Friday, October 28, 2011

Film #81: Mad Monster Party? (1967)

Ain’t no party like a Mad Monster Party, ‘cause a Mad Monster Party don’t stop!
And how could it with such unstoppable horror maniacs in attendance?
You have Dracula working the lick-her bar… red “wine” only. Then there is Frankenstein doing his classic Monster Mash dance move all night. 
Mix in the Invisible Man’s incessant bathroom practical jokes (the perv) and the Mummy “toilet papering” every room he can shuffle into to, and dat Monster Party is off da chain, dawg! Straight up!

Actually though, this classic monster party takes place in 1967… a good 35 years since some of these creepers were in their prime. 
More likely the affair would be a bunch of washed up freaks sitting around a table slurping prune soup, filling their diapers, and complaining about their fading star. And that is just what this movie features… metaphorically of course. Or just in our heads (read more about that in Chris' review).

Ever see those 1960s stop-motion Christmas specials about Rudolf the Red Nosed Freakazoid and the Abominable Snow Crybaby? Mad Monster Party is crafted in the same heart-burning way, only this party is for the best holiday on the calendar – Secretary’s Day! We mean, Halloween!

Dr. Boris Frankenstein, the chairman of the League of Monsters and notorious mad scientist, has called upon his fellow league monsters for a mullet-style meeting -- it is part business, and part party. The party aspect is to celebrate his latest mad invention, a potion that has the ability to destroy all matter in the universe. Seems old Frankenstein wants his fellow freaks to acknowledge his accomplishment. What an attention whore. 

The meeting side of the monster gathering is for a more serious purpose. Dr. Frankenstein has decided to retire from his wicked doings, and therefore needs to appoint a new leader of the League of Monsters. So, he rallys the trouble for a final hurah!

The guest list to this haunted gathering reads like a horror All Star roster: Dracula, The Frankenstein Monster, Bride of Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, a zombie Peter Lorre, and the mysterious “IT.”

Also invited is sneezy pharmacist Felix Flankin, Dr. Frankenstein’s previously unknown nephew and only heir. At first Flankin thinks the invite to the desolate Caribbean island Frankenstein now calls home will be filled with buxom beauties and long walks on white beaches. 
Not so much… case in point, the island has a huge skull embedded on its active volcano. This is no Sandals!

 But there is one beauty for Flankin to leer at, the strawberry topped curvaceous (almost too much for a kids show!) Francesca, an assistant to Dr. Frankenstein. Flankin falls instantly in love. But the feeling isn’t mutual… at least at first.

After all the monsters assemble for their meeting, Frankenstein makes his big retirement announcement, sending the speculation flying like a bat out of hell. Who will become the leader? Will Dr. Frankenstein hand over the anti-matter potion along with the monster crown?

When the monsters find out it will be Flankin who will take over the reins of the league, and not one of them, the plotting begins as each monster and even Francesca works to eliminate bumbling Flankin from the chain of command so they can take the monster throne.

Will the deadly anti-matter fall into the wrong clawed, sore-infested monster hands?
Does Felix Flankin have what it takes to head up the League of Monsters?
Which is worse, failing or never trying?
Find out in the 1967 bedeviled holiday classic “Mad Monster Party?”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 2.9
Chris Dimick parties:
“Good clean fun. That is the best way to describe Mad Monster Party. Was it scary? No? Was it entertaining? Sometimes. But it was always fun. 
How could it not be with such a comprehensive cast of horror legends gracing the screen?

 Mad Monster Party is a horror/comedy, and I use the term comedy lightly. It is filled with so many 60s-quality, zinging one liners that play off the characteristics of each monster, you won’t want to eat cheese for a whole month. 
Example: Getting ready to fly out a window, Dracula says to the camera “Now you will discover who the original Bat Man is!”

