Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Halloween Count Down: Day 9-Mad Monster Party

Number nine on my list has special meaning for me.

My memory of the first time I saw Mad Monster Party is very vivid. As a child I had a heart problem that eventually needed surgery when I was seven. For years before that I had to go to the hospital for tests, which doesn't put a toddler in a good mood. I came home with my parents, miserable and still scared (doctors can be as scary as a monster when you're four) and turned on the TV to find this movie already in progress. Immediately I forgot the jabs of needles in my little arm and people poking and examining me. This movie made the pain and fear go away, and I'll forever be in it's debt.

Rankin/Bass, who made all those stop motion(they called it Animagic) Rudolph Christmas specials, made Mad Monster Party in 1967 with none other than Boris Karloff performing the voice of an aging Dr. Frankenstein. The script was co-written by Harvey Kurtzman and characters designed by Jack Davis, both Mad Magazine veterans. The premise is that Dr. Frankenstein wants to announce who his successor will be and invites all the monsters to a big party.

It's made for children for the most part. Still some of Kurtzman's dark sense of humor shows through between the monsters singing and clowning around. Today I'm surprised by the stuff that got past censors and parents back then, like some of Felicia's lines (not to mention her curves). Even after all these years I still think it's a wonderful film. Now I get to share it with my daughter and watch her eyes light up as mine did all those years ago.

Until Next Time, Stay Insane!

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