Author: Krista Culbertson

Wicked Wednesday: Anna and the Apocalypse (2018)

I love a horror-comedy. When my husband and I started dating, we watched Dale and Tucker vs Evil together on a date. Krampus is one of my favourite Christmas horror movies. And of course, classics like Night of the Creeps and Gremlins are among some of my favourite movies full stop.

So I was intrigued to watch Anna and the Apocalypse from the moment I first learnt about it back in 2018. Throw in some musical numbers and it sounded like a recipe for something really fun and new.

Now that it’s 2020, I finally sucked it up and bought the movie to watch it. I promised my husband we’d watch it together once I finished watching it for this post.

Yeah. That’s just not going to happen.

Anna and the Apocalypse follows, unsurprisingly, a girl called Anna. She lives with her widower father in a small Scottish town. Around them, the zombie apocalypse is happening. But Anna and her friends seem oblivious as they prepare for the Christmas festivities.

The night of the Christmas show at Anna’s school, the pandemic spirals (and still everyone is oblivious). When Anna wakes in the morning for school, she meets her friend John in the cemetery. It’s there where they meet (and behead) their first zombie.

They head to the bowling alley where they work to find their friend Chris there with exchange-student Steph. The group of kids decide to hunker down until they can go to the school, where Anna’s dad and Chris’s girlfriend are.

The rest of the film focuses on the students’ journey to the school and the inevitable climax when they arrive there. An additional villain pops up along the way, but it’s handled so haphazardly that I didn’t understand it a bit.

The tone in the last third is especially uneven. That’s kind of to be expected when you get a horror-comedy. Rarely is it be pulled off. Shaun of the Dead, the movie which this is constantly compared to, is the prime example of this. And I don’t think this musical holds a torch to that, to be honest.

I unfairly had high expectations for this movie. Disclaimer here: I’m not huge on musicals. So why did I think I’d like this one? I always root for a movie that subverts the norm. Everything about this could have been everything I hoped for. My favourite movie is Phantom of the Paradise and my favourite musical is Toxic Avenger (god that says too much about me). So horror and musicals together are not something I’m new to.

Since I’m pretty biased, I broke my golden rule and read some reviews on Letterboxd. Quite a few people really enjoyed the songs. Personally, I can’t recall a single one, and a lot of them made me physically cringe as I watched. So I think it really comes down to taste preferences. That being said, I think the songs shined best when they were more tailored to the movie. Some numbers like “Hollywood Ending” felt pointless. They could easily be slotted into any other teen film.

Sometimes when we watch movies, we need to remind ourselves that we aren’t always the target audience. Not everything is for us! This is clearly meant for 14-year-olds. Hell, I was at the height of my zombie obsession at that age. I would have loved this to bits back in 2005. And this is exactly how this movie feels: 2005. It’s not really doing anything new here that wasn’t done over a decade ago.

Ultimately, though, I was hoping for a horror musical. But Anna and the Apocalypse is a musical first and foremost. The horror and comedy are a very distant afterthought. While I didn’t like it, I do think there’s a niche for it out there. It certainly has the ability to become a cult film for many.

Wicked Wednesday: Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)

I make it no secret that I hate Silent Night, Deadly Night. I’ve never been able to put my finger on it, but the movie makes my hackles rise. But it’s a classic of the holiday genre. Nearly every horror fan puts this series on their list of “must watches” of the season. (Though I did enjoy the 2012 ‘remake’, somehow!)

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve watched Silent Night, Deadly Night. Tastes and opinions can change a lot in that amount of time. But there was no way I was going to sit through the first film again. There are five films in the franchise, and they can’t all be the same, right? Brian Yuzan directed part 4, for goodness’ sake! It took until 2020 for me to finally admit to myself that I should join the rest of the world and just watch the next instalment.

But boy, was that a mistake.

In order to dive into part two, I read through the plot summary of the first movie. It was amazing how quickly the plot came back to me, so I guess that’s saying something.

