Posts Tagged ‘halloween’
This year the season of shadows is being ushered in with a large dose of kid friendly “scares.” The likes of Hotel Transylvania, ParaNorman, and Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, instantly reminded me of a favorite film of similar demeanor, 1967’s Mad Monster Party. Created by Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass, whose most famous productions like Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer have become Christmas season perennials, Mad Monster Party was a stop motion animation monster rally of epic proportions.
The film features character design by the legendary Jack Davis, the voices of Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller, and its plot-line, co-authored by Mad Magazine’s Harvey Kurtzman, plays like a mash-up of Universal’s Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and AIP’s The Ghost In The Invisible Bikini. Its original poster art was rendered by none other than Frank Frazetta in the multi-character chase motif similar to his Night They Raided Minsky’s, Fearless Vampire Killers and After The Fox advertisements. Though the featured tunes don’t reach the classic repeatable nature of Rankin/Bass Christmas songs, Maury Laws score captures some late 60’s swinging Pink Panther-esque moments.
For Your Video Shelf…
Mad Monster Party is a very fun guilty pleasure that should be nestled in your pile of seasonal viewing musts. It is unquestionably the great grandaddy of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. The Blu-Ray edition was just released at the beginning of last month with plenty of extras.
For Your Collectibles Shelf…
Diamond Select Toys will release their first wave of 7 inch character figures just in time for Halloween. Diamond promises additional characters down the line. Hopefully the wiry Gillman is on the short list. Of course anyone who played in a group called The Skeleton Crew (that would be me) is chomping at the bit to get a guitar wielding skeleton band member.
For Your Book Shelf…
The final word on all things Mad Monster Party can be read in Rankin/Bass aficionado Rick Goldschmidt’s book. It has just gone into its second printing and you can order directly from Rick’s Rankin and Bass website. He will even specially inscribe it if you like.
Ray Bradbury’s “The Halloween Tree” has been on my seasonal must-read pile pretty much every fall since I first purchased the Bantam paperback edition back in 1974. In best Bradbury form it is a classic “boy’s tale” that reveals the origins of all hallow’s eve tradition.
The story originated as a screenplay in 1967 and in the land of “what is and what will never be” would have been produced by animator Chuck Jones (“How The Grinch Stole Christmas) – but it was never realized. I’ve always thought it would make a superb addition to Tim Burton’s stop motion ouevre along with “Corpse Bride” and “Nightmare Before Christmas”. “The Halloween Tree” was animated back in the 1990′s and unfortunately messed with enough to ruin its intent but there is a nice faithful “theater of the mind” radio play version available on CD.