Mad Monster Party (1966)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 2/26/11
Cast: Boris Karloff, Gale Garnett, Phyllis Diller

Wow... This is definitely the most adult oriented Rankin-Bass production I've seen, and it boasts a wicked sense of humor as well. Dr. Frankenstein (wonderful Boris Karloff) has just discovered the secret to massive destruction. To celebrate, he arranges a party for all of his classic monster brethren, including Frankenstein's monster and bride (Phyllis Diller), Count Dracula, the Werewolf, Dr. Jekyll, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Mummy, and the Creature (presumably from the black lagoon). He also plans to announce his retirement and name a successor, who happens to be a clumsy and clueless boy named Felix Flanken. The monsters are outraged by this and anarchy breaks loose on Evil Island with disastrous results.

While the animation doesn't seem to be on par with other Rankin-Bass productions, the character design and art direction are superb. It's quite easy to picture this as the inspiration for "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993) with its dark humor and visual flair. It also packs a delightfully groovy James Bond inspired music score. The film is full of surprises as well as some shockingly sexist and violent attitudes that were prevalent at the time. Frankenstein's secretary Francesca (wickedly seductive Gale Garnett) oozes with sinister sensuality, and inexplicably falls in love with Felix after he smacks her around a bit. What the hell?!? Their onscreen romantic tryst is also a lot more than I was expecting from puppet animation. All in all, "Mad Monster Party" is a delightful journey for anyone who admires classic animation and classic horror films. The pacing is a bit slow and the dialog a bit dated, but it never ceases to amaze and entertain.