Mad Monster Party (Bluray/DVD Combo)

Like many of you folks who have survived past the age of 40, I remember relishing all those silly stop-motion holiday specials by the team of Rankin and Bass. Well, you may remember those names, but I’m sure you’ve seen their work which included the classics, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “Frosty the Snowman”, and “the Little Drummer Boy” (as well as numerous others). I used to sit around with my family and watch these wonderful little films whenever the season called for their airings. As a matter of fact I’ve seen these shows so many times, that most of the songs are still buried in my head (“Put one foot in front of the other…”).

There is one little problem I had with the networks that would air these specials however, but it did not deal directly with the shows themselves, but rather the lack of airings my absolute favorite one was granted. Halloween is absolutely my favorite of all the holidays and when I was really young I twice saw a great little holiday special called “Mad Monster Party.”

After that, I used to wait until every Halloween and scour the TV guide, hoping it would get shown again, but it wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I caught a showing on some cable channel, but of course, it was horribly cut up.

The plot revolved around Baron Von Frankenstein (voiced by ‘The Man’ Boris Karloff), calling together all of the classic monsters for a convention at his castle. Amongst the invitees are Dracula, the Wolf Man, The Mummy, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, and The Invisible Man. But that’s just the cream of the crop. It is the Baron’s intention to to announce his retirement and that his replacement is to be his nebbish nephew Felix. Needless to say, no one (including Felix) thinks he’s the right guy to take over for the Baron, so they all scheme to steal his ultimate secret in order to fill the role.

Having Karloff involved was a great coup for Rankin and Bass, but it was not he only one. At the timecomedienne Phyllis Diller (who sadly just passed away) was still very much at the top of her game, and they wrangled her to voice The Creature’s Bride. Most of the rest of the male voices were done by Alan Swift, whose work is amazing considering you’d never know it was one guy doing them all just by listening.

Imagine my surprise when I saw the announcement that Lionsgate was releasing “Mad Monster Party” in a Blu-ray/DVD Combo pack. You can bet your bottom dollar that I was immediately on the horn to request a copy so I could check it out. After eye-balling the wonderfully colorful packaging, I popped it in the player and kicked back to enjoy and reminisce.

This Blu-ray release offered a watchable version, given the film’s age and the fact that the original negatives were damaged a long time ago. The image is pretty sharp and details on the puppets are fun to pick out, but there are some blemishes and a bit of color fading throughout. Not horrible, but certainly not pristine. The image is still only offered up as full screen, as it was originally intended but I am fine with this as well.

I also did not expect anything fantastic in regards to the audio. Offered here is the original mono soundtrack which is certainly adequate for watching this film. Some of the audio is garbled, but not enough to complain about, again considering its age.

There was a DVD release back in 2005 which did not have any special features, but this new release changed that, much to my delight. A 15 minute ‘Making of’ was nice to see and it gave some background into how Rankin Bass was formed and the events that led to the making of “Mad Monster Party.” There is also an example of how stop motion animation is performed as well as a nice ode to composer Maury Laws. A trailer and sing-a-long feature close out the extras.

 “Mad Monster Party” was almost destined to be forever lost, but thanks to the folks at Lionsgate, it has been given a new lease on life. Here’s hoping it becomes the holiday classic it deserves to be!!

Directed by: Jules Bass

Starring (the voice of): Boris Karloff, Phyllis Diller, Alan Swift, Gale Garnett

Extras: The Making of a Cult Classic; The Music of Mad Monster Party; Sing-A-Longs; Trailer

Specifications: Full Screen

Studio: Lionsgate

Release Date: 9/4/2012

MPAA Rating: NR

http://www.lionsgateshop.com/product.asp?Id=27074&TitleParentId=6277

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