In honor of Halloween, it's time to take a look back at what I would consider an obscure classic. Filmed in the "animation" style of Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer, Mad Monster Party is a feature length film that spoofs and pays homage to the horror genre in motion pictures. With only a handful of "names" tied into the film, Boris Karloff as Dr. Frankenstein and Phyllis Diller as "The Monster's Mate" being the most recognizable, using the likeness of almost all of the major horror movie monsters and creatures is clearly the most important factor in advertising, and lures in both the young and adult audiences. Although I'm not very familiar with reviewing movies, I am going to go the route of "Watch and Comment", typing along with the movie, describing scenes, and putting in my two cents. It may sound boring, but it's a project I've been tempting to try, and with obscure movies, it really doesn't sound like too bad of an idea...
The film opens with a POV shot of what appears to be a deserted island. We follow the camera through the woods, where we come across skeletons, gravestones, and crows. Suddenly, it's through the window of a tower, and Dr. Frankenstein (Voiced by Karloff, as mentioned earlier) is working on a new experiment that vibrates and glows a light blue. Maybe it's the pocket version of a lightsaber. It begins raining electricity, and the bottle comes back down from above, glowing even wilder. Frankenstein uses a simple drop on our Raven friend, and as soon as it's released out the window, the poor bastard EXPLODES into a mushroom cloud. "Quoth the Raven, nevermore" says the Doctor. What a prick. He seems to have mastered the secret of destruction, and wants everyone to know about it. Frankenstein attaches invitations to the legs of bats (Carrier Bats) and we see the Monster laying around, getting a joly of electricity.
The opening credits role (with the title oddly reading Mad Monster Party?, note the question mark). The theme song is sung in the style of a James Bond film (Goldfinger?) by Ethel Ennis, as we see the invitations delivered to all the monsters of the universe, and yes, the movie credits appearances of "Dracula" and "Wolf Man", before giving credit to any of the voice actors. In a cute little spot, the Invisible Man's invitation comes, and it's written in invisible ink. It's goofy stuff like that, that you have to appreciate. Even the Creature From the (Normally Colored) Lagoon gets one.
We're next introduced to the main (Human) Character of the movie, Felix Flankin, a clumsy dweeb with allergies. He works in a Drug Store, and gets harrassed by the boss, who sounds like the asshole lead Elf from Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer. Felix destroys some merchandise, and his boss holds it to him to work for free until his debts are paid off... TWO MONTHS WORTH. The Mailman arrives with a delivery, and Felix has one of the invitations to Frankenstein's Island. His quiet mumbling annoys his boss, of course, demaning to know what this private letter is all about. Felix is two minutes away from offering oral pleasure to get a vacation to go to this special presentation, until the boss finally gives in and let's him go, claiming it's more of a vacation for him to have Felix away. What a jerk. Felix destroys another display, and apparently BubbleBath works without adding it to water.
We follow one of the bubbles until it explodes, turning into the full moon. The Monster is lurking around, as is a very enticing red head with a large chest. Suddenly, the annoying, cackling voice of Phyllis Diller makes it's debut, heckling the Monster for having an eye for this beautiful woman, and she's credited as "The Monster's Mate." Then, out of nowhere, Diller... I mean, the Mate, starts singing a horrible song called "You're Different." I would like to note, the Mate looks like a witch in Go-Go Boots, and NOT the Classic Bride. I think that look is held under copyright from Universal Studios. The Monster doesn't look like the classic Universal version, either, further confirming my beliefs. I don't know who wrote these lyrics, but an Easter Candy Cane and a Brazilian Tune just seem a little out of place.