When you stop peeing yourself with laugher, read this next gem: Flankin drops his glasses and pats around on the floor, eventually bumping into the Invisible Man. He says “Excuse me, I can’t see a thing” to which the Invisible Man replies “you don’t know how often I hear that.” 
There were so many horrible zingers that Nick actually got whiplash from shaking his head in disapproval.

The monsters in Mad Monster Party are caricatures of themselves… watered down, Disney-fied versions fit for a holiday children’s movie. That seems about right for 1967, which as mentioned above is a full 36 years after Universal’s Dracula scared the bejesus out of people. 

Of course, it is hard to be sacred of a monster when it is taking part in a five minute song and dance number… of which there were numerous in this film. These monsters had seen their scary day, and by 1967 were mainly historic and beloved figures of horror.

But could we do the same movie with today’s horror icons? Could you assemble Jason, Freddy, Jigsaw, Leatherface, Michael Meyers, Pinhead, Chucky, and the Leprechaun for a kid friendly romp? I sure as hell would watch it if they did?!
But I’d assume not.

The classic horror movies left most of the horror off-screen, while also adding plot depth and personalities to their monsters. Frankenstein wasn’t all evil after all. In fact, in Bride Of you even feel sorry for the monster. Sure, Friday the 13th Part 8 tried to make us understand Jason Voorhees trauma of being drown and watching his mother get decapitated, but at the end of the day Jason was designed to be a one-note slash and stab menace... not a loveable horror fixture. 
The problem with the most recent generation of horror icons is their relentless evil and penchant for dicing up innocents makes it hard to see them ever being beloved.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Jason Voorhees. And Freddy and I are definitely friends with benefits. But do I have nostalgic heart pangs for their act? No… or at least not yet.
Give it a few more years, and maybe someday I’ll be looking back on the Friday, Halloween, and Nightmare movies as quant and fuzzy films. 
But to me, the modern works are just too visceral to take that turn. And I couldn’t be happier. 
It would be a sad day the first time I saw a plush doll Jason Voorhees carrying a stuffed machete and cottony dismembered head… for a number of reasons.

Isn’t that what makes the classic monster movies so great? They aren’t scary… but they sure have character. And nostalgia for the days of solid dialog and well drawn plots in horror movies fills in the rest of the emotions.

Good clean fun. 
I typically don’t endorse it. 
But it is Halloween time, and you caught me at a weak moment. Turn on Mad Monster Party. 
Is it good? Not really. Is it fun? 
More fun than Jell-O-filled underwear!”

N-Rating: 1.7
Nick Rich parties:
“To be perfectly honest, I can't believe this film exists! I'd be interested to know the history of its origins... who thought it would be a good idea? Did they think it would be profitable? Was that target audience children? (I would hope it was, but if so, it raises quite a few more questions)

Mad Monster Party left me feeling kind of funny, like I was watching a holiday special as a kid, all the while knowing that there should be some bite behind the characters I was seeing dance and sing around the screen. It all felt a bit off. You see, unlike traditional holiday specials like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer which clocked in at 47 minutes, Mad Monster Party was a whopping 94 minutes long!

He's got does... in different area codes.

While it was neat to see stop-motion incarnations of the classic monsters, the novelty wore off pretty quickly and the length of this film hurt the concept immensely. What could have been a silly jaunt down horror lane became a drawn out, pun filled fiasco with uninspired musical numbers that, if shown on commercial television, would have left the audience reaching for the remote.

All-Star cast; nowhere idea.
Not to mention that a part of me was a bit disturbed/upset by the neutering (sorry Wolfman) of the  classic monsters that this film symbolized. Sure, the characters were well on their way to that fate in their respective films by this time... but to have horror's all-time greats transformed into stop-motion caricatures for the digestion of children?!?! With Phyllis Diller?!? They deserved better than that.

She makes you happy the Bride of Frankenstein was destroyed!
So, unlike Mad Monster Party, I'm going to show some respect and cut this review short as I take a swig of my ice cold apple cider, making sure to pour a sip on the ground for my undead homies.

