Mad Monster Party? is a 1967 American stop-motion animated musical comedy film produced by Rankin/Bass Productions for Embassy Pictures. The film stars Boris Karloff, Allen Swift, Gale Garnett, and Phyllis Diller. Although less well-known than Rankin/Bass' holiday specials, it has become a cult film.
|Mad Monster Party?|
Theatrical release poster by Frank Frazetta
|Directed by||Jules Bass|
|Produced by||Arthur Rankin Jr.|
|Story by||Arthur Rankin Jr.|
|Distributed by||Embassy Pictures|
Baron Boris von Frankenstein (voiced by Boris Karloff) achieves his ultimate ambition, the secret of total destruction. Having perfected and tested the formula, he sends out messenger bats to summon all monsters to the Isle of Evil in the Caribbean Sea. The Baron intends to inform them of his discovery and also to reveal his imminent retirement as head of the "Worldwide Organization of Monsters". Besides Frankenstein's Monster (sometimes referred to as "Fang") and the Monster's more intelligent mate (voiced by Phyllis Diller) who live in the island castle with Boris, the invites also include Count Dracula, the Mummy, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Werewolf, The Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon (referred to as just "The Creature").
The Baron's beautiful assistant Francesca (voiced by Gale Garnett) enters the lab to confirm that all invitations have been delivered and inquires about one of the addressees named Felix Flanken (voiced by Allen Swift impersonating James Stewart). Frankenstein explains that Flanken is his nephew and successor in the monster business. This displeases Francesca, who covets the role for herself. Francesca even asks why there was not an invitation for "It". Boris replies that "It" was not invited since "It" can be a crushing bore, explaining that "It" even crushed the island's wild boars in his bare hands the last time "It" was invited.
Frankenstein has his zombie butler, Yetch (Swift impersonating Peter Lorre), Chef Mafia Machiavelli, and the zombie bellhops and servants make preparations for the upcoming party while having some zombies patrol the island to make sure that "It" does not show up uninvited. The monsters begin to arrive on the freighter that Felix is also traveling on.
However, when Felix proves to be an incompetent, asthmatic (and unsuitably kind-hearted) human, the monsters plot to eliminate him and gain control of the secret formula. Over time, Francesca develops feelings for Felix after he unknowingly saves her multiple times. As Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, and the Monster's Mate descend upon Francesca, she sends out a letter (via messenger bat) to an unknown recipient. When the monsters corner Felix upon capturing Francesca, they are frightened at the arrival of "It" (revealed to be a giant gorilla, a take-off of King Kong) who proceeds to go on a rampage since he was not invited. "It" snatches up the monsters and Francesca (on whom "It" develops a crush).
Felix rushes off to tell his Uncle Boris what happened, and is instructed to head to the boat. Boris leads the zombies in rescuing Francesca from "It" using biplanes. Boris convinces "It" to let Francesca go and to take him instead. "It" complies, releasing Francesca. Felix and Francesca manage to get off the island as Boris and the remainder of the monsters remain in the clutches of "It". Displeased that the monsters tried to steal the secret of total destruction for themselves and attempted to kill Felix, as well as having to put up with "It", Boris sacrifices his life by dropping the vial containing the formula, destroying the Isle of Evil and everything on it.
The destruction is witnessed offshore by Felix and Francesca. Francesca tearfully admits to Felix that she is not human, but is in fact a robot creation of Boris von Frankenstein. Felix answers that "none of us are perfect" where he then mechanically repeats the words "are perfect", indicating that he has also been a robot creation of his uncle the entire time.
