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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: "Mad Monster Party" (with screenshots)



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#1 of 16 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted July 09 2002 - 07:23 AM

Posted Image

Mad Monster Party






Studio: Anchor Bay
Year: 1967
Rated: NR
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
The Snowman
.

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.

Posted Image

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.

Posted Image

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.

Posted Image

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?

Posted Image

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
frame.

Posted Image

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?


Special Features


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.

Posted ImagePosted Image


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.

Posted Image

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.

Posted Image

A Production Art Gallery contains less
than 20 conceptual drawings of the characters.

Finally, the film's short original theatrical
trailer
is included.


Final Thoughts


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

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 16 OFFLINE   Michael St. Clair

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Posted July 09 2002 - 08:20 AM

It's actually not claymation, but it is stop-motion. Notice that 'Frankenstein' is called 'Fang', and 'The Creature from the Black Lagoon' is 'The Creature'. These characters, as portrayed, were far too close to the Universal Studios properties to also use their proper names. Jack Davis did the character designs, but don't forget that the inimitable Harvey Kurtzman helped with the script. Surely not his best work, though. The plot drags on too long, and many of the scenes drag as well. But the movie is still fun for camp value and the designs, animations, and some of the gags (and even songs). I've got a tape of this and it is a HIT at parties as ambient video. And I don't think you'll find this much alcohol abuse, sexual undertones, and catfights in anything made 'for kids' these days.

#3 of 16 OFFLINE   Randy A Salas

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Posted July 09 2002 - 11:42 AM

[quote] Release Date: NOW [quote]

Ron, Mad Monster Party is not yet available, although I believe there have been reports that some stores have broken street dates. It is scheduled for release on July 23, according to Anchor Bay.
Randy A. Salas
DVD Columnist & Feature Writer
Minneapolis Star Tribune daily newspaper

#4 of 16 ONLINE   TonyD

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Posted July 09 2002 - 01:53 PM

i've been waiting for this movie for along time as you can see here.

i second the release date as july 23.
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#5 of 16 OFFLINE   Barry_B_B

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Posted July 10 2002 - 02:53 AM

Ron,

A good review, especially if you'd never seen it as a kid. For someone who did (like me) this is an essential title for the collection. Thanks for bringing it to mind, will be keeping an eye out for the release.Posted Image

#6 of 16 OFFLINE   John Geelan

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Posted August 08 2002 - 05:55 AM

Did anyone pick up MAD MONSTER PARTY this week? Where would the best price be? JohnG
JohnG

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#7 of 16 OFFLINE   Alan Kurland

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Posted August 08 2002 - 08:09 AM

$12.99 at BB. I watched it full through, usually seen on tv with commercials, and 1/2 way through. Its a very strange movie. The stop-motion is disconcerting on large screen. The plot drags and is silly. Nonetheless, an enjoyable camp movie.

#8 of 16 OFFLINE   Malcolm R

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Posted August 17 2002 - 05:13 PM

Found this Easter Egg info on another website:

[quote], that were released as part of a three picture deal made with Joseph E. Levine. These films will also be released on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment.
[quote]
Interesting. WWMG is a traditional animated feature, while Daydreamer seems to be a mix of live action and "animagic." Quite a cast, too, in Daydreamer: Ray Bolger, Margaret Hamilton, Boris Karloff, Hayley Mills, Victor Borge, Tallulah Bankhead, Patty Duke, and others.
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#9 of 16 OFFLINE   TomJD

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Posted August 18 2002 - 12:05 AM

K Mart offers an exclusive "Mad Monster Party" Collectible Postcard set of 4 included in their DVDS.Very nice cards.Their price is $14.99.

#10 of 16 OFFLINE   Brandon Gantt

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Posted October 08 2002 - 07:29 AM

Well, since it's that time of the year, I'll be picking this up for Allhallows Eve.

#11 of 16 ONLINE   TonyD

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Posted September 23 2005 - 05:22 PM

rebringing this review up.

this dvd seems to have been given a re-issue.
this time with snappier art, with halloween orange colors and a slip ccover.

looks like the same features though minus the 24 page booklet.

there also seems to be a remake in the works.

http://imdb.com/title/tt0473058/
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#12 of 16 OFFLINE   ScottR

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Posted September 23 2005 - 05:27 PM

If anyone has gotten this reissue, can you tell me if the "YEAH" is added back to the film at the end...it was accidentally left off of the original release. It's a minor thing, but it did add to the groovy feel of the original.

#13 of 16 ONLINE   TonyD

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Posted September 23 2005 - 05:59 PM

it looks like just a repackage of the old dvd.
i'll be getting it tommorrow so i can check then.

scott were at the end is the yeah supposed to be.

ok thisseems to confirm as just a re-issue.
from rankinbass.com

http://www.rankinbas...m/news0805.html

"appears that Anchor Bay Entertainment has reissued one of our R/B favorites on DVD with a new cover!"
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#14 of 16 OFFLINE   JerryKILL

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Posted September 24 2005 - 01:22 AM

Could be a re-issue to tie into The Corpse Bride, which obviously was influenced by Mad Monster Party. As an avid Rankin-Bass fan, I'm hoping that someone (Anchor Bay???) will release the other R/B feature film Willie McBean & His Magic Machine to DVD. Soon.
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#15 of 16 OFFLINE   ScottR

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Posted September 24 2005 - 05:30 AM

When The End title card came up, after the last note of music there is supposed to be a "YEAH!"

#16 of 16 OFFLINE   David Stone

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Posted September 24 2005 - 10:48 AM

I'll go look for it on the shelves tomorrow, but if it's just a re-issue with new cover art then they missed a great opportunity to add sub-titles.
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