The Skinny: Check this flick out if you feel like undertaking the project of reediting it to make it a watchable holiday special or if you've been waiting for just the right film to drop that last bit of acid you save from the 60's to.”

Things We Learned From Mad Monster Party:
-The honeymoon didn’t last for the Bride of Frankenstein.
-There is nothing more different than an Easter candycane.
-You could sing a children’s ballad about devil worship in the 1960s.
-Dracula is a broke deadbeat.
-Phyllis Diller naturally looks like a monster.
-Union grave diggers are lazy.
-Sometimes the only way to say “I love you” is with a bitch-slap.
-Boris Karloff takes EVERY role seriously.
-The Invisible Man is actually Hunter S. Thompson.
-Monsters love to get hammered.
-You gotta stay one step ahead.
-Out of ghouls, demons, and spooks; humans are the worst kind of monster:

Quote of the Viewing:
[Curvy Frankenstein assistant Francesca conspires with Dracula on how to become the rulers of the monsters. But while she is talking, Dracula seems distracted with the “scenery.”]
Chris: (in Francesca voice) “Ummm, my eyes are up HERE, Dracula!”

RDHP Presents:
Our Dream Monster Party
It has been nearly 45 years since Mad Monster Party assembled the best and spookiest monsters for the party of a lifetime. A lot of ghosts, goblins, psychos, aliens, demons, and other things that go bump in the night have since entered the mass public ether.
Below, the RDHP lists who they would invite to their Mad Monster Party circa 2011, and the respective party roles the guest would be assigned. Because if we learned anything from Seinfield, it is that every party guest needs a job!

Possessed Regan
Party job -- entertainment
With her stairs crab-walking and unexpected floor peeing, we think The Exorcist's Regan would nail the party entertainment. If things started to get dull, she could always play the always titillating party game of “Find the Hidden Crucifix!”

Jason Voorhees
Party job – bouncer
For sure the booze would be flowing at our Monster Party, so we’d need someone to make sure no underage teens enter the shindig. Since Jason physically can’t stop himself from macheting anyone under 21, we think he’d be the perfect door bouncer to keep the young-ins away from this adult soiree. 

Party job -- TV remote nazi
There is not bigger party killer than some ahole turning the big game to Grey's Anatomy or some other party killing show. The Ring star, who has a penchant for crawling around (and in) the TV, would be best to nazi the remote.

Party job – food
We just don’t know how he does it, but Leatherface makes the most finger-licking BBQ this side of hell. Mmm mmm mmm mmm MMM! All he ever mumbles is that it is an old Texas family receipt, and that he’d have to kill us to truly get “into” the dish specifics. Gotta hate foodie snobs, eh.

Michael Myers
Party job – music
Every time Michael enters a room, John Carpenters still thrilling spook-jam Halloween theme song blares from his pores. Never a good thing when stalking his female relatives, but that soundtrack is perfect for a Halloween monster party. Hey, Michael, can you lift your armpits and turn up that music?

The Thing
Party job -- coats
After being frozen in ice for thousands of years, we bet The Thing from Another World would be more than happy to handle all those warm coats. Now alien Thing, don't let anyone puke on the coat bed... and you better not be hiding under there once the party is over!

Party job – drinks
All this guy ever does is philosophize on the meaning of life and death. We think he could use a drink. So, why not put him in charge of the entire booze cache!? He seems responsible enough to handle the party’s most important job – what with all those complex death machines he meticulously builds and sets. It takes time to create a reverse mouth bear trap! I’m sure he can handle keeping the monsters liquored up.
Why so serious, Jig! Grab a jug!

RDHP Says:
Happy Halloween!
The horror project's favorite holiday is just around the corner, a magical time when the air smells like fall and carved pumpkins, the “norms” flock to horror for a taste of the dark side, and the world takes a break for the pure fun revelry of celebrating the unknown and mysterious.
Below, some Internet treats (and a few tricks) in celebration of the best holiday of the year – Halloween!

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