It’s Scaretober, y’all! Woot! Woot! October is my favorite month, so get ready. I’m pulling out all the stops. To celebrate, I’m sharing my favorite scary fun books and movies. All. Month. Long.
Let’s get to it!
Today’s Feature: Mad Monster Party, the movie (1967)
This was one of my all-time favorite movies when I was a kid. It aired on television every year around Halloween, until it suddenly didn’t. This special seemed to vanish into thin air, and I was left with nothing but a vague memory of a stop-motion animated Halloween special featuring Frankenstein and a red-headed woman. I searched for this movie for years, but no one had ever heard of it or seemed to remember it. It was nearly impossible to track down.
Alas, I wasn’t imagining it. That long-forgotten special was Mad Monster Party, a 1967 “Animagic” musical movie made by Rankin and Bass, the same studio that brought us the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special. Mad Monster Party stars Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller. Yeah. You read that right. Boris Karloff. Full stop. The screenplay was written by Mad Magazine cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman.
Boris Karloff is the voice of Baron Boris von Frankenstein, a mad scientist who has discovered the secret formula for total destruction. (Note this is Karloff’s last performance as a Frankenstein-related character.) He invites all of his monster pals to the Isle of Evil, his castle fortress on an island in the Caribbean. He plans to share his invention, announce his retirement, and pass along his secrets to his chosen heir. The main plot? The monsters’ duplicitous attempts to steal the secrets or secure their place as Frankenstein’s heir. All of the great Universal Monsters make an appearance. The Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Bride of Frankenstein (hello, it’s Phyllis Diller), Dracula, Dr. Jekyl, The Mummy, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Wolfman, and the Invisible Man. The studio did take some creative license and add two new characters into the fray, Francesca, Frankenstein’s smoking-hot red-headed assistant, and his hapless human nephew. Let’s just say hijinks ensue.
I’ll be frank. This movie is dated and hasn’t held up well. I mean, check out the red “Mod” wigs on the skeleton band in the trailer! But, it’s still fun. And honestly, the highlight of the movie for me as an adult is the epic theme song by the one and only Ethel Ennis. That song is still a staple on my annual Halloween soundtrack.