Friday, October 8, 2010

Mad Monster Party (1967)

Now here's a little Halloween tidbit that is cool, and also can be shared with the younger generation. Often those two things don't go hand in hand. First off, I would like to ask if anyone that has grown up in the continental United States has ever heard of Mad Monster Party before? I only ask that specific question because before I met my now wife, she introduced me to this and I had never even heard of it before. I also ask the question like that because she grew up in Hawaii and was introduced to a whole range of things, including Japanese cartoons, that never quite made it to the mainland U.S. Mad Monster Party seems to be one of those things, even though it was done by Rankin-Bass, the same people, of course, that brought us the holiday classic, Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It's done in that same style, they call it "animagic", but you, know with the puppets and the stop motion animation.

Anyway, like I mentioned, I had never heard of Mad Monster Party before, but she tells me she watched it in Hawaii, and it has become one of her favorites. For very good reason. Its so weird, and so amazing, and even features the voices of both Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller.

So basically, its about Baron von Frankenstein who decides to retire and leave the "monster business" to his nephew who is a real nerd. So he plans to hold this convention, or party, of monsters, to announce his decision. But, here's the thing, his nephew isn't good at the whole monster deal, and he proves to be too much of a kindhearted human, all the monsters start to plot to eliminate him so they can run the monster business, and ti gain control of Frankenstein's latest discovery: the secret to total destruction!

It's interesting too because obviously they are using some characters that can safely be said to be available to the public realm, and others that have been copyrighted. For instance, The Werewolf instead of the Wolfman, which is obviously a Universal property. And, this is sort of a spoiler, but later in the movie, IT shows up, which really just a big gorilla like King Kong. Also there is monster there that is definitely a take off on The Creature From The Black Lagoon but he is referred to as something different too. (Sorry, I can't remember what they called him and I can't seem to find it anywhere.)

So, its strange, and surreal. And its also a musical (obviously). Admittedly, some of the songs seems sort of shoehorned into the plot, but thats okay since they are mostly pretty great.

So, to me this is really a lost little gem. And did I mention weird? Spoiler alert here, but what other ostensible kids movie basically ends with a huge explosion where most everyone dies? Its an odd little artifact, but its worth seeking out because its so much fun, at least to me. Seek it out now because according to Wikipedia they plan to ruin it by doing a CGI remake. But on the other hand they are making a play out of it that is going to be opening in West London, at the Noel Coward theatre no less. Now there's something that might get me into the theatre.


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