Back in the Doctor's Laboratory, and we find out the redhead's name is Francesca, voiced by (kinda famous) singer Gale Garnett. At times, her voice is VERY enticing, and other times she displays a decent range of loathing in her tone. She tells the Doctor about the replies to the invitations, and is surprised by getting one from Felix, who is under the impression that this is a vacation delight. Francesca thinks, in not so many words, that Felix is an idiot/loser, you make the call. Felix is the long-lost nephew of Dr. Frankenstein, son of his youngest sister, the "white sheep" of the family. Apparently she ran away with some traveling salesman in Transylvania and moved to the United States. The Doctor informs Francesca that he is retiring, and that this nerd is going to take over his legacy. This surprises her, doing a spit take to prove her shock. She doesn't take kindly to this, and bitch slaps the Cuckoo Clock.
We meet a Captain and his Mate, who are preparing to take off on their vessel. Apparently, Dr. Jekyll has made his way on board, but the First Mate says he introduced himself as Mr. Hyde. We're informed that the crew jumped ship, leaving these two alone. Suddenly, the Hunchback lurches his way onto the dock and offers his services through inaudible grumbling. "He's as strong as 50 men" "and as ugly I've ever seen" comment the sea men. Dracula shows up, and the captain tries ripping him off because he looks rich. Apparently, Dracula is Faux-Rich, having nothing but dust in his wallet, and chooses to fly there, transforming into a bat right in front of their eyes. They must think they're having a pretty good high. Next up, it's Felix, and he scares them more than anyone else, no doubt thinking this is the man who will rule the world one day... the pre-pubecent Felix Unger. Felix is like a REALLY bad cross between James Stewart and Jerry Lewis, at least to me. He bumps into the Werewolf, but loses his glasses, and thinks it's a woman in a fur coat. Then the Invisible Man shows up, and thinks Felix is being funny when he says "He can't see a thing." The Captain informs his 1st Mate to invite the passengers to dine with him. We find that Dracula has decided to ride afterall, and scares the Mate senseless. The same goes with the Werewolf and the Mummy, who no doubt make the Mate soil his undies. Felix wanders around the deck and meets Dr. Jekyll, who never moves his lips when he talks. I guess on top of being a doctor, he's a ventriliquist, too. He takes a sip of something from his walking stick, and transforms into a grotesque being. It's about as comical a version you can ever expect from the Jekyll/Hyde story. Night falls (yes, Dracula WAS running around in sunlight) and all the monsters start finding their way off the vessel. The Hunchback is kind enough to take off with the Mummy. Who knew the Bell Tower of Notre Dame and the pyramids of Egypt had long-distant service back then. We cut to Dracula, who makes a terrible Batman joke, and he flies off, AGAIN. That was one long stretch of film time.
Dr. Frankenstein is giving orders to his Zombie servants and their leader (?), a weasely zombie named Yetch, who is doing a damn entertaining Peter Lorre impersonation. The monster even has a somewhat decent likeness of Lorre, too. Imagine if THESE guys were the ones tending to Orphan Annie's every whim. Little Orphan Annie Meets the Zombie Army smells like money in the bank. Yetch has a thing for Francesca, but gets slammed to the ground for his troubles. She calls him a creep, and he quite literally creeps his way off screen, complete with goofy, but awesome sound effects. Yetch recites a poem that's borderline disturbing about his love/lust for Francesca, then sends his Zombies out to patrol the Island in planes straight out 1912, covered in cobwebs. At least if they crash, they can't die, being dead already. Like any underling with little power, Yetch complains about the quality of the equipment, as it constantly falters.
We jump to Dr. Frankenstein playing organs infested with rats. Francesca comes over, wondering if "It" will dare show up. I don't know, Stephen King hasn't written that book and turned it into a sub-par mini series, yet. The Monster and his Mate make their way to the Great Hall, looking ghastly... it's Frankenstein's words, not mine. Everyone starts showing up in rapid fire time. Dracula, who tries to take a bite out of the Mate. Then he hits on Francesca, because he's into grave robbing for his sexual conquests and figures if the dead say no, the living are a decent alternative. The Werewolf and Invisible Man come next, and Dracula continues playing the goofball role. The Hunchback and Mummy next. The Hunchback shadow boxing is right up there with Ganon doing it on an episode of Legend of Zelda, when he tried to demonstrate to his Moblins how to fight Link. Dr. Jekyll and his No-Lip-Moving Dialogue show up, then transform into Hyde seconds later. Yetch comes over to hit on Francesca again, and gets bashed over the head after a lame Don Juan hit-on line. Dracula makes "fishy" jokes about the mate, but it's just the Creature from the Lagoon. Damn Dracula, just because she turned you down doesn't mean you have to claim she doesn't demonstrate proper feminine hygiene.
