What do you get when you invite Frankenstein’s Monster, the Invisible Man, Wolfman, and more to an island getaway? No, seriously. This isn’t the set-up for some corny joke. It’s actually the premise of Mad Monster Party. That might be the first issue with Mad Monster Party, which is making its premiere on blu-ray on September 4th. It’s a cute enough idea, but the unavoidable question of whether its worth an hour and a half of your time comes up before the first musical number is over. Oh yeah, that’s right, did I mention that it’s a musical? Honestly, there’s a lot of Mad Monster Party that doesn’t work. The musical element may charm certain viewers, but for others, it’s just a mind-numbing distraction from a plot that is already stretched too thin.
Some of my favorite stop-motion movies, particularly A Nightmare before Christmas don’t even come close to the 95-minute running time of Mad Monster Party. Unfortunately, with its elongated running time, Mad Monster Party has little to show for it. Mad Monster Party would function better as an hour-long holiday special, the likes of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or even a half-hour like It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. Strip Mad Monster Party of its more self-congratulatory musical numbers and cut down some of the exposition and Mad Monster Party would be much a stronger movie for it.
That being said, Mad Monster Party is not entirely without its charms. Stop-motion will always hold a very special place in my heart. I remember watching the original holiday classics, like Frosty the Snowman with a curious fascination as a kid. Had I known that they had brought the same animation style to the beloved horror genre, I would have checked out Mad Monster Party a long time ago. Instead, Mad Monster Party remains a secret to a lot of folks my age. Even if its storytelling is flawed and it’s a little too long for its own good, there’s something about the animation style that re-invigorates the feeling of being a kid again.
Still, even the nostalgia does nothing for you, Mad Monster Party holds its his own in regards to its voice casting. Sure, Mad Monster Party is guilty of the hokey dialogue and its human protagonist sounds like a knock-off Jimmy Stewart, but that isn’t all the movie has to offer. Horror fans will be delighted to hear the vocal stylings of Frankenstein’s original monster, Boris Karloff, as Baron von Frankenstein. It’s nice to see (or rather, hear) Karloff pay homage to his roots in the horror genre and the added camp of his involvement is admittedly charming. Even for those who are not fans of Karloff or the horror genre, the late Phyllis Diller is absolutely beguiling as the monster’s mate. Criminally underused, it’s just nice to hear Diller’s dry cackle as she clearly has fun with the part she plays. Karloff and Diller’s vocal talents add a much-needed levity to an otherwise alarmingly dry movie.
Mad Monster Party is a mixed bag of tricks. A thin story and an overly long running time risk making Mad Monster Party an absolute bust. However, the undeniable enjoyment of the stop-motion animation and stellar voice work make Mad Monster Party almost bearable. Not quite a holiday classic nor entirely forgettable, Mad Monster Party is about as odd as its monsters.
Mad Monster Party will be released on blu-ray/DVD combo pack on September 4, 2012. In addition to the feature film, Mad Monster Party features several behind-the-scenes featurettes, sing-alongs, and more.