Though it turns out that was an absolute waste of time. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 does us a ‘favour’ by giving us nearly 40 minutes of archive footage of the first movie. Never has a film been so insistent that we remember everything from the first film. Is this actually important to any plot later in the movie? Absolutely not.

Indeed, we have to sit through the torture of watching Ricky, younger brother of Billy, talk to a psychologist about what happened when he was younger. After a torturous first half of the film, we finally get into why Ricky is in the sanitorium!

Turns out Ricky is also triggered by Santa-related naughtiness. No explanation why other than his brother and that he really hates nuns. After being adopted, the boy thought he would get a happier life. Only the nuns really freak him out. Instead of studying him and getting him help, his adoptive parents seemingly do nothing about his trauma.

It’s when he’s a teen that he finally makes his first kill. He begins more like a vigilante, killing off criminals and creeps. But when he begins dating Jeniffer, his impulses get a bit out of control. Might be the killer Santa movie that does it, but who’s to say?

Ricky gets his own murderous rampage. But since we only have 30 minutes left the movie, the boy really needs to cram in all the action he can! This is where the iconic “Garbage Day!” scene comes in. And while it was worth a chuckle, I think the scene is much funnier out of context than in the movie itself. That’s absolutely the fault of the movie for not letting any moment here have a breath before the next one.

Pretty safe to say that I hated Part 2 more than the first movie. I had to live through Silent Night, Deadly Night again and deal with a bizarre, jumbled mess. For me, it’s well beyond being “so bad it’s good”. This is just bad. Though I probably only have myself to blame for watching the sequel to a movie I hated.

According to the film’s Wiki, Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 was made for $100,000. It really shows. Couldn’t even spring for a string of Christmas lights to make this movie even look remotely like it takes place at Christmas. I do hate when a movie tries to capitalise on being a holiday movie without putting in any effort to set a mood. At least part 1 was superior in that respect.

I can see why this is a cult movie. Everything about this movie is utterly bizarre. But for me, it’s unbearable. When it comes to killer Santas, I’ll stick to Harry Stadling.

Wicked Wednesday: The Scooby-Doo Show S3E3 “A Scary Night with a Snow Beast Fright”

By golly, it’s December already. Time for cozy scarves, hot chocolate and warm fires… Wait. What’s that? It’s still in the upper 40s in London? I’m still sweating in my light autumn jacket? Well. It might not be winter in weather, but it can winter in spirit, right?

Even at the best of times, I struggle with Christmases and ‘winter’ in Britain. Living the first decades of my life in Wisconsin prepared me for brutal months of endless, horrible weather. So in a place where the weather never seems to change, my body is constantly confused.

This year I’m trying desperately to get into the mood for Christmas. It seems more important than ever to care about this month. So despite the incredibly mild weather: a very snowy episode of Scooby-Doo was needed.

Now. I adore Scooby-Doo, but one thing I’ve noticed the more I’ve watched these older episodes, the more I realise that this show was definitely, 100% created for kids in mind. Each episode follows the same exact formula to a T – “A Scary Night With a Snow Beast Fright” is absolutely no exception.

The gang are called by Professor Kruger to go to the North Pole. But when they arrive, they discover that the village the professor was staying in was destroyed by something. Something big.

During their initial sweep of the place, the gang meets the chief of the village’s tribe. He tells them that a snow beast has been terrorising the village. It supposedly came to life when the tribe built on sacred land, according to their legends.

The chief then points them into the direction of the professor’s hut, where they meet the prof’s disgruntled assistant. This guy is clearly the culprit because he’s the only crabby person in the episode. But you know, just pretend to be amazed later on. (This is what I deserve for watching shows for small children.)

While searching the professor’s hut, they discover drawings of the totem poles they had seen earlier. They go to check out the totem poles where they are attacked by the titular ‘snow beast’. They track it to an ice cave where they discover submarines and a couple of dudes locked in a room.

It’s no surprise when the assistant is revealed to be the mastermind behind the ‘snow beast’. The very-advanced engineer had built himself a robotic beast suit to wear. And something something oil.

