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

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Jul 9, 2002.

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  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]

    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.
    [​IMG]
    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.
    [​IMG]
    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.
    [​IMG]
    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?
    [​IMG]
    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.
    [​IMG]
    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.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    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.
    [​IMG]
    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.
    [​IMG]
    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
     
  2. Michael St. Clair

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    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. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

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  4. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    i've been waiting for this movie for along time as you can see here.
    i second the release date as july 23.
     
  5. Barry_B_B

    Barry_B_B Second Unit

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    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.[​IMG]
     
  6. John Geelan

    John Geelan Screenwriter

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    Did anyone pick up MAD MONSTER PARTY this week?

    Where would the best price be?

    JohnG
     
  7. Alan Kurland

    Alan Kurland Stunt Coordinator

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    $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. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Found this Easter Egg info on another website:

     
  9. TomJD

    TomJD Agent

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    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. Brandon Gantt

    Brandon Gantt Second Unit

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

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    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/
     
  12. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    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. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    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.rankinbass.com/news0805.html
    "appears that Anchor Bay Entertainment has reissued one of our R/B favorites on DVD with a new cover!"
     
  14. JerryKILL

    JerryKILL Stunt Coordinator

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    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.
     
  15. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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

    David Stone Stunt Coordinator

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    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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