Mad Monster Party? (1967)

Article 3004 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-29-2009
Posting Date: 10-4-2009
Directed by Jules Bass
Featuring the voices of Boris Karloff, Allen Swift, Gale Garnett
Country: USA

Dr. Frankenstein plans to retire as head of the monsters and plans to put his nephew in his place, a human named Felix Flankin. However, the other monsters hatch a plot to do away with Felix so they can get a hold on all of Dr. Frankenstein’s secrets.

It’s really impossible for me to be too hard on a movie that pays tribute to so many classic monsters (Frankenstein, his monster, the Bride of Frankenstein, the Wolfman, Dracula, the Invisible Man, the Mummy, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and a special surpise appearance only billed as “It”), especially if it features the voice work of Boris Karloff and a whole slew of celebrity imitations (including Jimmy Stewart, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet and Charles Laughton). I wondered about the presence of Phyllis Diller, but when I discovered she was cast as the Bride of Frankenstein (who lovingly calls the monster “Fang”), I had to admit it was an inspired choice. It’s just that I wish this Rankin/Bass animated film was better. The movie opts to go the comedy route, yet at heart, comedy wasn’t really what Rankin/Bass did best; they specialized in whimsical fantasies. Here the comedy falls thuddingly flat most of the time, and, despite the fact that animation is capable of producing immaculate comedy (think of Looney Tunes), much of the timing here is clumsy. I also find it a little questionable tastewise in a children’s movie to have our villainess fall in love with a man only after having been slapped around by him; though it’s not sadistically (he’s just trying to break her out of hysteria), I would certainly not want to have to try to explain masochism to an impressionable child. Still, there’s always Karloff to brighten things up, and I do like the ending, especially a nice little final twist that also serves as an unlikely reference to SOME LIKE IT HOT. My favorite gag involves Frankenstein’s offering a fly to a giant frog.

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