No, that’s not the doctor from “The Human Centipede.” But he’s the reason I got to thinking about this film. And kind of bears a resemblance of the guy in the trailer if you squint.
Back in the day when VHS was still the standard home choice in viewing media, I came upon this cassette at my local Wherehouse. I had exhausted the entire stock of Disney cartoons and Faerie Tale Theater and wasn’t quite ready to forge ahead into family films. (If it didn’t relate to a story I’d read or came in animated form, I sure as hell wasn’t going to watch it.)
I kid you not, it’s like the tape was calling my name.
The cover wasn’t like the others. It wasn’t brightly colored, there were no happy characters grinning from ear to ear, and it lacked a font that made you feel all kinds of warm ‘n’ fuzzy. Which is probably why it grabbed my attention immediately.
*cue sinister but enticing organ music*
Made in 1967, “Mad Monster Party” served as a kind of family friendly mish-mosh of all the classic monster flicks. I wasn’t old enough to know how evil all of the characters were in origin, but I knew they weren’t playing for the team “The Good Guys.” In retrospect, the monsters were similar to the characters from the Guild of Calamitous Intent: they’re the bad guys, but you want them to be good. Not that good, but that brand of evil that comes with a pinch of morals. Evil aside, this film was made in the classic stop-motion animation of other 60′s hits such as “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and “Jack Frost” and was the next best thing after cartoons. It was a welcomed change from my usual genre of G-rated entertainment.
Baron von Frankenstein is getting ready to retire after decades of creating creatures that defy the laws of nature: Frankenstein’s Monster, the Monster’s Mate, Dracula, the Warewolf, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, the Mummy, etc. Having no children of his own (biological, anyways), he decides to leave everything to his nephew, the brylcreem nerd Felix Flankin. The creatures are severely annoyed. They’re the true heirs to the estate, having been created by the doctor and all. Also, the good Baron hasn’t seen his nephew in years Who’s to say that Felix won’t go mad with power and completely disrupt the course of the monsters’ lives?
It’s the traditional struggle between blood relatives and long-term friends.
Oh yeah. Did I mention that the Baron, as his swan song, created a formula that could potentially wipe out the entire world? Imagine Ice 9 in the form of an explosion. Something else to add to the already potentially deadly mix.
The monsters try to act cordial with each other during the Baron’s retirement dinner, but their nerves are treading on thin ice at best. To make things worse, the Baron’s femme fetal of an assistant, Francesca, is scheming her way to get all of the monsters and Felix to turn on each other. It quickly becomes apparent that someone needs to grab a hold of the Baron’s powerful formula in order to level the playing field, which Francesca and the Monster’s Mate both realize and take a stab at.
(For the guys: cat fight between an old lady and a hot redhead. If you liked the intimate scene in “Team America,” you’ll probably like this one.)
I don’t want to give too much away for the following reasons:
1. A twist in the end that makes you wonder what the prototype of the monsters must have looked like.
2. The last time I saw this film, I was still in a single-digit age. It’s possible that I haven’t seen it in almost twenty years.
This film is kitschy beyond belief. There’s the nod to the cheesy monster films of the 50′s and 60′s, the cliché moments where someone bursts into song, the pun-filled dialog, Boris Karloff, Phyllis Diller…it’s everything but the kitchen sink. I can’t claim this is a classic, but it’s definitely worth a peep. And it’s a lot easier on the system than what I’ve seen in “The Human Centipede” trailer.