We go into the kitchen, and Yetch is bothering the chef, who is a typical stereotype Italian, complete with bushy mustache, and ending every other word with an "a", even when it doesn't have one. He's-a makin-a salad, and threatens to toss-a Yetch out of-a-his kitchen. He sings about his salad, and offers Yetch a taste. It's-a Mafia Macabeli Special, with Poison Ivy, Toadstools, and Poison Berries. If you ever wanted to know what Top Chef was like back in the 19th century, this is it... I'd still watch it. I'm insulted more and more every second, with my Italian heritage stomped over with this horrible stereotype. The Chef offers Yetch some Octopus-Soup, but it sounds like he keeps saying "Octopussy", and before anyone giggles, that was a James Bond character. I think. I don't know who have the greenlight, but this scene just keeps going, with Yetch sampling more food, pissing off the chef. Apparently, Mafia Macabelli is the chef's name, and he throws knives at Yetch, until it creates a hole in the wall.
Dinner Time! It can't be any better than the dinner served in the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Frankenstein shows off his invention that can destroy anyone, anything, any place. Francesca's brain talks to herself, and says she's going to use Dracula to help her. The Monster's Mate over-hears this, claiming it's her own fault for thinking so loudly. Frankenstein drops the bomb about his retirement, and everyone debates who should get his position as the top gun of the Monsters Inc. So now everyone is not only trying to backstab each other to get the invention, but also to get to be the new leader of the group. Then, for no reason, there's a Skeleton Band (with funky haircuts) playing some bad 60's bubblegum music, and the Mate does a TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE, dance with the Mummy, and I swear to God, I hear DONALD FUCKING DUCK SINGING. I hate stealing someone elses bit, but THAT is a Big Lipped Alligator Moment.
Dracula and Francesca are having a private conversation, and Francesca says he's as horrible as Yetch. Francesca tells Dracula he's not the successer to the Doctor, who takes the news well (as well as Dr. Fronkensteen takes it that the monster doesn't come to life in Young Frankenstein). Francesca cuts a deal with Dracula, who then threatens to cut her out of the deal using underhanded tactics, even with her standing TWO FEET AWAY as he talks about it, OUT LOUD. Then, in another bizarre moment, they do a song-and-dance number. Dracula doing a tap-dance is just surreal. At least only Francesca does the singing, along with a chorus of random singers. Where is that music coming from? Isn't it disturbing the dead band playing the dinner party? The Monster's Mate has been listening in the whole time, and Francesca, who just removes the curtain, suggests she had been hiding behind the drapes the whole time. Captain Obvious knows no genders. We get an impromptu Evening Gown Match, complete with cat screetching noises as they claw at each other.
IT'S A MONSTER MASH BATTLE ROYAL! Wolfman bites the Monster as he throws Dracula into the dinner table. Mr. Hyde rips off Yetch's head and gives it to the Monster, who uses it as a bowling ball across the table, but leaves one glass standing. The Mummy gets a faceful of fruit, prompting Dracula to call hima Fruit Salad. The Mummy chucks a pie at Dracula, but it misses and hits the Creature instead. Invisible Man talks shit, and takes a pie to the face, too. Yetch calls him ugly, so the Invisible Man knocks Yetch's head off again with a pitcher of water. Invisible Man picks the Lagoon Creature up and throws him into the wall. Mr. Hyde talks smack to Yetch and gives him a Boar's Head for his troubles. The Wolfman bites off one of the bones of a band member, and Dracula takes a dunk into the punch. The Monster comes over to shove his face into it more, and we cut away, with everyone tuckered out... so it's a No Contest? Damn. Now THAT is a Monster Mash, or more accurately, a Monster Bash. Har Har Har.
