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Sometimes I lie awake at night... - A Delightful Journey into Rankin/Bass' Mad Monster Party?

Mad Monster Party? (1967) Do you remember those classic Christmas television specials that have become icons of popular culture? Well, chances are, if you've seen one, you've experienced the whimsical world of Rankin/Bass. From Rudolph...

Mad Monster Party?

Mad Monster Party? (1967)

Do you remember those classic Christmas television specials that have become icons of popular culture? Well, chances are, if you've seen one, you've experienced the whimsical world of Rankin/Bass. From Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to Frosty the Snowman, their stop-motion animation has captured the hearts of millions. But did you know they ventured into the spooky and spine-tingling as well?

Mad Monster Party? Image credit: Mad Monster Party? (1967)

Distributed by Embassy Pictures, Mad Monster Party? is a unique and bizarre comedy that offers a delightful mix of humor, monsters, and mayhem. Directed by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass, this underseen gem takes us into the eccentric world of Baron Boris von Frankenstein and his cast of monstrous characters.

Residing in a castle on the Isle of Evil, Baron Frankenstein, voiced by the legendary Boris Karloff in his final Frankenstein-related work, has just developed a formula that can destroy any matter. As the head of the Worldwide Organization of Monsters, he plans to announce his retirement and reveal his successor. But the arrival of a pharmacist named Felix Flanken turns the party into a hilarious and chaotic affair.

Mad Monster Party? Image credit: Mad Monster Party? (1967)

Despite its limited release and relative obscurity, Mad Monster Party? showcases Rankin/Bass at their most ambitious. With its detailed stop-motion animation and meticulously crafted sets, the film is a visual treat. The character designs, sketched by the talented Jack Davis, bring the monsters to life in a way that only Rankin/Bass can.

But it's not just the visuals that make Mad Monster Party? special. The film's witty screenplay, penned by Len Korobkin and Harvey Kurtzman, offers plenty of comedic moments. The dysfunctional interactions between the monsters, filled with scheming and dry one-liners, add a layer of humor that complements the surreal charm of Rankin/Bass productions.

Mad Monster Party? Image credit: Mad Monster Party? (1967)

As the monsters gather for the party, you might notice some familiar faces with alternate names. Frankenstein's monster becomes "Fang," the Bride of Frankenstein is referred to as "The Monster's Mate," and the Creature from the Black Lagoon simply goes by "The Creature." These clever substitutions, although intended to avoid copyright issues, add an extra layer of fun for eagle-eyed viewers.

And let's not forget the delightful songs scattered throughout the film. Composed by Maury Laws, with lyrics by Jules Bass, these catchy tunes inject energy and whimsy into the story. From the opening number, "Mad Monster Party," sung by Ethel Ennis, to Phyllis Diller's hilarious solo, "You're Different," the songs are sure to bring a smile to your face.

Mad Monster Party? Image credit: Mad Monster Party? (1967)

Now, you might be wondering why Mad Monster Party? isn't as well-known as other Rankin/Bass classics. Well, the film's half-aborted theatrical release played a significant role in its obscurity. However, it did find a second life as a holiday special on select American television stations. Even to this day, it remains in the shadow of the studio's more celebrated Christmas specials.

Yet, Mad Monster Party? is a hidden gem that deserves recognition. Its meticulous animation, clever humor, and unforgettable characters make it a must-see for fans of stop-motion animation and lovers of the weird and wonderful. So, why not gather some friends, get cozy, and embark on a delightful Halloween viewing experience? You won't be disappointed.

My rating: 6.5/10

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