The episode is pretty cute. Certainly not iconic by any means. For one, it’s a bit racist. The chief has that accent and the episode uses the term Eskimo. So. There’s that trash.

But Scoob is cute. His crush on the sled dog is adorable (she melts the ice around him with a kiss). I certainly don’t think anything here is revolutionary, perhaps that’s why this episode’s original season was cancelled halfway through. But there was snow, and that ticked my only box. Perhaps next year I need to try one of the more modern movies, as there seems to be a cult following for the early ones (I spy Chill Out, Scooby-Doo!).

Believe it or not, it’s time to begin watching Christmas movies starting next week. I applaud anyone who has already started.

Wicked Wednesday: The Cleansing Hour (2019)

Exorcisms. We love them. Horror loves them. They probably exist more on our screens than they ever have in real life. The Exorcist, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Last Exorcism, Chi sei?. The list is seemingly endless.

The Cleansing Hour (which I will probably accidentally misspell as “The Cleaning House” on one or more occasions in the post) is one of the latest in a long legacy. But when a subgenre is as well-travelled as this one, what can you do? Well, make it as modern as possible.

Friends Max and Drew are a couple of charlatans. Each week they broadcast a live stream of an exorcism on their show, The Cleansing Hour. Led by ‘Father Max’, every week a new person is freed from the demon within them. It’s pretty handy that they always find someone new that’s possessed and always in time for a new show!

My initial thought was that modern audiences would never go for something like this as truth. Then I remembered how successful ghost hunting shows are and quietly stayed in my place.

But one night, the friends run into some trouble: their guest doesn’t arrive. So at the last minute, Drew’s fiance Lane steps in as the possessed. But once the show gets going, the cast and crew soon realise that Lane is a little bit too good at being possessed. When she goes off script, spews blood and sets a man on fire, everyone on set realises that Lane is actually possessed.

The demon gives the two men until the end of the stream to “lift the veil” otherwise Lane and seemingly everyone else is doomed.

As the viewer count rises, Drew and Max must outwit an actual demon. Only the demon gives them an incredibly difficult time. They must admit their sins to the world, watch their friends die and go through intolerable pain.

Each revelation brings Max’s lies to the surface. But he and Drew are finally able to keep the demon at bay enough to begin exorcism rites. Though is that all the demon wants? Or are the men truly playing with something they should have never dug up?

It wasn’t too surprising to me when I discovered that this was initially a short film. It has the right amount of story to fill 20 minutes. Here, things feel a bit padded. I see no reason why this needed a 90-minute run-time. (Dear filmmakers, studio execs and everyone else in between: we don’t need long movies.)

I didn’t really see anything wrong with The Cleansing Hour but I certainly didn’t enjoy it. There were some fun, gimmicky bits, but I found my mind wandering more often than I’d like to admit.

This movie is getting mostly good reviews. Which brings me to the same conclusion I almost always come to with contemporary movies I don’t like: aesthetically I hated everything about this. For a movie released in 2019, it feels so dated. It looks dated. The dialogue is dated. The way the characters are handled is beyond dated. And as someone who likes movies to look nice, I just couldn’t get my mind engaged.

I am sorry. But I never claimed to be anything other than shallow!

The Cleansing Hour was brought to my attention when I saw someone discussing it on Twitter. Their argument at the time was unlike most horror movies these days, The Cleansing Hour actually had a solid ending. According to the discussion, it’s “lazy” to have ambiguous endings.

And yeah. When I read the thread I thought “Oh definitely! I love when things happen in movies!” But upon watching this, I realised I just love ambiguity in an ending. Things left up to the imagination is often what I love best about horror (prime examples of this: Black ChristmasIt FollowsThe Thing). I don’t think leaving things up in the air is lazy at all. Or perhaps the original reviewer and I had two very different things in mind.

