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Mad Monster Party?

We'll just drop by.

Rod Lott September 13th, 2012

Before Hotel Transylvania, there was Mad Monster Party? (question mark theirs), a 1967 quasi-classic of stop-motion animation from Rankin/Bass — the company behind all those old Christmas specials that still air every year, from Rudolph to Frosty. What keeps this Party from being as perennial is that it's three times as long.


Filmed in "Animagic" and with characters designed and a script by two Mad magazine giants — Jack Davis and Harvey Kurtzman, respectively — the movie got beloved horror icon Boris Karloff to voice mad scientist Dr. Frankenstein, who looks just like the actor. The doc has invited all of moviedom's monsters — y'know, Dracula, the Mummy, the Creature (not from the Black Lagoon, for legal reasons) and so on — to his castle to determine who should take his place.

Also on the guest list is Felix (longtime cartoon actor Allen Swift), an übernerdy store clerk who falls for Dr. F's shapely ginger secretary, Francesca (singer Gale Garnett), who looks like Mad Men's Christina Hendricks as a puppet.

The other "human" character is the Frankenstein monster's bride, played by Phyllis Diller, more or less as Phyllis Diller. (Too soon?) And that's the point where the musical aspect kicks in, and my 7-year-old son immediately lost interest. The film is too lengthy for its own good, and a bonus featurette confirms the creators were forced by the producer to do so.

While the artistry remains solid from start to finish — a painstaking process, as illustrated by another disc extra — the Party simply starts to wear on the viewer. You can only take so many monster puns like Drac’s "Francesca, you were always my type. O negative, was it?" Insert rimshot here. —Rod Lott

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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