Mad Monster Party
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|Mad Monster Party|
|Directed by||Jules Bass|
|Produced by||Joseph E. Levine
Arthur Rankin, Jr.
|Written by||Len Korobkin
Arthur Rankin, Jr.
|Music by||Maury Laws|
|Distributed by||Embassy Pictures (later StudioCanal)|
|Running time||95 minutes|
|This section requires expansion. (December 2012)|
Baron Boris von Frankenstein (Boris Karloff) achieves his ultimate ambition, the secret of total destruction. Having achieved this, he sends out bats with messages to summon all monsters to his island to inform them of this discovery, and to inform them as well that he is retiring as the head of the Worldwide Organization of Monsters.
His assistant, Francesca, comes to the lab and tells him that all invitations have been delivered, and wonders who is Felix Flanken. Frankenstein explains that Flanken (Allen Swift, doing a Jimmy Stewart impression), is his only living relative, a nephew, to whom he plans to give the leadership of the monster business. This displeases Francesca who covets the role for herself.
The monsters begin to arrive: they include Frankenstein's Monster and the creature's more intelligent mate (Phyllis Diller), Frankenstein's seductive laboratory assistant Francesca (Gale Garnett, playing the part of femme fatale), Count Dracula, the Werewolf, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, Quasimodo, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, the Mummy, It (a knock-off of King Kong), and many more.
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!
- Boris Karloff as Baron Boris von Frankenstein
- Allen Swift (name in the credits is misspelled as Alan Swift) as Yetch the Zombie Butler, Count Dracula, Felix Flankin, Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Chef Mafia Machiavelli, Mr. Kronkite
- Gale Garnett as Francesca
- Phyllis Diller as the Monster's Mate
- Ethel Ennis sings the opening song/score
The film was created using Rankin/Bass' "Animagic" stop motion animation process. The process involved photographing figurines in still shots and re-positioning them after each shot, the same approach used in Art Clokey's Davey and Goliath and to create the giant ape in the original King Kong. In fact, a Kong-like creature makes a featured appearance in this film, although due to rights issues he is known only as "It." 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. This campy film is a spoof of horror themes, complete with musical numbers and inside jokes.
Mad Magazine creator Harvey Kurtzman penned the script (with another writer, Len Korobkin) and Mad artist Jack Davis designed many of the characters. Davis was a natural for the job, being famous both for his humor work and his monster stories in the pages of EC Comics. It has long been rumored that Forrest J. Ackerman had a hand in the script, but while the dialogue is rife with Famous Monsters of Filmland-like puns, Ackerman's involvement has never been confirmed and his name never appeared in the on-screen credits or in original promotion for the film at the time of its release. In fact, Rankin/Bass historian Rick Goldschmidt, in liner notes accompanying the Anchor Bay DVD release, denied Ackerman was ever involved, at the same time as the DVD packaging promoted Ackerman's name. Goldschmidt repeated this on this in a 2006 blog entry, based on his interviews with Korobkin, who claimed to have written the original screenplay which then was revised by Kurtzman, but never worked with Ackerman.
Although mostly intended as a children's film, the film does feature some of Kurtzman's typically dark humor and a few mildly risqué jokes: Francesca falls over in one scene, and when Felix struggles to lift her she says, "I wanted you to know I'm no easy pick-up." In another scene, a character briefly has his head replaced with a cooked pig's ... and a "kids' picture" ending with a mushroom cloud would have been a bold move at the time.
The stop motion cute/ghastly look of the creatures in this film was very influential on Tim Burton's Vincent, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride; in particular, Burton creations strongly resemble the little monsters seen in the Stay One Step Ahead number.
In addition to the famous monsters seen in the film, 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.
Mad Monster Party was one of several child-friendly projects Karloff lent his voice to in his final years (such as the TV adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas). It was his final involvement in a production connected to the Frankenstein mythos that had propelled him to stardom some 36 years earlier.
In 1972, Rankin/Bass produced a sequel of sorts, with the TV special Mad Mad Mad Monsters which aired on September 23, 1972 as part of The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie. This Halloween special featured many of the same monster characters. Bob McFadden did his imitation of Boris Karloff when voicing Baron Boris von Frankenstein. Although it presumably was not intended as a direct sequel since many of these characters perished at the end of Mad Monster Party and is most likely a prequel. Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters was created using cel animation, rather than stop-motion. While Mad Monster Party still enjoys an ardent cult following, it has fallen into comparative obscurity.
Mad Mad Mad Monsters was released on DVD July 12, 2011 from Classic Media.
Home video releases 
The film has been available on video for years, first on original distributor Embassy Pictures' home entertainment unit, and then on other independent labels before StudioCanal acquired some rights to the film. Currently, Lionsgate distributes the film on video under license from StudioCanal.
Before Lionsgate's current video release of Mad Monster Party, almost all video releases have been from 16 mm film and were of very poor color quality. The original film negative was water-damaged some years ago, but recently Sony Pictures Television (which now holds the television rights) unearthed an original 35 mm pristine print. This print was digitally remastered, and is the source for the current DVD issue and all subsequent television showings. Anchor Bay released the previous DVD on August 19, 2003, then re-released it on August 23, 2005 with additional features. On September 8, 2009, it was released as a "Special Edition" DVD by Lionsgate. The special features include a documentary including interviews with Rick Goldschmidt, Arthur Rankin, Jr., voice artist Allen Swift, storyboard artist Don Duga, musical director Maury Laws and others. The film was released on Blu-ray on September 4, 2012.
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. "The Mummy" is allegedly performed by Dyke and the Blazers. Tracks without performer credits are instrumentals and contain no dialogue.
- "The Baron"
- "Mad Monster Party" - Ethel Ennis
- "Waltz for a Witch"
- "The Bash"
- "You're Different" - The Monster's Mate (Phyllis Diller)
- "Jungle Madness"
- "Our Time to Shine" - Francesca (Gale Garnett)
- "Mad Monster Party"
- "The Mummy" - Little Tibia and the Fibias
- "One Step Ahead" - Baron von Frankenstein and Company (Boris Karloff and Company)
- "The Baron Into Battle/Transylvania, All Hail/Pursuit/Requiem for a Loser"
- "Never Was a Love Like Mine" - Francesca (Gale Garnett)
- Rick Goldschmidt's Blogspot site. Are You Sure? December 27, 2006. Retrieved December 11, 2008.
- Mad Monster Party at the Internet Movie Database
- Mad Monster Party at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Mad Monster Party at AllRovi
- Mad Monster Party at Rotten Tomatoes
- Mad Monster Party unofficial site - the only website on the web devoted entirely to this Rankin-Bass classic.
- Rankin-Bass Mad Monster Party site