Unfortunately, I did find a lot of The Cleansing Hour ambiguous despite its “concrete” ending. I found myself constantly referring back to the incredibly-detailed summary on Wikipedia to help me. There’s no shame in needing help, and I certainly needed it here.

Exorcisms movies are really difficult to make unique and special. At its core, you’ll always have the same elements. Despite the daunting battle to stand out, The Cleansing Hour certainly makes a valiant effort.

Wicked Wednesday: The Company of Wolves (1984)

For years Angela Carter’s work has tempted me. Her mixture of feminist themes and fairytales seem so appealing… and yet, I haven’t gotten around to a single story yet.

But after watching The Company of Wolves, I feel even more intrigued by her work.

This movie could only exist in the dreamy corners of 1980s Britain. It’s bleak, for one, with nearly all the colours being drained from the screen. The one colour that stands out? Red. Red lips and a red cloak.

Rosaleen is a stroppy child. When her parents return home from a trip, she refuses to leave her room to see them or her sister. Her mother puts it down to being “that age”.

That night Rosaleen begins to dream, and we enter a fairytale world filled with wolves. In her dream, her sister Alice is killed off by a wolf. Thankfully, a wolf that is, has Granny puts it, “hairy on the outside” not the inside.

In some ways, The Company of Wolves plays out like an anthology movie. Only here the framing story dominates and the short stories in between are fleeting. Following Alice’s funeral, Granny warns Rosaleen about men whose eyebrows meeting the middle (also known as a unibrow, Gran). She then tells her grandaughter a story about a woman, her two husbands and a werewolf.

As Rosaleen’s village is terrorised by wolves and werewolves, the fairytales march in and out of her dream – sometimes unannounced. As she draws closer to a sexual awakening (of sorts – actress Sarah Patterson was only a very young teenager here), hands and heads begin to fly.

It’s quite clear that The Company of Wolves was made on a budget. But I think that only adds to the fairytale ambience. It feels like we’re looking into an imaginary world, one that exists in dreams and is most definitely not real.

The special effects also impressed me. The movie doesn’t shy away from showing its werewolf transformations. For the most part, they look excellent (though fairly dated).

Now, I’m not saying this movie should be remade, but I could see A24 doing incredible things with the framework. I think a modern take could be more daring with both messaging and imagery. The film seems to be holding back at times. I think that’s due to a few things: 1) the age of the main actress and 2) censorship in British cinema at this time. Without either of those restrictions, I think this film could have really flown.

But Angela Lansbury would have to reprise her role as Granny, obviously.

The Company of Wolves is definitely the type of film you revisit. It’s filled with enough imagery and symbolism that you could take something away from it each viewing. It’s beautiful and soft yet dangerous and pretty disturbing at times.

Everything said – this movie was partially produced by Cannon, which both pleases and amuses me to no end. We love you, Cannon.

Wicked Wednesday (ok it’s Thursday, close enough): Mortuary (1983)

For the first time in years, I actually forgot to post on Wednesday. Oops?

We can probably blame two things: 1) England’s new lockdown really has messed with my perception of time. 2) My pre-order of Second Sight‘s gorgeous Dawn of the Dead set arrived in the mail. I was so excited to force my husband to watch the Romeo classic that I completely forgot all about Wednesday. 

And in my defence, this week’s movie is a touch forgettable. Well, other than that scene where Bill Paxton frolics through a cemetery. Than man could make a mark on anything. 

Mortuary follows young Christie in the aftermath of her father’s death. She’s convinced that he was bludgeoned to death, but her mother, Eve, is more convinced that he died of drowning in the pool. 

But Eve seems to be keeping something secret. One day, Christie’s boyfriend, Greg, sees her performing a strange ritual with the owner of a mortuary, Hank Andrews. When he tells Christie this, she seems even more convinced that her father’s death was not a straight-forward drowning. 

Greg and Christie become concerned when their friend Josh disappears during the ritual. Unbeknownst to them, Josh was picked off by a figure sporting a look not too dissimilar from the ritual participants’. If you’re going to get killed, at least it’s convenient that it’s in a mortuary warehouse. 

