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Western Animation / Mad Monster Party

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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 identifies 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) prequel of sorts, Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters (1972), a 2D-animated 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".

Although obviously meant to evoke it, the movie has no official ties to the Universal Horror franchise, even in the same loose-continuity way as Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

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


Tropes present in Mad Monster Party include:

  • Actor Allusion This isn’t the first time Allen Swift played a vampire.
  • 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 in the original film, the comic adaptation by Dell Comics instead changed him into a giant humanoid fish monster.
  • Adapted Out: The comic book adaptation by Dell Comics leaves out the Creature as well as the captain and first mate of the ship the monsters and Felix took to Baron von Frankenstein's island.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Francesca is utterly repulsed by Yetch's attraction to her.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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: The prequel has the Monster and his bride seen with a baby in tow in the end credits.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: The Wolf Man 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?
  • 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.
  • 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 the prequel); — 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 or 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 the zombie assumes that she told him to creep.
    • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Felix falls for Francesca almost right away.
  • 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.
  • Incredibly Lame 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!
  • 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, natch. 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.
  • Kid with the Leash: Monster's Mate orders the Monster around, but he isn't above defying her.
  • Kill 'Em All: With the exception of Felix and Francesca, Dr. Frankenstein uses the matter-destroying formula to kill him, It, and every single monster on the Isle of Evil. This is due to It being to dangerous to be allowed to live, and the other monsters being far too greedy and selfish for Boris to trust with his secret of destruction. This also destroys the island itself; leaving no trace the formula ever existed or any of the monsters.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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: The prequel at one point has Baron von Frankenstein use the Mummy's wrappings to enable the monsters to get across a cliff, leaving the mummy briefly naked.
  • Nice Guy: Felix is a friendly, unassuming person.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Yetch's voice and character design are modeled on Peter Lorre; those of The Invisible Man (insofar as he can be seen), on Sydney Greenstreet. Felix's voice is very similar to that of Jimmy Stewart, though the character design does not resemble him much.
    • In the prequel, though Baron von Frankenstein is voiced by Bob McFadden, 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 is a vocal impression of Charles Laughton, aka Captain Bligh.
  • 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.
  • Not So Different: 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 Zombies Are Different: Yetch is unusually energetic for a zombie. There's also a group of generic zombie workers.
  • Parental Bonus: The prequel 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'".
  • 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: 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 isn't even implied 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.
    • The prequel 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 there were going 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.
  • The Unintelligible: Quasimodo.
  • Villain Song: "Our Time to Shine" qualifies, as Francesca sings it after forming an alliance with Dracula to eliminate Baron von Frankenstein's heir.
  • 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?"
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Or, in the case of the Hunchback, pink.


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