Mad Monster Party
Studio: Anchor Bay
Film Length: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Full Frame
Amongst the pile of new released that Anchor
Bay sent me this week is a little title called
Mad Monster Party, an animagic feature
movie from the Rankin-Bass team that brought us
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty
As most of us who grew up with the claymation
of Rankin-Bass know, there seems to be an instant
draw to the creative magic that this team brought
to television screens everywhere. This was a title
I had never heard of, so I immediately set out to
gather a little information about it before I
watched the film.
Mad Monster Party was Rankin Bass' full
length feature film released in 1968 featuring
classic movie monsters in puppet form as designed
by top "Mad" Magazine artist Jack Harris. At the
time, "animagic" was the hottest stop-motion medium.
Mad Monster Party was a result of a three
picture deal signed between Embassy Pictures and
Videocraft International. Featuring the voices of
Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller, the film was
released to theaters as a kiddie film, and had
a limited run on local television stations for
years after. A home video release was available
in the 1980's but has long been discontinued. As
a result of neglect, the original film negative was
damaged beyond restoration and it became another
one of those rising number of films whose existence
was on the verge of extinction.
Fortunately, it seems there had been quite a
bit of campaigning (most internet based) for
someone to step up to the plate and restore the
film. The result is this brand new DVD that has
been restored from the original 35mm elements.
The story begins with Baron Von Frankenstein
(Boris Karloff) successfully creating the means to
destroy manner. To celebrate, he throws a huge
MONSTER PARTY inviting all his friends who include
Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Invisible
Man, The Hunchback and Dr. Jeckyle/Mr. Hyde.
Somewhere across America a mailman delivers an
invitation to one Felix Flanken, a nerdy lunch
counter clerk at a drug store. It's an invitation
to the party -- but the question is asked, why
should HE receive such an invitation?
It turns out that Felix is the nephew of Baron
Von Frankenstein, who has decided he is retiring
and wants to pass along his legacy to the boy,
including all his secret plans. This outrages
Francesca and Dracula who plot to do away
with the young nephew.
Intertwined with musical numbers, Mad Monster
Party seems like something I would have really
enjoyed as a kid, but as an adult I found it hard
to sit through. The corny dialogue and silly story
failed to charm me as Rudolph and Frosty
did so many years ago.
How is the transfer?
Mad Monster Party is presented in full
Essentially, the transfer looks very good. For
a film that was on the verge of extinction, the
print looks flawless. Image is smooth with no
blemishes. Colors look wonderful, often vividly
bright -- especially the red of Francesca's hair
or Phyllis Diller's gloves.
The English mono soundtrack is very clean and
robust with no sign of background hiss.
I do want to complain that there are absolutely
no subtitles available on this DVD, which I think
is very insulting to the hearing impaired. Why
are DVDs still produced without subtitles?
Before you even unpop the disc from its casing
you will not be able to help but notice the
wonderful booklet enclosed inside. Mad Monster
Party: The complete history of the classic
Rankin/Bass Theatrical Release gives you a
thorough history of how the film went from a
signed picture deal to becoming a sort of cult
classic. There are plenty of pictures, publicity
stills and conceptual drawings inside. This is
the sort of stuff that will make a fan's mouth
drop wide open.
The menu structure is sort of cool, offering
tiny bits of animation as you make your selection,
including little text blurbs that appear as you
move your remote over a particular function. All
this is supplemented with cool music from the
film, including the film's MAD MAD title score
sung by Ethel Ennis.
A Poster & Still Gallery offers a few dozen
publicity stills, conceptual drawings, magazine
covers and even photos of the toys that were inspired
by the film.
A Production Art Gallery contains less
than 20 conceptual drawings of the characters.
Finally, the film's short original theatrical
trailer is included.
You know, I can understand this film's target
audience, and had I seen this film almost 30
years ago, I would be the joining that audience
as first on line to purchase this title.
As an adult, however, I found this movie far
too silly and difficult to sit through. It has
all the characteristics of Rudolph and
Frosty, but lacks any of the charm of
those productions. Perhaps this feature is just
too long in the tooth, or perhaps its the
unmemorable songs that fall a little too flat.
Nonetheless, fans who have been patiently
waiting for this title's release are going to
be VERY happy with the quality of this DVD.
Release Date: NOW