#289 Mad Monster Party?

Watched: January 19 2021

Director: Jules Bass

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

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 34min

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Baron Boris von Frankenstein (Karloff) has made the discovery of a lifetime – the means to utterly destroy matter. As is tradition, he decides to celebrate his destructive invention with a party, and everyone’s invited.

“Death and destruction always goes best with dinner and dancing. Time to party!”

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And by everone, we mean everyone. Sure, there are the usual suspects. Dracula, a werewolf, a mummy, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the creature from the Black Lagoon, the invisible man, a certain French hunchback, and of course the Baron’s own famous creation and his fabulous wife.

“Sorry about the outfit, Baron. I’ve been an understudy in a live stage production about Sinbad the Sailor”

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In addition to these famous monsters though, a clumsy but well meaning young pharmacist named Felix also gets an invitation to the party. Because the Baron has another objective for the weekend. He wants to name his successor as head of the worldwide organization of monsters.

Even monsters are able to unionize. Why can’t employees of major international companies? Come on, people!

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While his close assistant Francesca (Garnett) sees herself as her boss’s natural heiress, she soon learns that Felix is Frankenstein’s nephew and thus nepotism demands that he will be the one to inherit his uncle’s assets. Which seems like a very bad idea given Felix’s nature. Francesca teams up with Dracula to get rid of the competition…

How long can a mere mortal be expected to survive on an island inhabited by monsters..? He won’t be in the running for long.

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We didn’t grow up with this movie (what gives, Norway in the 80s and 90s?), but you had us at “stop-motion animation with a horror theme and Poe references”. Mad Monster Party? is silly, funny, sweet, and filled with puns and gags.

It also has a very well trained zombie horde. And one who tends to lose his head a lot. Especially around women he feels are owed to him…

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Allen Swift does pretty much all the voices and he does a marvellous job, riddled with impressions. In addition, you have musical numbers, a wonderful tap dancing Dracula, an Incel zombie and an unlikely love affair. This is an animation movie for kids and adults alike, and thoroughly entertaining. Loved it!

Did we mention that there’s a skeleton rock band? ‘Cause there’s a skeleton rock band.

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By the way, this movie brought to mind Toonsylvania, more specifically “Igor’s Science Minute” where he sings the names of the natural elements, and now we can’t get it out of our heads. If anyone is sitting on a copy of that video, please get in touch. We NEED to rewatch it.

“Hydrogen, heeeelium, lithium, beryllium, boron, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, fluoooorine, neeeeon…”
This is what we’re talking about. If you know it you know it.

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What we learned: If you’re going to leave your evil empire to someone, perhaps vet them a bit first? Also, the trick to defeating monsters is not to fear them. And powerful explosives. That works too.

Next time: Playtime (1967)

Bonus: The Curse of Frankenstein

Watched: December 25 2017

Director: Terence Fisher

Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Hazel Court, Robert Urquhart, Valerie Gaunt

Year: 1957

Runtime: 1h 22min

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Victor Frankenstein (Cushing) is smart, ambitious, handsome, charming and rich. He is also an arrogant jerk. And imprisoned. He confesses to a priest and tells his unusual, and somewhat unbelievable, story.

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“It all started, as these things tend to do, with a dead dog…”

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Orphaned at a fairly young age, Baron Frankenstein hires his own tutor, Paul Krempe (Urquhart), to be his teacher and later partner. Together the two explore the world of science!

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That’s just normal glass – his eyes are really like that. If you don’t believe us, watch Top Secret (1984)

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Their greatest achievement, the reanimation of dead tissue, brings about different reactions in the two scientists. While Kempe’s initial reactions is “yay! This’ll make surgery so much easier and safer!”, Frankenstein’s first impulse is to go out and harvest body parts to make himself a new man-puzzle. Kempe finally starts to see the sociopath in his student, and they have a falling out.

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“It’s MY turn to reanimate the corpse!” “No, it’s MINE!” “Who’s the one paying for all this?” “Screw this, I’m out.”

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Things escalate when Victor straight up murders another intellectual to use his brain for his creation, and then uses his successfully assembled and animated creature (Lee) to kill his knocked up maid Justine (Gaunt) who threatens to expose his shady dealings if he does not marry her.

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“Sorry, sweetheart – you’re certainly not good enough for the likes of me. Think of what the children will be like??? No, I’m engaged to marry my cousin. Yay gene pool!”

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Meanwhile, Victor’s cousin Elizabeth (Court) has arrived to marry him, which adds another complication. With the death toll rising, a creature on the loose, a falling out between the friends, and a Fair Maiden innocently roaming the large house at night, how on earth will this end?

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Let’s face it: fancy, defenseless ladies roaming around castles in the night with only a small lamp for company are usually not indicative of happy endings…

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The Curse of Frankenstein is quite different from its early predecessor Frankenstein despite their many similarities. For one, the monster (or, in this case, creature) isn’t really all that important. As creepy and scary as Christopher Lee is in this, the focus is all on the Mad Scientist Victor Frankenstein.

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For such an unfortunate looking creature, he’s a surprisingly snappy dresser!

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Frankenstein himself is also very different. Personally, we feel that this take on the Baron is closer to the source material than many other incarnations – he really is an arrogant, egotistical, spoiled brat with a God complex in the book, no matter how bad he feels once everything falls apart. Cushing’s Frankenstein is particularly ruthless, and we love him for it. Well, not him as much as this version of events, we suppose. But we definitely love this film!

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…and this guy! #decompositionchic

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What we learned: If you’re going to stand up to a rich, insane, megalomaniac nobleman who doesn’t like being told what to do, you’d better have a contingency plan…

Next time: The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

#16 Frankenstein

Watched: August 14 2016

Director: James Whale

Starring: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff

Year: 1931

Runtime: 1h 10min

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Another classic horror film (and old favourite of ours), Frankenstein probably needs no further introduction. But we’ll give you one anyway. Somewhere in Germany (we assume), the “astonishingly sane” Henry (not Victor for some reason) Frankenstein and his hunchback assistant Fritz (not Igor) are building a man from human cadavers. Frankenstein believes he has the knowledge and technology to reanimate the dead, and he succeeds in his efforts only to regret his decision almost immediately. They then go on to lock up and torture the poor creature (wonderfully portrayed by Boris Karloff) before leaving it to fend for itself while its creator gets married. Excellent parenting there.

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A face only a father could love. But didn’t.

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The film is basically about a bunch of horrible people doing horrible things to a (more or less) defenceless innocent newborn and who are subsequently surprised when said newborn tries to defend himself and turns on them. Seriously, they all had it coming.

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Except Maria. She was adorable and sweet.

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Fritz, however, was a cunt.

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Angry mobs and fire abound, as do pretty dresses. The ending is heartbreaking, although we suspect it would have been hard for the Creature to attempt a normal life.

The film takes its concept and some of the story from Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, but it differs in many respects. However, this film is possibly even more iconic than the book, so much so that many of the things people believe about Frankenstein come from Whale’s film rather than Shelley’s original (such as the character of Igor, the use of electricity to awaken the monster and the bolts on his neck).

We recommend both reading the book and watching the film, as you cannot have enough Frankenstein in your life. Then watch other film versions (especially Young Frankenstein [1974]). Then reread the novel.

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Then get this hairdo.

In conclusion: you need to watch this film. But if you do not feel for the Creature you are a coldhearted bastard and we will have nothing more to do with you.

Things we learned: there’s not enough Bavarian folk dancing in our lives.

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Bonus pic: our little monster watching Frankenstein with us. He loved it but refused to watch the ending.

Next time: Little Caesar (1931)