Before Hotel Transylvania, Boris Karloff had a mad monster party… or did he since the opening credits add a question mark. This full length Rankin/Bass effort may not get all the holiday cred of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, but it is monstrously fun.
Baron von Frankenstein (Boris Karloff) has discovered the secret of total destruction. He already knew how to create life so he made it his life’s work to discover the opposite. Now that the discovery is in the bag he decides that he’s going to retire.
He has his lab assistant Francesca (Gale Garnett) send out invitations to Dracula, the Werewolf, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Creature (from the Black Lagoon), his monster (all voiced by Allen Swift), and it’s bride (Phyllis Diller). He doesn’t want to invite It, a King Kong sized ape.
He also has her send an invitation to Felix Flanken (Swift again), his nephew. Felix is not evil at all and is rather incompetent, but the Baron is going to name him as his successor. This doesn’t set well with all the other monsters and they plot to get rid of Felix and take the destructive discovery for themselves.
Boris and the recently late Diller are the stars on the marquee, but the real star of the show is certainly Allen Swift. Garnett provides the femme fatale, but Swift provides the voices for every other male character. Each one gets a star impersonation, Felix sounds like Jimmy Stewart, Yetch like Peter Lorre, the Invisible Man like Sidney Greenstreet, and so on.
A vocal star is born in other words. No one was as shocked as Swift who on the documentary below can’t believe that they’ll pay him for doing voices. In those days, the field wasn’t as crowded I suppose. Rankin/Bass had lassoed Christmas with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in 1964 and were looking to corner the Halloween market and every other holiday.
So they went to the lab, threw a team of Japanese animators on the slab, added a little lightening (hoping to strike twice), and Mad Monster Party was “alive, it’s alive.” However, the brain they used as a bit “abby normal” I suppose because Mad Monster Party feels padded. Not that it’s still not a charming creature, but don’t expect Blu-ray to bring the beast back to life.
There is some increase in detail but there is also print damage present, so it’s a mixed bag. A fun bag, but a mixed one.
Mad Monster Party is presented in a 1080p transfer (1.33:1). Special features include the 14 minute “Mad Monster Party? The Making of a Classic,” the 9 minute “It’s Sheer Animagic” about the process used to make the film, the 3 minute “Groovy Ghoul” interview with composer Maury Laws, 4 minutes of Sing-a-Longs, and the 90 second trailer. You also get a DVD copy.
Mad Monster Party(?) is more of a treat than a trick but it could’ve used a tighter running time. It’s always a treat to hear from Unca’ Boris, the deliciously shrill Diller (RIP), and man of many voices Allen Swift.
Blu-ray adds some detail, but also makes some print problems stand out a bit more (the film starts off looking rather poorly with a smutz or tear in the print). Although detail is much improved so you can check out the puppets. The price (currently) is so low that you won’t mind upgrading.
Visit the DVD database for more information.