The couple begins looking into Josh’s disappearance, but strange occurrences make Christie paranoid.  One day she’s followed home by a strange car. She’s then attacked by a hooded figure that night that she’s convinced was trying to kill her. 

Christie is certain that Eve is involved in the strange happenings. But is she really? Or could the killer maybe – just maybe – be the not-so-right-in-the-head son of the mortuary owner?

I mean. Who’s to say? Certainly not at all a giveaway that the killer’s ‘mask’ is just a piece of white latex that just look like his regular face. 

Mortuary benefits greatly from a good cast. Paxton is wonderfully goofy here, clearly destined for great things. And I’d watch Lynda Day George and Christopher George in anything. The performances certainly elevate the average story to something more entertaining. 

This will certainly appeal to anyone who wants a more sophisticated slasher. It looks nice, and it certainly is worth it – just for this scene alone:

Wicked Wednesday: Slaughterhouse Rock (1988)

Cannibal serial killers. Toni Basil. Demons on Alcatraz. Music by DEVO.

These are all things that, on paper, should make an excellent movie that’s right up my alley. But sometimes what is presented to you in doesn’t quite turn out like you had imagined (a bit like how this election is going).

Slaughterhouse Rock is a 1988 slasher film – at the tail end of the decade where the slasher genre was really starting to feel like well-trodden ground. The film tries its best to shake the formula up by introducing supernatural elements and an absolutely bonkers backstory.

Alex is a seemingly normal college student, only he’s haunted by nightmares of grizzly deaths on Alcatraz Island. He becomes convinced that he’s losing his mind, even more so when his friends tell him that he predicted the murders of a rock band there

As Alex’s dreams continue, they get worse in severity. They begin to blend in with the real world. He sees hands bursting through a wall on a date. His girlfriend and professor find him in a burning bed. He’s eventually convinced by his Introduction to Psychokinesis professor, Carolyn, to go to Alcatraz after his friends find him floating above his bed.

For some reason, Carolyn insists that everyone go to Alcatraz. Guess we need bodies to get up that body count.

She’s informed Alex that his dreams could be trying to tell him something. According to a manuscript by some native medicine men, a white man at the turn of the century had stolen their secrets. Driven mad, the commandant began to kill sex workers and eating them. Carolyn is convinced that the commandant’s body is somewhere on the island and his spirit haunting the place.

Soon after arriving on the island, Alex becomes separate from the rest of the group. He meets the ghost of Sammy (Basil), the lead singer of the band Bodybag, who tells him that she’s the one who accidentally freed the spirit.

As Sammy teaches Alex how to speak to spirits and, I don’t know, hover outside his body or something, the rest of his friends are being killed off. In true American Werewolf in London-style, Alex is haunted by the ghosts of his dead friends. His brother Richard was quickly possessed by the commandant’s spirit and making quick work of the group.

There are some incredibly bizarre decisions made throughout the film, sprinkled throughout to give the film its feature-length. My least favourite of the time-wasters has to be the scene where Krista (not me) is raped. She escaped (yay Kristas everywhere) using her own guile, only to be the first to be killed off anyway. AND has the most brutal death scene. I guess if you show your boobs you’re just asking for it.

Cue hard eye-roll.

The demon-brother is blown up. All is seemingly well. The ghosts of the commandant’s victims are seemingly at rest. Hooray.

This is a pretty by-the-books supernatural slasher. I enjoyed parts of it, particularly Toni Basil, the spirits, the commandant’s backstory and the make-up effects on the demon. But ultimately, it was just a bit boring. I really hated the treatment of Krista’s character. Not just because this is the first time I’ve ever seen a character with my name, but because she actually had some spunk. Just a dated way of handling women, I guess. But that never justifies anything.

And I will not hear a bad word about Toni Basil. The woman is a legend. She’s easily the most fun person to watch and her ghostly spirit adds a fun sprinkle of camp. Her costumes are incredible.

