Monday, October 29, 2012

31 Horrors: Mad Monster Party (#17)

Wherein I attempt to watch 31 horror films over the course of October. 31 horror films that I have never seen before, from obscure to acclaimed classics. We'll see how well I go in actually finding the time to watch and then write about them in some way.

Another horror spoof after the earlier Student Bodies. Inarguably more original and inventive, I didn't however find it anywhere near as entertaining. Taking on monster movies rather than slashers, Jules Bass' stop-motion animated film was the American's first animated feature since he co-produced the wildly successful Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The style is most definitely the same, and I give him props for making something a little bit left of centre for a G-rated animation, but I'm not sure how successful it ultimately is.

There's Dr Frankenstein (voiced by Boris Karloff!) who lives on Evil Island, and he's invited all the world's most famous monsters (Count Dracula, the Wolfman, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and so on) to his castle to announce his retirement as well as his successor. That turns out to be a meek drug store employee who sounds a lot like James Stewart with the whispy appearance of Niles Crane. Throw in all sorts of other references - including a copyright skirting beast named "It" and looks and sounds and acts identically to King Kong, plus a reference to Some Like It Hot (because, well, ya know... why not?) and you've got yourself Mad Monster Party. Oh, did I mention Phyllis Diller? Because there's Phyllis Diller doing her best kid-friendly version of her routine, her plasticine figure laughing at every one of her groan-inducing one-liners.

I didn't particularly like Mad Monster Party. I found it all a tad too flat for my liking. I imagine Tim Burton is a very big fan since he's tread into similar waters with his own wacky family friendly work on Frankenweenie and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Unlike those features, however, Mad Monster Party certainly has the feel of a TV movie. Unsophisticated humour for the most part - oh gawd, it reminded me of "Oy to the World"! - with only a few really great laughs hidden amongst the madcap musical adventure. I would recommend it most of all as a perfect movie to play in the background of your next Halloween gathering. It's an idea movie to be able to catch brief glimpses of without really having to pay all that much attention. And that you you also get to avoid the songs.

Songs like that one. It's all a bit nauseating, really. A DRACULA TAP ROUTINE! Of course, if I had seen this when I was younger then maybe I'd be crowing a different tune, but it doesn't hold much value as an adult when viewing it without the rose-coloured glasses of nostalgia. It's rather innocent demeanor really could have been played with a bit more of a wink and a nudge. Baby's first horror movie, if you will, but hopefully not the last. C

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