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Western Animation / Mad Monster Party?

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Promotional art by Frank Frazetta.

Produced by Rankin/Bass and released in 1967, the Stop Motion puppet animated (called "Animagic") feature-length film Mad Monster Party? is a get-together of many classic monsters, as designed by MAD cartoonist Jack Davis.

The brilliant and devious Baron von Frankenstein (voiced by Boris Karloff), creator of the Monster (voiced by Alan Swift) and his Mate (voiced by Phyllis Diller), has concocted a vial of potion capable of destroying matter. Delighted by his latest success, the Baron decides to retire while still the best, 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 (also voiced by Swift). Attending the party, in addition to the Monster and his Mate, are Count Dracula, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Invisible Man, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dr. Jekyll and his alter-ego, the Werewolf, and the Mummy (all voiced by Swift). Also present are the Baron's assistant, the attractive redhead Francesca (voiced by Gale Garnett); and the "zombie" butler Yetch (yep, Swift again), who is obsessed with her. Not invited to the party is a monster the Baron only identifies as "It", who, in the climax, is revealed to be none other than King Kong. Needless to say, when the monsters discover the Baron's plan to entrust his secrets with Felix instead of one of them, they are outraged. Hilarity and chaos ensue.

The film was under-promoted and did poorly in its initial theatrical release, but has since become a Cult Classic. Five years later, in 1972, Rankin/Bass would give the film an unofficial (and somewhat illogical) prequel of sorts, Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters, a traditionally animated TV Movie for the anthology series ABC Saturday Superstar Movies, using most of the original Jack Davis character designs, though dropping Phyllis Diller for a "Monstress", whose marriage to Franksenstein's Monster is the centerpiece of the story.

Although obviously meant to evoke it, the film has no official ties to the Universal Horror franchise, even in the same loose-continuity way as Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Not to be confused with the crime biopic Party Monster.

