Monday, August 6, 2012

Mad Monster Party? (1967)

This is a movie that I saw several times when I was a little kid. I also saw all of the Christmas themed claymation films of the time and I was really into all of them. On top of that, I was obsessed with Universal Pictures monsters from the 30's. So, when Mad Monster Party? came on television, I fell madly in love. 

Seeing it again as an adult is unfortunately a different story. I think the main issue, and it's no fault of the film makers, but simply because The Nightmare Before Christmas exists, it sort of makes Mad Monster Party? unnecessary. But they obviously couldn't have known that in 1967. I've heard that in order to really offer a good critique, you have to approach the material from where and when it was presented. So picture me as a wide eyed six year old reviewing Mad Monster Party? right after seeing it on television, about 15 years after it was made. 

A monster convention is about to take place. Baron Von Frankenstein (Boris Karloff) has decided that it's time to retire. He's had a long and succesful career as a monster maker. But he feels that it's time that his nephew Felix Flankin (Allen Swift) take over the business. At the convention, things digress into sort of a monster reality show. There is bad mouthing, back stabbing, and scene stealing. But there are also puns galore. At the time of production, the most relevant horror publication was Famous Monsters of Filmland. The magazine's editor Forrest J. Ackerman made a career of writing these type of puns. There are rumors that he actually had a hand in writing the script for Mad Monster Party? but he died in 2008 and he never said anything about it. 

Stop motion animation or claymation has definitely come a long way over the years. That's why I said that this is nowhere near Nightmare Before Christmas or even Corpse Bride. But considering that it's about 45 years old, it holds up remarkably well. In a way, it's made even better because of those other films. I would consider this a great companion piece to them...even the Christmas claymation. All families should watch all of them. The subject matter in Mad Monster Party? is not the safe humor that we are used to today. It's slightly more risque and the humor is pretty dark. But a couple of generations of kids grew up watching this and most of them turned out just fine. 

If you have a six to twelve year old, I would highly recommend renting this for them. They would be getting a good horror film history lesson while being entertained for a whole 90 minutes. It's so much better than kids movies being made today. 

No comments: