#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: Dr Terror’s House of Horrors

Watched: April 25 2020

Director: Freddie Francis

Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Neil McCallum, Alan Freeman, Bernard Lee, Roy Castle, Michael Gough, Donald Sutherland, Max Adrian, Ursula Howells

Year: 1965

Runtime: 1h 38min

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Six people from different walks of life (and by that we mean 6 middle class white men) meet in a train carriage. One of them, the aptly named Dr Schreck, is a tarot card practitioner and volunteers to read all their fortunes. This goes about as well as you’d expect in a horror film, and all five passengers learn of the terrible fates about to befall them. Should they live long enough to experience it, that is…

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“Let’s play Five Original Ways to Die!”

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dr were
Could it be werewolves?

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dr vine
Or perhaps killer plants?

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dr t voodoo
How about some voodoo? Always a fun and original way to go!

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dr hand
Or perhaps you’re looking for something more along the lines of a disembodied hand looking for revenge?

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dr vampire
I know! Let a future Watcher take you on a vampire hunt. Nothing says classic horror like bloodthirsty fiends lurking in the night sucking the life force from the young and vital.

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This horror anthology is clearly inspired by Dead of Night, and while it doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor, it is very fun and entertaining. Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing are wonderful as always, and Donald Sutherland looks very much like his son (who Sister the Oldest may or may not have had a huge crush on in the early nineties… Think Lost Boys/Young Guns era).

The Lost Boys (1987)Directed by Joel Schumacher Shown: Kiefer Sutherland
Sure, the look might be somewhat dated now, but it certainly worked in 1987! (And in 1992 which was probably around the time the movie [and the style] reached Norway.)

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An excellent little place holder while we wait for access to the rest of the list!

What we learned: Dr Terror sure had an impressively detailed and specific deck of tarot cards!

Next time: Batman (1966)

Bonus: The Curse of the Werewolf

Watched: November 9 2018

Director: Terence Fisher

Starring: Oliver Reed, Clifford Evans, Yvonne Romain, Catherine Feller, Anthony Dawson, Richard Wordsworth, Hira Talfrey

Year: 1961

Runtime: 1h 33min

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Somewhere in 18th century Spain, a beggar (Wordsworth) goes to a castle to ask for some food and/or money. But the marquis (Dawson) is a cruel man and a bully, and he imprisons the beggar and promptly forgets about him. Left in the dungeon for fifteen years, the poor man is forgotten about by all but the jailer and his mute daughter.

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One look at this man and we would have run for our lives. Unfortunately the beggar didn’t share our instincts for people.

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After those fifteen years, the daughter (Romain) refuses to be raped by the marquis, and he throws her in the dungeon with the beggar. Apparently, he has forgotten all about the girl’s kindness to him and rapes her himself, and then dies (karma’s a bitch!).  The girl is sent back to the marquis so that he can have his way with her, but having been raped once already, she’s not about to let the bastard win, so she kills him and flees.

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Sometimes it’s a good, and righteous, thing to be a backstabbing bitch

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The runaway girl, now pregnant, is later found in the woods by Don Alfredo Corledo (Evans) and Teresa (Talfrey) who take her in and, when she dies in childbirth on Christmas Day, take on the responsibility of her newborn son.

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“Say, Teresa, do we know who the boy’s father is..? I only ask because he seems to be displaying some rather unusual dental development here which has me quite confused”

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Turns out though, unwanted children born on Christmas Day are cursed to be werewolves. Which makes us wonder why lycanthropy isn’t a bigger social problem than it currently seems to be. While young Leon (Reed) at first manages to keep his condition under control, once he grows up and faces adversity as well as love, he loses what little control he has and all hell breaks loose.

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Honestly, we were half expecting him to break into song once he had climbed the bell tower. Colour us disappointed.

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The Curse of the Werewolf was removed from the list after we’d already bought it, so as is tradition, we’re doing it anyway, dammit! And we’re glad we did. We loved the opening credits with the sad werewolf, the interesting explanation for the condition, and Leon’s partner in crime (not literally though) José.

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Also, even though it preceeds it by almost 5 decades, this is yet another werewolf better than the atrocity in The Prisoner of Azkaban. No, we’re still not over it.

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In many ways, it’s more a drama than a horror, except the ending which is very Frankenstein. But we believe it works for fans of both genres. Well worth watching! Even though there are apparently at least 1000 films which are better than this one… Let’s call it number 1001 and recommend it anyway. Happy New Year!

What we learned: Don’t give birth to unwanted children on Christmas day. We know, it’s a bit late for 2018, but keep it in mind for next year.

Next time: Bonus: Pit and the Pendulum (1961)