Composer: Maury Laws
Lyrics: Jules Bass
Label: Waxwork Records (2016)
Mad Monster Party is probably not the ideal listening choice of soundtracks for the hardened exploitation connoisseurs of Badasses, Boobs and Body Counts who’d rather be swept away by the synthesisers of Goblin or Stelvio Cipriani or perhaps funk out to Isaac Hayes’ Tough Guys soundtrack, but I surmise that hardcore grinders of a certain age were once enthusiastic Junior G-Man graduates of 60’s monster trash & mash and all the Famous Monsters of Filmland quirkiness that came with it.
And so the Rainkin-Bass “Animagic” monster musical MAD MONSTER PARTY (1967) should require no lingering introduction here other than to reflect that this vibrantly colourful and beautiful stop-motion monster mash became a Halloween-themed favourite for delighted youngsters and created a generation of horror movie fans. The film brought together the usual smattering of rogues: Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster, Invisible Man, Mummy, Black Lagoon-like squishy bug-eyed green slimy thing, and an animated Boris Karloff . . . who lent his vocal talents!
Despite the phenomenal 1962 Billboard number one hit from Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers’ “Monster Mash,” an original soundtrack release of MAD MONSTER PARTY – though announced and advertised – never materialized until the late 90’s when a CD was released by Percepto Records. In 2016, it was through soundtrack specialist Waxwork Records that the Mad Monster Party original motion picture soundtrack finally arrived on vinyl . . . the format it was undoubtedly designed for.
Of course some of those pomp burlesque jazz compositions, occasionally blended within thematic cinema orchestra fanfare of composer Maury Laws, may not be wholesomely conducive within these contemporary times of a cynical download generation. Cult soundtrack enthusiasts, particularly those with a discerning ear that transcends Morricone and Zimmer, will find much to adore here . . . especially listeners of the cinematic lounge vibes of Francesco De Masi or Piero Piccioni. The smooth-as-ice vocals on the title track from jazz singer Ethel Ennis arouses the majestic range of Bassey’s “Goldfinger” and is accompanied by a wonderfully horror filmic groove landscape of saxophones, trumpets and the occasional screaming horn. However, let me leave aside any further straight-laced critical assessment. After all, Mad Monster Party is about fun, movie monsters and colourful goofiness. The Boris Karloff recited “One Step Ahead” reveals Vaudeville underpinnings while the psychedelic swinging rock riffs and Hammond organ doodling of Tibia & the Fibias’ “The Mummy” (mad mummy dance – he’s in a trance – he’s a mummy) captures the very kookiness of 60s monster trash.
Old school monster movie aficionados have long pined for a respectful soundtrack release of MAD MONSTER PARTY and Waxwork, despite probably being aware that the demand just wouldn’t sell by the shed-load, have still unwaveringly delivered an item of extravagant beauty. Their deluxe 2016 release of Mad Monster Party has been mastered from the original source materials and pressed onto coloured swirl vinyl. Encased in a heavy retro gatefold sleeve (the kind that really stands out in your vinyl collection) with inserts of newly commissioned artwork and nostalgic recollections (could there ever be any other?) from Andy Votel (Finders Keepers Records).
Too creaky to be cool, too jazz to be chic . . . probably . . . but I’m neither cool nor chic . . . and I know horror movie funsters will smugly dig digging this out every Halloween.
Contributed by Tristan Thompson