Wednesday, October 14, 2009

TV Party Tonight! - Mad Monster Party

Since we're only a few weeks from Halloween, we thought it might be nice to look at something with a monstrous appeal. Grab your trick or treat candy (I hope we got some Snickers!) and let's join the Mad Monster Party.

Although technically this was a theatrical feature, I think most of us probably saw it first on TV. Released in 1967, this 90 minute kid's monster comedy was put together by the folks at Rankin/Bass - the same people who gave us Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and it featured the same style of stop motion animation. Only this time, instead of cute little elves and reindeer, it was Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster, and a whole host of weird creatures coming into our living rooms!

The plot goes like this: Baron Frankenstein (voiced by the wonderful Boris Karloff, and the puppet looks just like him) has discovered the most destructive substance in the universe! Now that he has discovered the secrets of life and death, he invites all the monsters to his remote island to celebrate. This includes his nerdy nephew Felix, whom Frankenstein decides will be his heir. This doesn't sit right with the monsters, and they scheme to eliminate Felix. The Baron's gorgeous assistant, Francesca, is at first in on the plan, but eventually she falls for Felix and tries to help him escape. The gigantic IT! (aka King Kong) is brought to the island and goes on the rampage. After all else fails, Frankenstein uses his potion of destruction and blows up the entire island. Felix and Francesca survive, adrift at sea, but Francesca tells Felix their love cannot be - she is a robot made by Frankenstein! Felix says it's OK, "Nobody is perfect..."

The full roster of monsters, for those of you who are dying to know: Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster,his Mate (voiced by Phyllis Diller!), the Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, the Hunchback, the Mummy, the Creature (from the Black Lagoon), and Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde. I'm not sure if Rankin/Bass did this with the permission of Universal Studios or not. The Creature is just called 'The Creature', and doesn't look exactly like the movie version. The Frankenstein Monster definitely looks like the Universal version though, with flat head and all. It's a goofy, funny romp, which is no surprise since Mad Magazine vets Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Davis had a hand in the writing and design respectively.

The show is a lot of fun for anyone who enjoys the classic monsters and 60s culture. The show has some great music, bongos and all, and there's a number called "Do the Mummy", performed by a skeletal rock band. Check the clip below.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Since the show was a comedy, I would assume it was considered parody rather than plagiarism, and thus the caricatures of Universal's monsters were allowed as Fair Use.

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