The film was created using Rankin/Bass' "Animagic" stop motion animation process, supervised by Tadahito Mochinaga at MOM Productions in Tokyo, Japan. The process involved photographing figurines a frame at a time, then re-positioning them, exposing another frame, and so forth. In addition to Mochinaga, along with assistant director Kizo Nagashima, many other "Animagic" technicians of MOM (re-established as Video Tokyo Production after Mochinaga left for China) including puppet makers Ichiro Komuro and Kyoko Kita, and assistant animators Hiroshi Tabata and Fumiko Magari also worked on the film for Rankin/Bass, but are uncredited. Known as stop-motion animation, it was the same approach used in RKO's King Kong, Art Clokey's Gumby and Davey and Goliath, and many other films, commercials and TV specials. In partnership with MOM and Dentsu, Rankin/Bass had created several "Animagic" productions, including the syndicated television series The New Adventures of Pinocchio, the enormously successful Christmas television special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and their first full-length film Willy McBean and his Magic Machine. Classic monster films were enjoying a resurgence in popularity in the late 1960s, along with more comedy-centered examples, The Addams Family and The Munsters. This campy film is a spoof of horror themes, complete with musical numbers and inside jokes.
Mad Magazine creator Harvey Kurtzman penned the script (with writer Len Korobkin) and Mad artist Jack Davis designed many of the characters. Davis was a natural for the job, being famous both for his humor work and his monster stories in the pages of EC Comics. It has long been rumored that Forrest J. Ackerman had a hand in the script, but while the dialogue is rife with Famous Monsters of Filmland-like puns, Ackerman's involvement has never been confirmed and his name never appeared in the on-screen credits or in original promotion for the film at the time of its release. In fact, Rankin/Bass historian Rick Goldschmidt, in liner notes accompanying the Anchor Bay DVD release, denied Ackerman was ever involved, at the same time as the DVD packaging promoted Ackerman's name. Goldschmidt repeated his claims on this in a 2006 blog entry, based on his interviews with Korobkin, who claimed to have written the original screenplay, which then was revised by Kurtzman, but never worked with Ackerman.
In addition to the famous monsters seen in the film, Mad Monster Party? also features several celebrity likenesses. Karloff and Diller's characters are both designed to look like the actors portraying them, while Baron Frankenstein's lackey, Yetch, is a physical and vocal caricature of Peter Lorre. Swift also performs impersonations when voicing his characters, such as James Stewart when voicing Felix, Sydney Greenstreet as the Invisible Man and Charles Laughton as the Freighter Captain.
Mad Monster Party? was one of several family-friendly projects Karloff lent his voice to in his final years (including the 1966 television adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!). It was his final involvement in a production connected to the Frankenstein mythos that had propelled him to stardom some three decades earlier.
Although the opening credits identify Ethel Ennis as singing the opening theme song and, in the same frame, a soundtrack being available on RCA Victor, a commercially released soundtrack was never produced in any format. In September 1998, Percepto released a CD of the soundtrack for the film. "The Mummy" is allegedly performed by Dyke and the Blazers. Tracks without performer credits are instrumentals and contain no dialogue.
The film has been available on video for years, first on original distributor Embassy Pictures' home entertainment unit, and then on other independent labels before StudioCanal acquired some rights to the film. Currently, Lionsgate distributes the film on video under license from StudioCanal.
Before Lionsgate's current video release of Mad Monster Party?, almost all video releases have been from 16 mm film and were of very poor color quality. The original film negative was water-damaged some years ago, but Sony Pictures Television (which now holds the television rights) eventually unearthed an original 35 mm pristine print. This print was digitally remastered, and is the source for the current DVD issue and all subsequent television showings. Anchor Bay released the previous DVD on August 19, 2003, then re-released it on August 23, 2005 with additional features. On September 8, 2009, it was released as a "Special Edition" DVD by Lionsgate. The special features include a documentary including interviews with Rick Goldschmidt, Arthur Rankin Jr., voice artist Allen Swift, storyboard artist Don Duga, musical director Maury Laws and others. The film was released on Blu-ray on September 4, 2012.
Rankin/Bass produced a "prequel of sorts": a TV special called Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters from The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie series, which aired on September 23, 1972. This Halloween special featured many of the same monster characters. Bob McFadden did his imitation of Karloff when voicing Baron Henry von Frankenstein (who resembles Baron Boris von Frankenstein). The animation for the special is provided by Osamu Tezuka's Mushi Production with supervision by Steve Nakagawa, who was also known for his work with Iwao Takamoto at Hanna-Barbera Studios.
