Wednesday, October 10, 2007

THAT WAS OUR SHORT SUBJECT -- AND NOW FOR OUR MAIN FEATURE. What better follow-up to our viewing of "FLIP" could there be than the full length Rankin/Bass stop motion classic "MAD MONSTER PARTY"? Rankin/Bass, the folks who brought us "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and countless other Christmas perennials ventures this once into the Halloween holiday and it's a lot of fun, I've gotta tell ya! This movie was almost impossible to see for decades; before I can remember seeing this broadcast on TV a grand total of once from the 70's to the 90's. But thankfully it was released on DVD several years back (in a beautiful print)!
Dr. Frankenstein (voiced by the King: Boris Karloff) has decided to retire as leader of the monster community. Therefore, he summons all the monsters to his island hideaway to choose a successor. Frankenstein's Monster and his mate (voiced by Phyllis Diller) are also living on the island, natch -- as well as a ghoulish little Peter Lorre-type character. All the famous monsters (Dracula, The Wolfman, The Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Mummy, etc.) make there way to the island as the main credits run (accompanied by an incredibly James Bond-like title song sung in the Shirley Bassey style); this sequence is just terrific. Once the monsters arrive on the island, all mayhem breaks loose as the fiends vie for the top position. Also arriving on the island is Dr. Frankenstein's only "human" relation Felix; a bespectacled nebbish who works in a pharmacy (think of Hermey in "Rudolph" who wanted to be a dentist. . .). There's also a va-va-va-voom redhead named Francesca who spends most of the movie double-crossing somebody or other. And, of course, another priceless highlight is the dinner party where a rock band of skeletons perform "Do The Mummy"! This song should be on EVERY monster's ipod! Many of the character voices are performed by famed "Man of 1000 Voices" Paul Frees -- and what would a Rankin/Bass special be without him?!?
"Mad Monster Party" is every bit as fun and nostalgic as all those other Rankin/Bass Christmas specials -- only this one is movie length which sort of makes up for the fact that it was Rankin/Bass's only Halloweeny-type film. Watching this just makes me wanna grab my pillow case and go out trick-or-treating!
It's also startling to note that an apparent remake of "Mad Monster Party" is in production and slated to be released sometime in 2008. I simply can't hazard a guess whether this is a piece of news to celebrate or condemn. Time will tell.

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