31 in 31 – “Mad Monster Party?”

“Uncle? I may have the blood for the job, but I sure don’t have the stomach for it.”

Story: Baron von Frankenstein has done it!He’s discovered the secret to pure destruction! Time retire, and leave everything to his klutzy human nephew Felix. But the monsters – and Frankenstein’s assistant Francesca – think they’re a better choice.

Scares: Only if you’re very young. Otherwise this is fun not frightening.

Splat factor: Zero, unless you count poor Yetch constantly losing his head.

Closing scene “shocker”?: You could say there is a small one.

Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?: Based on monsters we know and love, with the lovely Rankin Bass animation we all know. But this is 100% original.

Trick or Treat?: Yes, the question mark is part of the title, not a typo on my part. Party is a full length film, a departure from the typical Rankin Bass hour long Christmas specials we see every December.

Okay, there’s a reason or two why Party isn’t on the same level as those specials. There’s a bit of padding here and there, and a few shifts in the plot that come out of nowhere, as if the film was edited with a chainsaw. And don’t get me started on how Francesca falls in love with Felix immediately after he slaps her… This is not the way, kids. Still, the “Animagic” is fun, and this could be the start of a conversation on how to treat others. Right? Sure.

The good? There’s plenty of deadpan humor in the dialogue that’s so dry it’s almost fourth wall breaking. All the songs are so retro they’re glorious; the Bond-esque opening song sets the stage for lots of tongue in cheek 60s poppy grooves. The overall vibe is Mad Men‘s wild Halloween episode, minus the advertising. Crazy man, real gone.

Then there’s the voice cast, which includes Phyllis Diller as the Bride of Frankenstein (with her moaning hubby-monster Fang) and the man himself, Boris Karloff as the Baron. Rankin Bass voice regular Alan Swift does the heavy lifting for all the monsters and a Jimmy Stewart-esqe Felix.

So to wrap; pie fights, cat fights, head bowling, and lots of jokes based on particular monster tropes? Yes please! While kids may stick around for the sillyness, grownups will enjoy the 60s aesthetic and the Rankin Bass awesomeness. Thirty minutes could have been shaved off easily, but I’m not mad at the excess of Karloff and stop motion animation.

Score: 3.5 out of 5 pumpkins.

About Denise

Professional nerd. Lover of licorice.
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