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

Mad Trope Party:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Francesca is utterly repulsed by Yetch's attraction to her.
  • Actor Allusion
    • This isn’t the first time Allen Swift voiced a vampire.
    • The Monster's Mate is basically a monster version of Phyllis Diller. She has Diller"s signature laugh, and refers to the Monster as "Fang".
    • In Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters, the Werewolf is given the name "Ron Chanley", while The Invisible Man is given the name "Claude".
    • Perhaps the greatest of all: Boris Karloff went from playing Frankenstein's Monster to playing Dr. Frankenstein (named Boris).
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Felix and Francesca respectively have brown hair and red hair, but both have black hair in Dell Comics' comic adaptation of the film.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: The comic adaptation by Dell changes "It" from a King Kong Captain Ersatz into a giant humanoid fish monster, yet leaves Felix's offering of giving the monster a banana and Baron von Frankenstein addressing the monster as an overgrown chimpanzee untouched.
  • Adaptation Species Change: While "It" was a clear Captain Ersatz of King Kong, the Dell Comics adaptation of the film instead changed him into a giant humanoid fish monster.
  • Adapted Out: The comic book adaptation removes the Creature as well as the captain and first mate of the ship the monsters and Felix took to Baron von Frankenstein's island.
  • Aggressive Negotiations: The S.S. Herring hadn't been going to the Isle of Evil until they got a strange bunch of horrifying passengers who were under the impression that it was. This was done largely by accident on the monsters' part, and especially on Felix's part.
  • Alliterative Name: Felix Flankin, the Baron's nephew.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: When Yetch is flicked away by It, his exclamation of surprise is "Oy vey!"
  • Angry Chef: Mafia Machiavelli, who gets upset when Yetch suggests the hyena casserole is missing something; he throws knives at Yetch.
  • Awful Wedded Life: There's not a single moment in Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters where it even seems like the Invisible Man and the Invisible Woman were ever Happily Married. It's even addressed that Nagatha's mother advised her against marrying Claude and that Claude actually agrees with his mother-in-law on that matter.
  • Aw, 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: In Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters, the Monster and his bride are seen with a baby in tow in the end credits.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: The Werewolf doesn't wear shoes.
  • Berserk Button: When Yetch tells Chef Mafia Machiavelli that his hyena casserole is missing something, he flips out and throws knives at Yetch.
  • Black Comedy:
    Baron: After the party, there was nothing but a huge pile of leftovers!
    Francesca: I wonder who it was?
    • Later at the climax, when Dr. Frankenstein uses the anti-matter formula to blow up himself, the monsters and the island, Felix and Francesca can do little but watch. Felix voices that although this is supposed to be a horrible spectacle, there's something about it that reminds him so much of fireworks that he has the urge to sing "Auld Lang Syne".
  • Blind Without 'Em: Felix can't see a thing without his glasses, which allows him to encounter the Wolf Man and the Invisible Man without noticing anything amiss.
  • Breath Weapon: The Creature from the Black Lagoon expy can exhale water, and does so uncontrollably when snoring.
  • Butterface: The Monstress in Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters has her face obscured from view for most of the film and is clearly shapely and alluring. When her face is finally shown near the end when she weds the Monster, it is shown that she has a skull-like countenance.
  • 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 Chanley" in Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters); — and how could anyone even begin to think that "It" had anything to do with any movie ever previously made?
  • Card-Carrying Villain: It goes without saying when you live on a place called the Isle of Evil, doesn’t it?
  • Cat Fight: There's a cat fight 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 he assumes that she ordered him to creep and readily does so.
    • Much later on, he attempts to get her to kiss him, but "It" comes along and casually flicks him through the air. His reaction is to casually drawl, "Ooh, your keeses send me to ze mooooon!"
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: There were two comic book adaptations of this film.
    • A one-shot published by Dell Comics in 1967, a few months after the film's original release.
    • A four-issue miniseries published by Black Bear Press in 1999.
  • Composite Character: The Werewolf may be considered one of Larry Talbot and Bela from The Wolf Man (1941). He has a somewhat similar design to Larry's werewolf form, while his costuming seems to suggest he's meant to be Romani like Bela was.
  • The Dead Can Dance: At one point, the Mate is dancing with the Mummy to "Do the Mummy", performed by the rock band Little Tibia and the Fibias, which consists entirely of living skeletons.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The Baron genuinely cares for Felix and Francesca, enough to sacrifice himself to let them escape at the end of the movie.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The reason the Baron doesn't invite "It" to the party is that he found that monster's behavior disgusting.
  • Evil Brit: Mr. Hyde, since he's Dr. Jekyll's evil alter ego and has a British accent.
  • Expy: The Hunchback of Notre Dame may not have been invited to the wedding in Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters, but Igor sure seems to be filling in for him.
  • Extreme Omnivore:
    • The Monster at one point eats an entire wineglass.
    • In Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters, Ron Chandley licks his plate clean and then proceeds to devour the plate itself.
  • Fiery Redhead: Francesca has bright red hair and quite the temper.
  • The Fool: During one scene, Felix manages to successfully evade the attacks of multiple monsters by sheer dumb luck.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: The Monster and his Mate play an important role in the story and setting.
  • Good Is Dumb: Felix is a kindly, dim, clumsy fellow.
  • 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, abandons her plan to do away with him.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In order to buy enough time for Felix and Francesca to escape, the Baron hops into a biplane and goes to attack It.
  • High-Class Glass: Dracula's got a monocle.
  • Human Hammer-Throw: While Frankenstein's Monster is fighting with Dracula, he holds him by the legs, spins around several times and throws him away.
  • The Igor:
    • Yetch is a bit like your typical mad scientist's assistant, complete with his voice being a Peter Lorre impression.
    • The hunchbacked assistant himself is one of the main characters in Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters, with some conflict formed from Igor wanting the Monster's bride to himself and actively trying to defy Dr. Frankenstein's insistence that the Monstress is to wed the Monster.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Seems to be the case for Felix and Francesca after she reveals to him that she's actually a robot created by the Baron, Felix tells her that nobody's perfect. Subverted as he's revealed to be a robot himself when he starts malfunctioning and his sentence starts skipping.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Two characters resemble the actors voicing them. They are Boris Karloff as Baron von Frankenstein and Phyllis Diller as the Monster's Mate (down to her signature laugh).
  • In the Blood: Baron von Frankenstein believes that Felix's Frankenstein blood will make him a natural heir to his job as head of the Worldwide Organization of Monsters. Felix is less certain of this, but the Baron says the younger man is just like he was when he was young.
  • Invisible Streaker: The Invisible Man, as usual, is made visible by his clothes and removes his fez, glasses and bathrobe to swim to the Isle of Evil. Although he is somehow able to make his fez and glasses appear out of nowhere even after chucking them away.
  • Insult Backfire: When Yetch enters Chef Machiavelli's kitchen to check on the food:
    Chef Machiavelli: Yetch, what are you a-doing in my kitchen, huh? You no-good snake in the grass, you dirty swine, you ugly rat!
    Yetch: Oh, thank you for those kind words. I hope I can live up to them.
  • 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.