Honestly, I was expecting a bit more “rock” in my Slaughterhouse Rock. It’s a missed opportunity to only show Toni dancing once and with no performance scenes! WHERE ARE MY GHOST CONCERT SCENES AT? A true case where the film had the ability to take its unique plotline to 11 but stopped short at a meek 5.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone! The night might not the way we wanted but here we are. I’m simultaneously watching Grady Hendrix talk about Dracula’s penis on the Shudder Fest Live Stream and learning about England’s new lockdown from the PM’s announcement.

What a life, eh?

Despite the fact that this October was one of the worst I ever had, I still managed to watch some great movies, listen to some incredible people and read good books. As ever, everything might seem dark, but you have to appreciate the light where you can find it.

First of all, thank God for Shudder. All day we’ve had various panels to stream: from horror icons to a discussion on the future of Black horror to (of course) discussions on vampire books from Hendrix himself. While we can’t party, at least it’s nice to feel connected with fellow fans online.

Being a horror fan is the best. Following the new format of their August festival, Arrow Video FrightFest: October Digital Edition was entirely online this year. Just live streaming The Stylist on Sunday morning made me feel like I was hanging out with other fans again. Sure I was in my sunny living room, not a dark cinema, but we can only pretend.

I watched Jill Gevargizian’s short film back in 2017 and was completely in love with the entire thing. It’s easily my favourite horror short. It’s the perfect bite-sized bit of terror. The movie expands on the life of stylist/serial killer Claire (played by Najarra Townsend, who reprises the role). We get to know more about her inner life and her motives. She’s a dark and twisted woman. It’s both difficult to watch and impossible to look away.

The movie was so gorgeous, and it was great to see Kansas City as the setting. I can’t wait to see more from Gevargizian. More local horror from local authors!

One of the best books I read this month was John Boden’s Walk the Darkness Down, a Western horror. The characters are all twisted and the enemy is one of the most disgusting I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about.

On the nonfiction side of things, both Leila Taylor’s Darkly: Blackness and America’s Gothic Soul and John Bloom’s (aka Joe Bob Briggs)  Evidence of Love were both obsessive reads but for very different reasons.

Taylor’s book looks at the goth subculture through the lens of a Black American woman. She looks at everything from Siouxsie Sioux’s questionable cover of “Strange Fruit” to the ‘haunted’ houses of derelict Detroit. She writes so conversationally that her memoir blends in seamlessly with her critiques of culture. Listen to this one in audiobook form.

Evidence of Love was just an endlessly entertaining bit of true-crime fiction. This is one best gone into blind, but coming full circle – it’s thanks to Grady Hendrix’s The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires that I learned about this book.

I hope you’ve all had a good October. I hope it was filled with plenty of good spooky things. I ate a gingerbread mummy and played about two and a half hours of Animal Crossing just to trick-or-treat with my ‘friends’. Now I’ll be indulging in whatever horror movie I want because that’s at least one thing I can control.

Happy Halloween!

Wicked Wednesday: Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

I’m not quite sure why Trick ‘r Treat passed me by for so long. The movie came out on DVD in 2009 – the year I had first gone to college. My friends and I were obsessed with the local movie rental place in the fancy area of Milwaukee.

So something like this should have been right up our alley. And yet, here I am over a decade finally playing catch-up.

There are probably two reasons I’ve avoided it for so long:

  1. I get this movie confused with Satan’s Little Helper way more than I should.
  2. Movies this lauded always intimidate me because there’s always a pressure to “like” something that everyone else in the community does.

But I was in the mood for something that just bled Halloween spirit. It finally felt like the right time to watch the iconic Trick ‘r Treat that dons everyone’s favourite Halloween movie lists.

And…

Well…

I thought it was ok?

I’m starting to think I might be delusional. Between this and my enjoyment of Book of Shadows, I’m starting to feel like a contrarian even when I don’t want to be.