Events in 1967 in animation.Allen Swift
Ira Stadlen (January 16, 1924 – April 18, 2010), known professionally as Allen Swift, was an American voice actor, best known for voicing cartoon characters Simon Bar Sinister and Riff-Raff on the Underdog cartoon show. He took his professional name from radio comedian Fred Allen and 18th century satirist Jonathan Swift.Arthur Rankin Jr.
Arthur Gardner Rankin Jr. (July 19, 1924 – January 30, 2014) was an American director, producer and writer, who mostly worked in animation. A part of Rankin/Bass Productions with his friend Jules Bass, he created stop-motion animation features such as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town, and the 1977 cartoon animation of The Hobbit. He is credited on over 1,000 television programs.Bride of Frankenstein (character)
The Bride of Frankenstein is a fictional character first introduced in the novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus and later in the film Bride of Frankenstein.Count Dracula
Count Dracula () is the title character of Bram Stoker's 1897 gothic horror novel Dracula. He is considered to be both the prototypical and the archetypal vampire in subsequent works of fiction. He is also depicted in the novel to be the origin of werewolf legends. Some aspects of the character are believed to have been inspired by the 15th-century Wallachian Prince Vlad the Impaler, who was also known as Dracula, and Sir Henry Irving, an actor for whom Stoker was a personal assistant.One of Dracula's most mysterious powers is the ability to turn others into vampires by biting them. Other character aspects have been added or altered in subsequent popular fictional works. Starring as Dracula in a sequence of Hammer Horror films which began with Dracula in 1958, Christopher Lee fixed the image of the fanged vampire in pop culture. The character has appeared frequently in popular culture, from films to animated media to breakfast cereals.Crime Slunk Scene
Crime Slunk Scene is the eighteenth studio album by Buckethead, and his fourth tour-only album. It was originally only sold on his 2006 tour, but was later made available on Travis Dickerson's record label TDRS music, until it eventually went out of print.Gale Garnett
Gale Zoë Garnett (born 17 July 1942) is a New Zealand–born Canadian singer best known in the United States for her self-penned, Grammy-winning folk hit "We'll Sing in the Sunshine". Garnett has since carved out a career as a writer and actress.Griffin (The Invisible Man)
Griffin, also known as The Invisible Man, is the main protagonist and title character of H. G. Wells' 1897 science fiction novella The Invisible Man. In the original work, Griffin is a scientist whose research in optics and experiments into changing the human body's refractive index to that of air results in his becoming invisible. The character has become iconic, particularly in horror fiction, and versions and variations have appeared throughout various media.Joey Murphy
Joey Murphy is an American screenwriter and television producer, currently working as executive producer for Desperate Housewives.
Murphy has written episodes of the cartoon, Doug, The Crew, and Cybill Shepherd's sitcom, Cybill, the last two for which he also served as producer. He also collaborated with Marc Cherry on the sitcom, The Five Mrs. Buchanans. When Desperate Housewives began in 2004, Murphy was one of the staff writers, and for the second year, he was promoted to co-executive producer. Starting with the first episode of season four, he is now executive producer. Throughout his career, Murphy has worked with John Pardee, and the two also have written the script to the upcoming remake of Mad Monster Party?.John Pardee
John Pardee is an American screenwriter and television producer, and was an executive producer for Desperate Housewives.
During the 1990s, Pardee wrote episodes of several television series, including the cartoon Doug, the short lived sitcoms Charlie Hoover, Thunder Alley and The Crew and Cybill Shepherd's sitcom Cybill. On The Crew and Cybill he also served as producer. When Desperate Housewives begun in 2004, Pardee was one of the staff writers, and for the second year he was promoted to co-executive producer. Starting with the first episode of season four, he is now executive producer.