Okay, back to the movie and playing it straight... everyone is either sleeping or being disturbed by how someone is snoring next to them. It's a waste of three minutes. We catch up with the Monster's Mate, who appears to have a dick for a nose, flapping all about as it snores. The editing room is there for a purpose. We FINALLY meet back up with Felix, who has to row his life-boat to shore, because the captain is too much of a pussy to dock. Dr. Frankenstein and Francesca (yummy... okay, I'm disturbed) somehow know where to meet him, and Frankenstein again talks about "It." Dude, the killer arachnid that disguises itself as a clown is decades away, still. Incase we forgot, Felix does about four pratfalls to remind us that, yes, he is a doofus and a clutz. Yetch hits on Francesca again, and gets smacked again. Dracula meets up with Francesca to discuss a plan to take care of business. Dracula combs his hair in the mirror, despite having no reflection. Francesca has mapped out good locations to ambush Felix, and we cut away to...
Francesca luring Felix into an ambush. At least we're moving on with the plot. The Werewolf shows up, and Felix talks to it like he's a dog. The Mummy is laying around, and Felix mistakes him for a horribly injured person, and wraps his bandages around a tree. Francesca quips that if she were to sprain her ankle, not to call for him. Dracula sharpens his fangs on a file, and takes a mouthful of insect spray for his troubles. Francesca's outfit reminds me of Dark Helmet's when they're combing the desert. Dracula attempts another ambush, but Felix keeps ducking down, looking for a sandwich he approves of. Giving up on a flying attack, Dracula chooses for a bum rush and goes flying into a treet, losing his teeth on the tree in the process. A toothless vampire would be a pretty cool idea.
Dr. Frankenstein shows off his creepy mansion, including the airplanes invented by Wilbur and Orvill... von Frankenstein. Like we didn't expect to hear that one. Dr. Frankenstein seems unimpressed by the meager experiments done by Felix. He drops the news on him taking over the family business, and guess what... it's a musical number. SUNG BY BORIS FUCKING KARLOFF. The chorus sings "You Got To Stay One Step Ahead." Honestly, I can't top that. I should end this right now and go out on a high note. Felix offers to think about it, and goes off to go fishing. Meanwhile, Francesca chews Dracula out like a mouthful of Big League Chew. The Monster and his Mate show up, and Francesca might as well shout "It's a Trap!!!" as the plan of the monsters come to light. Francesca uses a secret passage to escape, and winds up in the laboratory. Now Francesca is out for revenge, and sends a letter by Carrier-Bat to... oh come on, like we don't know.
Felix is, you guessed it, fishing, and accidentaly fends off the Creature with a fish he just hooked. Back to Francesca, and she's trying to find the formula for the Doctor's new invention. She grabs a torch and wolfsbain, but is unsure of which is good against whatever monster. Dracula clearly can take the torch from her, and the Monster can grab the leaf of lettuce. Francesca takes a swan dive out the window, landing in the lagoon. Crocodiles go after her, but Felix makes the surprise save. The Mate sees this, and basically says they looks if they're going to bang. Francesca yells at Felix for ruining all her plans, but then decides she's in love with Felix after he demonstrates spousal abuse on her. I am NOT maing this up. The more he slaps her, the more she loves him. Then, it's another musical number. "Never Was a Love Like Mine." Okay, now while the song is decent, this romance storyline JUST CAME OUT OF FUCKING NOWHERE, AND WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE SHE'S THAT IN LOVE WITH THIS NERD?! I guess it's no worse than, say, Revenge of the Nerds, when one of the cheerleaders falls for the lead nerd because he gave her good sex, despite it being a borderline rape.
