A Quirky Halloween Blast From The Past
Many people know about the Claymation Rankin-Bass Christmas films. These well-loved classics are watched by many people every year, as a tradition. But few people know that Rankin-Bass made a Halloween film as well. Unlike the Christmas films, the Rankin-Bass Halloween film, titled Mad Monster Party, has been consigned to a role of obscurity. Now that being said, this Halloween horror classic is not bad, per se.
The film starts off with Baron Boris Von Frankenstein, who has found the formula for what he calls "total destruction." It becomes very clear that this is an allegory for nuclear warfare. The Baron, voiced by Boris Karloff, invites all of the monsters to his castle on the Isle of Evil, to announce his discovery, and to announce his retirement from the "Worldwide Organization of Monsters." Frankenstein's monster lives in the castle with the Baron, and so does the monster's mate, who looks like and is voiced by Phyllis Diller. The other invited monsters include Count Dracula, the Mummy, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Werewolf, the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, and the Creature From The Black Lagoon. The other characters include the Baron's assistant Francesca and the Baron's nephew Felix Flanken.
The monsters and non-monsters begin trying to undermine each other, in their quest to become the favorite of the Baron. Now that being said, this isn't a bad movie, but it needs a severe updating. Phyllis Diller was a big star, back in the sixties, when this film was made, but nowadays, she's not so well-known and although her character adds an interesting dynamic to the film, she has many lines and corny puns that could be deleted from the film altogether, with no harm done. Many of the musical numbers could be shortened.
But it's a hidden gem of film, just the same, and it has a wonderfully unique style to the characters. But the definition of the film as a horror film is only the loosest of terms, because spoiler alert there is a creature that the Baron refers to as "IT" through the movie (no, not Pennywise) – this "IT" ends up being a King Kong knockoff. This comes off as cheap and unimaginative, and when we do finally see "IT," he's silly and not frightening at all.
But I feel like this movie presents an interesting intellectual and creative challenge for my fellow writers – how would you re-work this movie's script? Would you make it more frightening? And if so, how?
About the Author
Leslie D. Soule is a fantasy author who recently completed her Fallenwood Chronicles four book series. She has two books of poetry, My Mentor, Death, and Falling Through The World, available from Terror House. A citizen journalist, she holds an MA from National University.