Trick ‘r Treat is an anthology movie of sorts. Several different stories are woven together over the course of Halloween night. We have a group of terrible teens, a couple of creepy men, and a group of girls out on the prowl for men.

The one image linking them all is the presence of Sam, a small kid-like figure that keeps an eye on everyone. He watches over the town, making sure everyone follows the traditions of Halloween. Those who stray from tradition or ignore the Halloween spirit soon find themselves to meet a gruesome demise.

I struggled the most with the aesthetics of the movie. I love a visually-appealing film, and most movies in this era just aren’t my jam. That’s totally a personal choice. I’m sure most people will love it. If I don’t like a film visually, I tend to check out more easily. That being said, I do love the shots of all the jack-o’-lanterns. So eerie and beautiful.

The pacing was overall pretty snappy until the final scene where Sam fights a grumpy old man. The scene seemed to be twice as long as the rest of the movie. I was so bored by the ‘fight scene’ that I got up, looked for a snack, made a snack because there were no ready-to-grab snacks, and came back to find that the scene was still going on!

I think I’m pretty distracted by my own disappointment that I didn’t love this movie. There were a number of things I really liked about it. The twist in the sort of the women and the serial killer was fun. Though again, I struggled with the pacing. The reveal was revealed, then just kept hitting you over the head with its reveal.

But I’m still confused as to why people love this Halloween movie so much. It’s universally acclaimed. Am I too late to the game that I’ve missed out on the nostalgia? Can you be nostalgic for a movie that’s barely a decade old?

I’d be willing to give Trick ‘r Treat another try in a few years. I loved director Michael Dougherty’s Krampus when I watched it, and I feel like the two have quite a lot in common. Perhaps my anxiety levels are too high to really sit back and laugh at anything. Without a sense of humour, movies like this are impossible to like.

Wicked Wednesday: Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters (1972)

60s and 70s kitsch horror really gets something really right. Decades later, most of it is still watchable. From The Munsters to Scooby-Doo – all of these shows have a lasting style, an flair that makes it still attractive.

Mad Monster Party? left a lasting impression on me when I watched it three (!) years ago. The music, the puppets, the design. It was all a treat for the eyes. So I was intrigued to learn that a TV movie prequel of sorts existed called Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters. Another Rankin/Bass holiday production, but done in a traditional animated style unlike the stop motion of Party. It’s also lacking a great soundtrack which greatly counts against it!

Baron Henry von Frankenstein makes a bride for his monster, which of course means its time to plan the wedding. Only Frankenstein’s assistant, Igor, becomes jealous. But poor Igor is dragged along during every step of the planning stage.

Soon guests start arriving at the hotel for the wedding. The Invisible Family, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy – the gang is all here. The wedding guests begin mixing with the ‘regular’ hotel guests for the laughs of the audience. Meanwhile, Igor is still trying his best to stop the wedding. Though all his best efforts continue to be thwarted.

At dinner one night, the future bride is finally unveiled. She immediately causes all the men in the party to fight over her. As the men fight, Frankenstein asks Igor to watch over the bride and keep her safe before the wedding.

Nothing goes quite so smoothly for Igor as he tries to get the bride to safety. While trying to cross a lava pit, the two are attacked by a pterodactyl (because of course). But she’s eventually taken by a large yeti-like creature called Manzoola.

The wedding party and guests all set out to save the bride-to-be. And she is swiftly saved without an ounce of drama (unless you count a very cross wife of a yeti thing). After all the drama, the wedding is allowed to continue with the usual amount of pre-wedding jitters and hiccups.

While not the most Halloween of storylines, this is actually a pretty cute monster flick for the little ones. The character design is great, and nothing gets too terrifying. Though cute, it is very padded. There are very long sequences of repetitive silliness (that never-ending postal delivery scene – ugh). It hinders the movie from being perfect, but it’s still enjoyable retro fair. Great background for while you’re putting up Halloween decorations. Though I’d be disappointed if you haven’t already done so.

More than anything, though, this little TV movie reminded me I’m due a Mad Monster Party? rewatch.