Francesca reveals to Felix the plot of the monsters to take care of him. It's much worse than that, though, but we are still kept in the dark. Dracula holds a meeting with all the Monsters, playing a PG Version of Adolf Hitler, uniting them all in wiping out the Doctor, his nephew, and Francesca. Yetch is unconvinced, blowing a raspberry in opposition. Dracula still calls it a unanimous decision. Yetch remains on the side of the Doctor, but Dracula rubs it in Yetch's face that the Doctor kept Francesca for himself and gave him a bottle of Jergens. Yetch takes his raspberry back, the Mate fails to pronounce unanimous, and they're off for BLOOD~!!!
Francesca and Felix are still making a run for it, but Francesca tires, and conveniently rests next to a (Wo)man Eating Plant. Felix saves her again, turning Francesca on some more. "Don't thank me, thank my pills" should've been the slogan for Viagra after hearing that line. Felix summons the spirit of George McFly and offers to carry Francesca, but claims she's too heavy. Francesca takes this well, claiming she's no easy pick up. Suddenly, the Wolfman and Yetch kidnap Francesca. Felix is surrounded by a gaggle of monsters, but they're at least polite enough to bless him after sneezing. Felix whips out one of his potions, but the monsters think it's THAT potion... and suddenly, It shows up, and it's a poor man's King Kong, who emerges from the water. Why not just make it Godzilla? At least that would make some sense. Felix finally realizes what's behind him, and offers It a banana. I'm sorry, but if a 40-foot ape monster was standing over me, I'd have a heart attack, shit myself, and drop dead.
It's conclussion time! It finds a picture of Francesca and gets that warm tingly feeling inside. Pervert. Then he just stands around a while, doing nothing, until he tears the castle apart, piece by piece. I used to have so of those 3D puzzles, now that I think about it. Those kicked ass. Yetch offers to take advantage of Francesca, but gets flicked in the air like a booger off the finger of It. Francesca, being the desire of every monster, is then taken by It. Felix offers to KILL HIMSELF, but he admits to being a drama queen when the Doctor Frankenstein shows up and overhears it. It takes sanctuary at the top of a mountain, gripping Francesca in one hand, and all the other monsters in his other. Out of nowhere comes Frankenstein and his Zombies, flying planes to make an attack run on It. This attack sucks pretty hard, but It still lets Francesca go, because he's in love with her. Aww... Meanwhile, Felix has found the motorboat to escape, and takes Francesca along with him. Meanwhile again, Doctor Frankenstein uses his new invention to not only destroy It, but himself and the rest of the monsters, leaving Felix and Francesca the only survivors of the destruction, complete with a fireworks display. Happy Independence Day! Francesca starts crying again, revealing that she's not human, but rather the masterpiece of Frakenstein's experiments, made of machine. Felix ends things, with a nervous tick... is there an implication that HE is a robot too, or just a spaz, still?
Final Thoughts: While not a masterpiece or an all-time classic like Rudolph, Mad Monster Party has it's charm. The animation is well done, especially considering it's a feature-length film, running over 90 minutes. The plot isn't too bad, and most of the characters are very likeable, especially Boris Karloff's performance as Dr. Frankenstein. However, on the other side of things, there's a lot of filler, most notably the lame chef who doesn't make another appearance the rest of the movie, and most of the musical numbers are completely forgetable. I must say, I find Phyllis Diller's celebrity status questionable... I don't know what people were on in the 60's, but her voice is annoying, her laugh makes me want to stab myself in the ears, and all of her scenes are just so poorly written, or she just delivers them so badly it comes across as poorly written. If there was one thing I'd have to say is a real complaint, it's her. This is definitely worth a look, and is a decent addition to any DVD collection. It's not perfect, but it holds up well, nearly half-a-century later.