Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Look Out, There's A (Mad Monster Party) Coming
Okay, turns out I DO have a fun Halloween post in me after all.
Years ago, I had this friend (I still have him, but this was when we first met) whose level of knowledge of and affection for kitschy lowbrow fantasy entertainment -- and by that I mean comic books, sci-fi films, horror movies, and off-the-wall toys, i.e. all the really wonderful reasons for living -- knew no bounds. He was and is a joy to talk to, because he knows all about weird shit you know about, and loves it just as much, if not more. He also loves stuff you've never heard of, stuff that astounds you and sparks your imagination and makes you want to read or see whatever it he's describing, and again, you've never even heard of whatever he's talking about.
Case in point: my friend let me know once that one of his deepest obsessions was tracking down a copy of something called Mad Monster Party, which he said was a 1960s stop-motion animated masterpiece, featuring comedians and horror movie stars voicing every classic horror movie character, and that it was funny and stupid and musical and just plain wonderful. I thought he was nuts. He's not that much older than me, but I figured if I hadn't heard of this 'Mad Monster' thingie, it couldn't possibly have existed. He had to be wrong, or at least misremembering. "Are you sure you're not mixing up 'Monster Mash' with one of those old Rankin-Bass puppet holiday numbers?" I remember asking, douche-ly. No, he insisted, stubbornly, proudly: Mad Monster Party. Greatest animated movie ever made. Now, I thought it did sound wonderful, if it really existed, but I was absolutely certain he had simply gone off his nut. Listen, here in Obsessive NerdLand, finding out there's something totally beyond cool that you've never heard of can be a shaky experience.Your whole reputation and self-regard as an Obsessive Nerd is on the line.
Well. I don't have to tell you that the advent of the Internet, aka the sudden easy availability of anything ever put in front of a camera in order to make money, Mad Monster Party finally became a reality for me. I watched it for the first time a few years ago, and damned if everything my friend ever said was absolutely true: it is funny and stupid and musical and just plain wonderful. But what made it all the more wonderful to my friend, and to me, was that in the pre-Online era, you loved stuff from memory alone, and you never knew when -- or if -- you'd ever get to see it again. The Wizard of Oz can't possibly mean as much to a kid who can watch it any time she wants as it did to a kid who had to wait all year long to see it. And so to a guy who had waited and hoped and yearned for almost four decades to see a film he could now watch again and again, whenever he wanted, well... there's a lesson in perseverance in there somewhere.
But, y'know -- so what about perseverance. All that matters is that Mad Monster Party is fun and stupid and musical and wonderful, regardless of when or how many times you've seen it. If you never have, or if you know a kid who hasn't, watch it tonight, or this weekend. (It's on Netflix.)