Western Animation: Mad Monster Party

Promotional Art by Frank Frazetta

A Rankin/Bass Productions Stop Motion puppet animated (called "Animagic") feature-length production from 1967, Mad Monster Party is a get together of many classic monsters, as designed by MAD cartoonist Jack Davis. Baron von Frankenstein (voiced by Boris Karloff), creator of the Monster and his Mate, has created a vial of potion capable of destroying matter. Delighted by his latest success, the Baron decides to retire while he is still on top, and invites nearly a dozen monsters to the Isle of Evil for a party. There, at the party, he intends to retire as head of the Worldwide Organization of Monsters, and hand over the position, and the secret of destruction, to his nephew, the nerdy Felix Flanken.

Attending the party are the Monster and his Mate (voiced by Phyllis Diller), Dracula, the Werewolf, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Invisible Man, the Creature, Dr. Jekyll and his alter-ego, and the Mummy. Also present are the Baron's assistant, the attractive redhead Francesca, and the zombie butler Yetch who is obsessed with her. Not invited to the party is a monster the Baron only refers to as "It," who, in the climax, is revealed to be King Kong.

Needless to say, when the monsters find out that the Baron is handing over his secrets to his nephew instead of one of them, they are outraged. Hilarity and chaos ensue.

The film was under-promoted and did poorly in its theatrical release, but has since become a cult classic. Five years later, Rankin/Bass would give the film an unofficial (and somewhat illogical) sequel of sorts, Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters (1972), a 2D television film for the anthology series ABC Saturday Superstar Movies, using most of the original Jack Davis character designs, though dropping Phyllis Diller for a "Monstress" who somewhat resembled this film's Francescanote .

Today, Mad Monster Party is considered by many to be the precursor to The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Tropes present in Mad Monster Party include:

  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The Monster and his Mate seem to quarrel, but they are genuinely loyal to each other; in a surprisingly touching moment, when the Monster's Mate dances with The Mummy during the dance sequence, The Monster rises to his feet in mute jealousy and stares at them with a hurt look and clenched hands.
  • Babies Ever After: The sequel has the Monster and his bride seen with a baby in tow in the end credits.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: The Wolf Man.
  • Berserk Button: When Yetch tells Chef Mafia Machiavelli that his hyena casserole is missing something, he flips out and throws knives at him.
  • Black Comedy: Baron: "After the party, there was nothing but a huge pile of leftovers!" Francesca: "I wonder who it was?"
  • Blind Without 'Em: Felix, which allows him to encounter the Wolf Man and the Invisible Man without noticing anything amiss.
  • Captain Ersatz: The Monster's Mate is totally not the Bride of Frankenstein; Dracula is certainly not Dracula, despite his Hungarian accent (see, he has a monocle — that proves it!); the Creature is definitely not from the Black Lagoon; the Werewolf is positively not The Wolf Man (even if he is introduced as "Ron Chandley" in the sequel); — and how could anyone even begin to think that "It" had anything to do with any movie ever previously made?
  • Cat Fight: There's one between hot babe Francesca and The Monster's Mate Phyllis Diller — complete with dubbed-in meows.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Francesca calls Yetch a creep at one point, but the zombie assumes that she told him to creep.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The Baron genuinely cares for his nephew Felix, enough to sacrifice himself to let Felix escape at the end of the movie.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The reason the Baron doesn't invite "It" to the party is because he found that monster's behavior disgusting.
  • Evil Brit: Mr. Hyde.
  • Expy: In the five years between Mad Monster Party and Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters, The Hunchback of Notre Dame has gone gray, changed his name to Fritz Igor, and become Dr. Frankenstein's assistant.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: The Monster and his Mate play an important role in the story and setting.
  • Haven't You Seen X Before??: The early scene where Felix meets the sailors at the dock after several monsters have already boarded the ship has a variant of this. The sailors, spooked by the behavior of the monsters, react to the normal-looking Felix with fear.
    Felix: Golly. What's the matter with them? Haven't they ever seen a tourist before?
  • Heel-Face Turn: Francesca, after Felix kisses her.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In order to buy enough time for Felix and Francesca to escape, the Baron hops in a biplane and goes to attack It.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Felix falls for Francesca almost right away.
  • The Igor: Yetch.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Boris Karloff as Baron von Frankenstein. Phyllis Diller as the Monster's Mate (down to her signature laugh).
  • Island Base: The Isle of Evil is the home of Baron von Frankenstein and his creations. The air space around it is patrolled by zombies flying fighter planes.
  • Kid with the Leash - Monster's Mate
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Dr. Jekyll, in a rare villainous example, though his alter ego averts this.
  • Medium Awareness: After Francesca has an Inner Monologue about her plan to use Dracula to steal Baron von Frankenstein's secret of destruction, the Monster's Mate tells the Monster (AKA Fang) that she suspects Francesca is up to something. "Besides, it's her own fault for thinking too loud."
  • Monster Mash
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Yetch's voice and character design are modeled on Peter Lorre; The Invisible Man's (insofar as he can be seen) on Sydney Greenstreet. Felix's voice is very similar to Jimmy Stewart's, though the character design does not resemble him much.
    • In the sequel, though Baron von Frankenstein is voiced by Allan Swift, he still sounds like Boris Karloff; Dracula sounds even more like a stereotypical Bela Lugosi; and Harvey's doctor sounds rather like Ronald Colman.
    • The ship captain sounds rather like Peter Ustinov.
  • Parental Bonus: The sequel has some witty dialogue and mature jokes, such as the Invisible Man's wife complaining that men are all alike and Modzoola getting into an argument with his wife because, as Baron Frankenstein put it, "he has eyes for the ladies."
  • Porky Pig Pronunciation: At one point, the Monster's Mate has trouble with the word "Unanimous," switching to "A hun'red percen' "
  • Robotic Reveal: While Francesca's not exactly human nature is hinted at throughout the movie, Felix isn't even hinted at until he starts glitching out during the finale. Unless he's pretending to woo Francesca.
  • Shout-Out: Several.
    • Dracula refers to himself as the original Batman at one point.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Yetch is obsessed with Francesca.
  • Skeletal Musicians: Little Tibia and the Fibias, a rock band composed of skeletons.
  • Taking You with Me: It has captured the Baron and all the other monsters at the end of the film. The Baron decides not only that It is too dangerous to allow to live, but all the other monsters are too petty and greedy. So he drops the vial of matter-destroying formula, destroying himself, It, all the other monsters, and the entire Isle of Evil itself.
  • Villain Song: "Our Time To Shine" qualifies.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Or, in the case of the Hunchback, pink.