There’s a satirical, stylish stop-motion feature from the makers of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that has become a classic among animation fans, Halloween movie lovers and even filmmakers who sing its praises. Even though Mad Monster Party premiered with little fanfare back in 1967, this little gem starring the voice of Boris Karloff and every famous monster of classic filmland has become a trick-or-treat must see. The soundtrack album, thought lost, was restored and is now available on vinyl records (you can still find copies of a CD version, too).
Here is my full account of the soundtrack album from an early Animation Spin:
MAD MONSTER PARTY
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Retrograde/Percepto Records FSM-80125-2 (Mono); Soundtrack Album Released in 1998; Film Released in 1967.
CREDITS: Original Album Producer/Composer: Maury Laws. Lyrics: Jules Bass. Mixers: Maury Laws, Andy Wiswell. Premiere Album Executive Producer: Taylor White. Associate Producer: Eric Singley. Creative Consultant/Liner Notes: Rick Goldschmidt. Chief Art Director: Doug Ranney. Cover Design: Reid Thompson. Digital Mastering: Daniel Hersch. Executive Producer: Lucas Kendall. Design Director: Joe Sikoryak. Feature Film Producer: Arthur Rankin, Jr. Associate Producer: Larry Roemer. Director: Jules Bass. Album Running Time: 37 minutes.
Voices: Boris Karloff (Baron Von Frankenstein); Phyllis Diller (The Monster’s Mate); Gale Garnett (Francesca); Title Song Sung by Ethel Ennis.
Songs: “Mad Monster Party,” “You’re Different,” “The Mummy,” “Our Time to Shine,” “One Step Ahead,” “Never Was a Love Like Mine.”
Instrumentals: “The Baron,” “Waltz for a Witch,” “Cocktails,” “The Bash,” “Jungle Madness,” “Mad Monster Party,” “The Baron Into Battle,” “Transylvania, All Hail,” “Pursuit,” “Requiem for a Loser,” “Finale.”
Since it has such a similar premise, it seemed fitting to include the landmark Rankin/Bass Animagic stop-motion feature along with Monster Shindig. I can’t speak as eloquently about MMP as Rankin/Bass historian Rick Goldschmidt, who authored a book about the film, but this post will focus more on the soundtrack album.
Rankin/Bass composer/arranger Maury Laws may have been the only person on Earth who had a copy of the MMP soundtrack album. As the film credits proclaim, we were supposed to find the RCA Victor album in stores, but it was never released. What you hear on this disc is Laws’ mono test pressing. The songs sound about the same as you might hear them in the DVD and Blu-ray without sound effects.
The joy of hearing the sound track albums of Mad Monster Party and The Daydreamer is that the scores contain so much of the emerging Laws/Bass style and versatility. The Daydreamer vinyl Columbia LP has the classic fairy tale sound of Rankin/Bass musical fantasies with their trademark soaring strings, woodblocks and familiar Laws “hooks.” MMP offers the R/B jazz, adventure and comedy arrangements and songs, complete with tack piano, guitar twangs and bongos.
Boris Karloff talk-sings “One Step Ahead,” a track created on two continents, as described in Goldschmidt’s liner notes. In the unforgettable Jessica Rabbit-like role of Francesca, Gale “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine” Garnett gets two songs. Phyllis Diller’s “You’re Different” was a special treat for her to record, as she was rarely given songs to sing and she hired a piano just to practice on her own. Sadly, Allen Swift, who voices everyone else in the movie (except for the title song by jazz singer Ethel Ennis), is not to be found on the album as none of his characters, even Felix Flanken, got their own song.
If you’re shopping for the Mad Monster Party Blu-ray, it looks pretty good. The figures and sets are easier to see and enjoy (Diller’s character has a tiny, detailed mouth!). However there are some scratches that were probably too costly to paint out digitally. If you still have the 2007 Anchor Bay DVD, you may want to hang onto it as well, because the extras differ and that package also has a booklet and postcards.
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Stay One Step Ahead”
This is Boris Karloff’s big production number, in which he “talk-sings” with the chorus of weird creatures in his laboratory.