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Blu-ray Review: MAD MONSTER PARTY
By Jonathan Stryker (Facebook); Jonathan Stryker (Twitter)
Sep 27, 2012 - 7:00:00 PM

MAD MONSTER PARTY is a relatively obscure treat from 1967 that primarily made its rounds to movie theaters as a Saturday and Sunday matinee film for children.  Made by Rankin and Bass, the same production team who famously brought RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER to television five years earlier, MAD MONSTER PARTY is a stop motion musical that is the obvious inspiration for Tim Burton's THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993), boasting an infectious musical score and a cavalcade of talent voicing the eclectic assortment of titular characters.

Baron Boris von Frankenstein, voiced by Boris Karloff who had one of the greatest voices in the entertainment industry, decides to hang up his lab coat and turn his castle and duties over to his less than capable nephew Felix Flankin (Allen Swift). 

He plans to make this announcement at a gathering of monsters that includes a dim-witted monster he has created, the monster's mate (voiced by Phyllis Diller who recently passed away at 95), his lab assistant Francesca (Gale Garnett), Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Dracula, the Werewolf, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Mummy, and a King Kong-like ape), and a creepy Peter Lorre-like character.  Naturally, Felix goofs up everything, which causes the monsters to conspire to eliminate him and find out the secret that Frankenstein his unearthed, as the film hurtles towards its BLADE RUNNER-like ending. 

Bolstered by a terrific musical score, MAD MONSTER PARTY was originally released on Embassy home entertainment in the mid-1980s. This release, along with the film's scarce television airings, was sourced from very dark 16mm prints, making it difficult at times to see the action.  The opening credits referred to the availability of a soundtrack album, however one was never released at the time. It took nearly 20 years for a now defunct record company, Percepto Records, to finally issue the music on compact disc, which is long out of print.

Unfortunately, the film's original camera negative was reportedly damaged many years ago, rendering it unusable. Whether or not it still exists, is anybody's guess. Fortunately, a pristine 35mm print, which possesses a minimum amount of dirt and scratches at the head and tail of each reel, survived and has been used for the new Blu-ray/DVD combo release now available from Lionsgate.  The Blu-ray is a revelation and the film has never looked this good before.  It is framed in the 4 x 3 (1.33:1) ratio, but on widescreen monitors and televisions the image can easily be expanded to 16 x 9 (1.78:1) without looking contorted. 

Both the Blu-ray and the DVD have the following extras that have been ported over from the Lionsgate DVD release from 2009:

"Mad Monster Party: Making of a Cult Classic" featurette (14:47)

"It's Sheer Animagic! Secrets of Stop-Motion Animation" featurette with Mark Caballero and Seamus Walsh (9:35)

"Groovy Ghouls: The Music of Mad Monster Party" featurette with Maury Laws (3:45)

Two bonus sing-along tracks for kids of all ages: "Our Time to Shine" and "One Step Ahead"

Trailer (1:29)

The new Blu-ray is a worthy step up from the standard DVD and worth the purchase. 

Great for Halloween! 


 



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