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    Ian Jane
    Administrator

  • Mad Monster Party (Blu-ray)



    Released by: Lionsgate
    Released on: September 4, 2012.

    Director: Jules Bass

    Cast: Boris Karloff, Phyllis Diller, Allen Swift, Gale Garnett

    Year: 1967

    Purchase From Amazon


    The Movie:


    Haven't ever had the joy of watching Rankin-Bass' Mad Monster Party? Here's the deal. The story is set on the Island Of Evil and begins when Baron von Frankenstein (voiced by Boris Karloff) makes a breakthrough when he discovers the secret to destroying matter. At this point, he more or less decides to retire from the mad scientist gig, and so he calls up all his monster pals - Frankenstein's monster, his bride (voiced by Phyllis Diller), Dracula, Dr. Jekyll, The Wolfman, The Creature, The Mummy and a Hunchback - to announce his decision. Then it comes time to pick a successor, and much to the dismay of the monsters, he chooses his bookwormish nephew, Felix Flanken (Allen Swift).


    The monsters are very upset about this as they were hoping that one of their own would be chosen. Given that Felix is not only human but also a bit of a bumbling goofball, though one with the best of intentions, they decide to eliminate him from the picture all together. Complicating matters is the presence of the doctor's foxy laboratory assistant, Francesca (Gale Garnett), a beautiful but mysterious redhead, and the impending arrival of the giant ape known only as IT!


    A wonderful mix of the horror comedy inspired by the likes of Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein and the charming holiday inspired animated awesomeness of Rankin-Bass' earlier Rudolph The Red Nosed Raindeer, Mad Monster Part is, in a word, awesome. It's awesome not because it tells a particularly engrossing story or because it moves at an amazing pace and keeps you glued to your seat - it does neither of these things. It's awesome because it's quite possibly the most completely charming monster movie aimed at a children's audience ever made. There's such loving attention to detail in all the design work here and such a genuine spirit of fun that the movie is endlessly rewatchable. Sure, the monsters are all out to off poor Felix but you know it's never going to happen and that their attempts will result in nothing more than silly slapstick puppet humor but it's still a blast to watch even if you know how it's all going to play out.


    Featuring some great production design work by legendary EC Comics artists Jack Davis and a script from Harvey Kurtzman, the film gets the look of the monsters and the island where all of this plays out down perfectly. Obviously an inspiration on later stop motion 'horror' movies like Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas, the musical numbers that come courtesy of composer Maury Laws will have your foot tapping (dig that skeleton mod rock band) in no time. Definitely perfect Halloween viewing for kids of all ages.


    Video/Audio/Extras:


    Mad Monster Party looks much better on Blu-ray than it did on DVD, presented here by Lionsgate in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer in 1.33.1 fullrame. Detail is as strong as the materials used to animate the movie will allow, which is surprisingly good considering that the whole thing was made with puppets. There's some great texture here and very nice color reproduction and the disc is well authored in such a way as that there are not any distracting issues with edge enhancement or noise reduction. There are some minor instances of print damage here and there but overall the image is clean and nicely colored with solid blacks and nicely replicated brighter hues, the reds in Francesca's hair being a great example.


    Audio chores are handled well by the English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track included on the disc. There are no alternate language options but subtitles are provided in English, English SDH and Spanish. There are no complaints here - the levels are properly balanced, there are no issues with any trace of hiss or distortion and the dialogue is plenty easy to understand. The musical numbers have some nice punch and resonance to them and all in all, the movie sounds just fine.


    The most substantial extras on the disc is a fifteen minute long featurette entitled Mad Monster Party? - The Making of a Cult Classic which starts off by exploring the history of Rankin-Bass before highlighting the success that the company encountered in the wake of the hit 1964 Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer special. From there we learn how and why Mad Monster Party was created, who did what, and how it all worked out. It's quite interesting, as is the ten minute companion piece, It's Sheer Animagic! The Secrets Of Stop-Motion Animation which is, as the title implies, a look at just exactly how the technique used to bring the puppets to life in this movie works. Some interesting demonstrations show us the science behind the art, this is worth watching. Less substantial but nice to see is the four minute Groovy Ghouls! The Music Of Mad Monster Party, which pays respect to composer Maury Laws, and the five minute Sing-A-Longs bit which allows us to sing along to some of the songs in the movie by following the bouncing ball.


    The film's trailer, some animated menus and chapter selection round out the extras and as this is a combo pack release, a standard DVD disc is included inside the packaging as well. All of the extras on the Blu-ray disc are in standard definition. It would have been cool to see the cell animation sequel - Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters - included here but that didn't happen.


    The Final Word:


    Mad Monster Party remains one of the absolute coolest stop motion animation pictures of all time and this Blu-ray from Lionsgate offers it up in very nice shape and with a couple of modest supplements to accompany an excellent feature attraction.


    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!





















    • Randy G
      #1
      Randy G
      Senior Member
      Randy G commented
      Editing a comment
      Shocked that I never heard of this, looks terrific.

    • Ian Miller
      #2
      Ian Miller
      Flattery and foreplay
      Ian Miller commented
      Editing a comment
      You nailed my position on this film for me: I love everything about it except for the story which never sticks in my mind. Looks better than ever, guess I need it for Halloween, dangit!
    Posting comments is disabled.

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