  • Jumping Out of a Cake: The Frankenstein monster's bachelor party in Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters had a witch fly out of a cake.
  • Karloff Kopy: Averted in the original film, as Baron Frankenstein is an Ink-Suit Actor of the real Boris Karloff, but it is played straight in the prequel Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters, as an inexorable consequence to Karloff's passing between films is that Baron Frankenstein is now voiced by Allen Swift impersonating Karloff.
  • Kid with the Leash: Monster's Mate orders the Monster around, but he isn't above defying her.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Dr. Jekyll, in a rare villainous example, though his alter ego averts this in that his chin isn't as big.
  • Lethal Chef: Literally! Chef Machiavelli serves a salad made with the most poisonous plants in the world, and has actual poisons (and nitroglycerin!) as side dressings. One of his appetizers is black widows served in their own poison.
  • Life of the Party: The Werewolf is this, with Dracula noting that the convention's going to be a blast with him around.
  • Lorre Lookalike: Yetch is basically a blue-skinned Peter Lorre, complete with voice.
  • 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."
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Francesca and Felix play with this a bit, since she's a strong, independent woman and he's a somewhat cowardly, nerdy overall Nice Guy.
  • Mirror-Cracking Ugly: In Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters, the monster's bride at one point breaks a mirror by looking at it.
  • Monster Mash: The film features Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Mummy, the Creature, the Invisible Man, Jekyll and Hyde, and a few zombies and animated skeletons as well.
  • Mood-Swinger: Francesca briefly becomes one after Felix rescues her from the moat, switching from anger to despair to instant infatuation.
  • Naked People Are Funny: At one point in Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters, Baron von Frankenstein uses the Mummy's wrappings to enable the monsters to get across a cliff, leaving the Mummy briefly naked.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: In Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters, Modzoola gets a tongue-lashing from his wife for being unfaithful to her by pursuing the Monstress. While she doesn't really say anything intelligible, Baron Frankenstein's reaction implies she is swearing.
    Baron Frankenstein: My word! I've never heard a woman use such language!
  • Nice Guy: Felix is a friendly, unassuming person.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Baron von Frankenstein feels that Felix isn't too different from himself as a youth.
  • Oh God, with the Verbing!: When Yetch goes to the kitchen to check on the food:
    Chef Machiavelli: Oh, it's nothing. [sings to the tune of "Funiculi, Funicula" and starts pinching Yetch] Just a pinch-a this, a pinch-a that, a pinch-a this, a pinch-a that...
    Yetch: Ow! Stop already with the pinching!
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The werewolf is one of the characters.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Francesca calls Yetch a zombie, but this might have been a mere insult. In any case, Yetch looks nothing like the other zombies nor behaves like them and at one point addresses them with "you zombies", an odd thing to say if he were one himself. Keeping the movie's year of release in mind, the others are also Voodoo zombies, while nothing suggests Yetch is. Whatever the case, Yetch displays the abilities to lose and reattach limbs and for his body parts to operate independently, something only Frankenstein's Monster is confirmed to be capable of (when his mate mentions confiscating his wandering eyes). Furthermore, Yetch mentions having a sickness he's very attached to. He fills the role of the Igor to Baron Von Frankenstein, but eventually is convinced by Dracula to rebel (while the Voodoo zombies stay loyal).
  • Parental Bonus: Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters has some mature jokes, such as the Invisible Man's wife remarking that men are all alike, Igor sharply stating that the details of what the Frankenstein monster did at the office party should not be discussed 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 pronouncing the word unanimous, switching to "a hun'red percen'".
  • Pun: When Francesca is approached by Yetch:
    Yetch: Francesca, it's me, your Don Juan!
    Francesca: I "Don Juan" (don't want) to look at you!
    • The Baron's castle is found on the Isle of Evil (I Love Evil)
  • Questioning Title?: The question mark appears as part of the title onscreen, although promotional materials and home video covers generally omit it.
  • Rapid-Fire Comedy: The Monster's Mate cracks a joke just about every time she opens her mouth. Some of them land decently.
  • Redhead In Green: Red-haired Francesca is in a green dress in the entire latter half of the film.
  • Rescue Romance: Francesca changes her tune on Felix after he saves her from the moat. And um, slaps her.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: In spite of the later revelation that she is an automaton, Francesca apparently breathes and has blood. O-negative, to be precise.
  • Robotic Reveal: While Francesca's not-quite-human nature is hinted at throughout the movie, Felix's isn't even implied until he starts glitching out during the finale. Unless he's pretending in order to woo Francesca.
  • Shout-Out: Several.
    • Dracula refers to himself as the original Batman at one point.
    • Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters features a giant hairy monster named Modzoola. The monster's appearance is likely invoking King Kong, while the name is a clear reference to Godzilla.
    • To MAD magazine: At Kronkite's drug store, he mentions that he has a rack of veeblefetzers to unload. Longtime Mad illustrator Jack Davis designed the creatures, and Harvey Kurtzman (who worked for Mad from 1952-1956), co-wrote the script.
  • Sickly Neurotic Geek: Felix is one of these, although he's a little more dim than most examples.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Francesca has very large eyes that are green.
  • Skeletal Musicians: Little Tibia and the Fibias, a rock band composed of skeletons.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Yetch is obsessed with Francesca.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: As Dracula is whipping the monsters into a frenzy, Yetch asks why the monsters don't just tell Baron von Frankenstein how they feel about making Felix his heir rather than one of them. Dracula shuts him down.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: This seems to be the pun the movie goes for with Dr. Jekyll's unmoving mouth.
  • Super-Strength:
    • Quasimodo is demonstrated as having this.
    • Frankenstein's Monster too, naturally.
    • But It makes them both look like 98lb weaklings.
  • 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 that 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.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Due to both being modeled after Boris Karloff, Baron von Frankenstein and his Monster greatly resemble one other.
  • The Unintelligible: Quasimodo.
  • Vampire Dance: At one point, Count Dracula is dancing with Francesca to "Our Time to Shine".
  • Villain Song: "Our Time to Shine" is the song Francesca sings it after forming an alliance with Dracula to eliminate Baron von Frankenstein's heir.
  • Voodoo Zombie: Most of the staff at Von Frankenstein's castle are zombies with no will or much thought of their own. They obey the doctor and the higher-ups of the staff to the letter.
  • Wham Line: Delivered by Felix to Francesca: "Well, none of us are perfect...are perfect...are perfect...".
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: After the party/brawl we see several scenes of the monsters miserably trying to sleep as best as they can.
  • White Sheep: Frankenstein says that Felix's mother (his youngest sister) was the white sheep of the family, who gave up her life of witchcraft to elope with a traveling salesman.
  • Written Sound Effect: The opening credits song "Mad Monster Party" is filled with Batman style illustrated onomatopoeiac words: "Ugh!" (Frankenstein), "Phew!" (the mummy) "Yipe!" (It), "Zap!" (Ethel Ennis), "Zing!" (Killer Joe Piro), "Zowie!" (Joseph E. Levine), "Gulp!" and "Gluggle!" (Arthur Rankin, Jr.)
  • You Can See That, Right?: The captain and first mate of a ship are waiting for their passengers. Dracula shows up and asks how much passage will cost, and the captain tells him it's a hundred dollars. Dracula says it's too much, turns into a bat and flies away. The first mate says to the captain "Me eyes are playing tricks on me. Did you see wha' I think I saw, captain?"

Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Diversity: The special has more female monsters compared to the original. In addition to the Monstress, both the Invisible Man and Modzoola are given wives. The Wicked Witch of the East even makes a cameo, popping out of a cake...flying on her broomstick.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The special seems to be a prequel to the original film, especially considering the monsters all blow up in the end. On the other hand, Dracula and the Invisible Man have kids that were never mentioned before, suggesting they were born in the interim. The Monstress is implied to be the Monster's first wife, making it unclear if she's the Monster's Mate from the first film. Frankenstein's first name is also changed from Boris to Henry, possibly implying they're not the same character, either, though this may have been simply due to the change in voice actors.
    • Norman is a big fan of the monsters and tries to get their autographs, calling them movie stars, and being one of the only human characters who goes along with the weirdness. It's a little unclear if he thinks they're just humans in costume, and is playing along, or is just a monster fan-boy.
  • Decomposite Character: Harvey resembles Felix and also works for a family hotel. However, Harvey is terrified of the monsters, whereas Felix was too dim to notice anything dangerous was going on. Norman, the bellhop, keeps Felix's schtick of going along with all the weirdness. Though, since the monsters are somewhat friendlier compared to the movie, he doesn't come off as being as stupid as Felix.
  • The Faceless: The Monstress' face is hidden for most of the story. She's usually seen from the back, but occasionally obscures it with a fan or her hair. This is probably done to keep viewers guessing if she's beautiful by human or monster standards. We get to see it when she removes her veil at the wedding. Let's just say she's got a big smile.
  • Lighter and Softer: Visually, the special is more bright and colorful than the stop-motion movie. The monsters also come off as a lot more friendly, though this could just be Villains Out Shopping.
  • Mailman vs. Dog: In Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters, Harvey the mailman gets chased by the Invisible Man's dog as well as Ron Chanley the Werewolf.
  • Noodle Incident: In Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters, when the other monsters reminisce on the Frankenstein monster's glory days, one of them brings up something the monster did at the office party. Before we are given clear details, the Frankenstein monster groans and Igor states that the event should never be brought up.