Thursday, September 26, 2019

Mad Monster Party

Yeah, bet you didn't know Rankin & Bass made a Halloween special.

This is a strange one to talk about, it's the first and only Halloween special from Rankin & Bass, it's not even a special cause its over an hour and a half long, and it was made 3 years after Rudolph so the animation style was still working out the kinks. Everyone talks about the Christmas specials every year so I figured it was time to shine some light on their Halloween work. Our story begins with Baron Frankenstein voiced by the man himself Boris Karloff, who has just created the means of total and absolute destruction, no not atomic weaponry but a serum that can dematerialize anything in the world. After which he sends out letters to all the classic monsters to convene at his castle to announce his retirement and his heir, which leads to much scheming and in fighting between the monsters as to who shall truly be his succesor before their attention is drawn to Frankenstein's meek nephew Felix. So it's a fight for survival between the humans and the monsters with whoever wins gets the destructor serum. A decent plot that fully uses the feature length runtime, yet sadly it's not a very good movie, it's very middle of the road and the highest it reaches is cult classic at best but there are good things to talk about. I was happy to see the Universal Monsters roster in this movie yet even more bizarre things surround that, the company didn't have the rights to the actual names of the monsters so Frankenstein is now called Fang, it's not the Wolf Man but just the Werewolf, Gillman is just called Creature, and King Kong himself is simply named IT. Yes, IT. Strangely enough I saw many more references to monster designs both old and new, Baron Frankenstein has a pet that is literally the Blob, and I swear to God Miyazaki stole the designs from his little soot spider creatures from Spirited Away from this movie. It's a curious little movie with some genuinely fascinating animation, because they have the Invisible Man in this movie but I haven't the faintest clue how they animated him, it's just clothes moving, there's no semblance of a stopmotion figure on camera yet the clothes aren't hanging on wires or anything. I was thoroughly impressed with that but the other animation is your standard Rankin & Bass quality which I do like, and the monster designs are done quite well too. There are songs here and there but none of them are even close to being as catchy or memorable as other productions of theirs, but the musical score is very upbeat and downright groovy seeing as how this was the late 60s when it was released. Our main characters are alright, I mean Boris Karloff doesn't exactly send in a bad performance, Felix is kind of a funny and endearing klutz, and this is such a product of the times but the female assistant to the Baron Francesca.....yeeeaaahh. I mean she's a very goal orientated independent woman but my God does everyone including the kitchen sink hit on her, I mean I'm a sucker for redheads like no one's buisness yet even I was like can you reel it back a bit. And there's one scene. Holy jumpin' Jesus on a fracking pogo stick, okay so through the whole damn movie Francesca is being pursued by almost every monster and she honestly can't stand it but is saved from death by Felix later on in the movie, and she kinda breaks and has a good cry but, oh God. I cannot stress to you enough that this is what actually happens. So Felix, our kind and klutzy hero claims the crying woman is hysterical and slaps her, five fingers across the face, not once but twice....and she immediately falls in love with him. Excuse me one moment I need to just think for a minute.

What the f*** 1960s??! Oh yeah, that's a great lesson for the kids, just smack a woman right across the eyes and she'll love you forever! What in the actual french toast is going on around here! I just...I can't. What were they thinking!?

Okay, I gotta wrap this up before I bust out the bottle of hooch and grab a handful of pills. It's an average special that should only be checked out by the very curious, but maybe someone will get a kick out of it more than me.

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