Mostly Pardee works with Joey Murphy. Pardee and Murphy have also written the script to the upcoming remake of Mad Monster Party. He is close friends with Christian McLaughlin and Valerie Ahern.Jules Bass
Jules Bass (born September 16, 1935) is an American director, producer, composer, lyricist, and author. Until 1960, he worked at a New York advertising agency, and then co-founded a film production company in New York. He joined ASCAP in 1963 and collaborated musically with Edward Thomas and James Polack.List of films featuring Frankenstein's monster
There is a body of films that feature Frankenstein's monster.Mad Mad Mad Monsters
Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters is a 1972 traditional animated comedy film produced by Rankin/Bass Productions in the United States and animated overseas by Mushi Production in Japan. The special aired on September 23, 1972 as part of The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie. It is a "prequel of sorts" to the 1967 stop motion animated film Mad Monster Party?Maury Laws
Maury Laws (December 6, 1923 – March 28, 2019) was an American television and film composer from Burlington, North Carolina.Monster Mash
"Monster Mash" is a 1962 novelty song and the best-known song by Bobby "Boris" Pickett. The song was released as a single on Gary S. Paxton's Garpax Records label in August 1962 along with a full-length LP called The Original Monster Mash, which contained several other monster-themed tunes. The "Monster Mash" single was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on October 20–27 of that year, just before Halloween. It has been a perennial holiday favorite ever since.Phyllis Diller
Phyllis Ada Diller (née Driver, born July 17, 1917 – August 20, 2012) was an American actress and stand-up comedienne, best known for her eccentric stage persona, her self-deprecating humor, her wild hair and clothes, and her exaggerated, cackling laugh.
Diller was one of the first female comics to become a household name in the U.S. She paved the way for Joan Rivers, Roseanne Barr, and Ellen DeGeneres, among others, who credit her influence. She had a large gay following and is considered a gay icon. She was also one of the first celebrities to openly champion plastic surgery, for which she was recognized by the industry.Diller worked in more than 40 films, beginning with 1961's Splendor in the Grass. She appeared in many television series, often in cameos, but also including her own short-lived sitcom and variety show. Some of her credits are Night Gallery, The Muppet Show, The Love Boat, Cybill, and Boston Legal, plus 11 seasons of The Bold and the Beautiful. Her voice-acting roles included the monster's wife in Mad Monster Party, the Queen in A Bug's Life, Granny Neutron in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, and Thelma Griffin in Family Guy.Rankin/Bass Productions
Rankin/Bass Productions, Inc. (founded as Videocraft International, Ltd. and later known as Rankin/Bass Animated Entertainment) was an American production company, known for its seasonal television specials, particularly its work in stop motion animation. Rankin/Bass's stop-motion features are recognizable by their visual style of doll-like characters with spheroid body parts, and ubiquitous powdery snow using an animation technique called "Animagic". Often, traditional cel animation scenes of falling snow would be projected over the action to create the effect of a snowfall.
Nearly all of the studio's animation was outsourced to at least five Japanese animation companies: MOM Production, Toei Animation, TCJ (Television Corporation of Japan), Mushi Production and Topcraft.The New Adventures of Pinocchio (TV series)
The New Adventures of Pinocchio is a syndicated stop motion animated television series produced by Videocraft International in the United States and made by Dentsu Studios in Japan. Created by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and his partner Jules Bass, it was based on the book The Adventures of Pinocchio written by Italian author, Carlo Collodi. The series was Rankin/Bass' first production to be made in "Animagic", a stop motion puppet technique which, in association with the company, was done by Tadahito Mochinaga's MOM Productions (before Mochinaga leaves for China after the finished animation for Mad Monster Party?). A total of 130 five-minute "chapters" were produced in 1960–61. These segments made up a series of five-chapter, 25-minute episodes. During 1963–64, the series was also aired in Japan on Fuji TV as part of another stop motion TV series, Prince Ciscorn (シスコン王子, lit. Ciscorn Ōji), based on the manga by Fujiko Fujio and also produced by Tadahito Mochinaga for Studio KAI and Dentsu.Veeblefetzer
Veeblefetzer is a word usually used facetiously as a placeholder name for any obscure or complicated object or mechanism, such as automobile parts, computer code, and model railroad equipment.