Monday, October 07, 2013
31 Werewolves | Mad Monster Party?
I don't know how I got through childhood without knowing about this Rankin Bass masterpiece, but I didn't discover it until I was all grown up. Boris Karloff is the voice of a Dr. Frankenstein who wants to retire from his position as leader of all monsters everywhere. Unwilling to leave a power vacuum, he calls everyone together to Monster Island (not that one) so that he can announce his successor: mild-mannered soda jerk (and Frankenstein's nephew) Felix Flankin. The other monsters are of course unhappy about that, especially the Baron's hot lab assistant Francesca, so they split into factions and shaky alliances in order to bump off Felix and claim the leadership position. The monsters include Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster and his mate, a Creature from the Black Lagoon-like sea monster, the Invisible Man, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde, the Mummy, a Peter Lorre-like ghoul, and of course a werewolf.
With a script and character designs by Mad Magazine's Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Davis, the hour-and-a-half movie is very funny and looks great. It's easily in the top five specials Rankin-Bass ever produced. Davis' creatures all reflect his distinctive style, including the werewolf, and Davis has the lycanthrope dressed like a gypsy, which I like to think is an homage to Bela Lugosi's character from The Wolf Man.