Diller)
  7. "Jungle Madness"
  8. "Our Time to Shine" - Francesca (Gale Garnett)
  9. "Mad Monster Party"
  10. "The Mummy" - Little Tibia and the Fibias (Dyke & the Blazers)
  11. "One Step Ahead" - Baron von Frankenstein and Company (Boris Karloff and Company)
  12. "The Baron Into Battle/Transylvania, All Hail/Pursuit/Requiem for a Loser"
  13. "Never Was a Love Like Mine" - Francesca (Gale Garnett)
  14. "Finale"
Here's a two part making of and enjoy:

In 1972, Rankin/Bass produced a sequel of sorts, with the TV special Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters. This Halloween special featured many of the same monster characters, including an imitation of Karloff as the doctor (he died in 1969), although it presumably was not intended as a direct sequel since many of these characters perished at the end of Mad Monster Party. Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters was created using cel animation, rather than stop-motion.


  1. It's ironic that you mentioned this movie, I just watched it in Netflix yesterday, my first ever viewing. Me and my 2yr old caught it. It was great fun, although I imagine had I caught this film when I was younger it probably would have been more of a favorite. Francesca sure was a hottie though. :) Was glad I decided on it, nice Halloween movie.

  2. I'm going to finally break out my official copy of Mad Mad Mad Monsters this year (I've had a crappy bootleg for a couple years.) It's not quite as fun as the original Stop-Motion, but I still dig it...

  3. Thanks for posting this movie.

    It sure brings back memories.

    Just want to say I love your art. I first saw it on Cafepress years ago and adored it.

  4. Tom, I've never seen this flick. I need to fix that error of my ways ASAP! Good post!


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