here). I didn't really like the other Rankin/Bass stop motion animation films, like Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but I had much higher hopes for this one because of the subject matter.
While Mad Monster Party is far from perfect, it's hard to resist the blend of traditional gothic horror imagery and 1960s pop culture. I particularly enjoyed the James Bond-esque opening titles song, with Batman-style word graphics like "shriek", and "gasp", as we were introduced by location to the rogues gallery of classic horror monsters featured in the story. The sets of Frankenstein's castle were fabulous, and the storyline was littered with appealingly silly jokes like Dracula stating that he was "the original Batman", a reference to the popular Batman television series that was airing at that time.
Full of very Sixties stream of consciousness looniness, and punctuated as it was with songs, this movie reminded me a little of the television show, The Monkees, except The Monkees' songs were good, and these, for the most part... weren't. In fact, this movie featured a number of musical interludes which appeared to be designed solely to induce the urge to stab oneself in the eye with a fork. There was one cute song called "Do the Mummy", performed by a skeleton band called Little Tibia and the Fibias, and if only they had left it at that, the film would have been so much more enjoyable.
There were also a couple of truly bizarre moments that really made me wonder how they got away with calling this a children's film back in the day. For example, in one scene, a Phyllis Diller voiced "Monster's Mate", and Baron von Frankenstein's buxom assistant, Francesca, strip down to their underwear and engage in a cat fight. As they roll around the floor, meowing sound effects can be heard. Then at another point, the camera zooms in on Frankenstein's male chef provocatively pinching the buttocks of an Igor-like character. My son, incidentally, thought these scenes were hysterical!
By all accounts, this movie has a cult following amongst those who remember it fondly through the rosy spectacles of nostalgia. It is certainly a freakily surreal roller coaster ride, and if, like me, you like the aesthetic of the gothic horror classics, and the Sixties, then it will probably make you smile. Apparently the look of Mad Monster Party was a big influence on Tim Burton's stop motion films, which is a pretty impressive legacy!