In the mid-’60s Rankin/Bass, the animation studio best known for producing charming stop-motion animated holiday specials for TV like Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town and the hand-drawn Frosty the Snowman, was riding high. With its catchy yuletide ditties and misfit-empowerment theme, Rudolf had been an instant smash on NBC in 1964 and was already in yearly rotation as a seasonal favorite. But for one of the first Rudolph follow-ups, the studio went in a more offbeat direction: a horror-movie pastiche that gathered together a superteam of Baron von Frankenstein, his monster, his monster’s bride (voiced by and patterned on the late Phyllis Diller), Dracula, the Werewolf, the Invisible Man, the Mummy, and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, among others.
The plot was simple. Ghoulish patriarch Dr. Frankenstein, voiced by Universal horror legend Boris Karloff, stages a party to announce that he’s retiring from the monster business and handing the reins to his shamefully kind-hearted nephew, Felix–meaning that it’s the perfect time for his creepy-crawly rivals to make a power play of their own.
It also seemed like the perfect time for Mad Monster Party. The Addams Family, The Munsters, and Dark Shadows were on the air and Roger Corman was churning out his low-budget spine-tinglers. But by the time Mad Monster Party finally got its theatrical release in 1967, audiences had cooled on horror’s latest wave, and the movie went up in smoke like a vampire in daylight. Still, it had a profound effect on one young horror buff named Tim Burton, and it even helped inspire the tongue-in-cheek, macabre tone of his own The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride.
Now, 45 years after its original release, Mad Monster Party is set to make its Blu-ray debut (9/4). EW has an exclusive behind-the-scenes clip that sheds light on Rankin/Bass’ patented “AniMagic” process and an interview with storyboard artist Don Duga. Check it out:
Do you have memories of watching Mad Monster Party is a kid? And, if so, do you intend to introduce it to your children?
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