1967 movie made by Rankin and Bass, the guys behind those old claymation Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer movies. Baron von Frankenstein (voice of Boris Karloff) has just invented “the means to destroy matter.” He wants to hold a conference to tell his monster buddies about his discovery and also that he’s retiring and leaving his secrets to his human nephew, Felix (Allen Swift, who also plays all of the other male characters). His secretary Francesca (Gale Garnett) is less than pleased, nor are the monsters, whom the filmmakers didn’t want to pay royalties for using, so they’re generic-ified: Fang (Frankenstein’s monster), the Monster’s Mate (the Bride of Frankenstein, played by Phyllis Diller), Dracula, the Werewolf, the Mummy, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, “It” (King Kong), the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They team up against the sweet but bumbling Felix, who has to claim his legacy if he wants to outwit then.
The outdated stop-motion may not appeal to all kids, but the movie is fun. It’s a great way to introduce the young ones to classic monsters if they’re too little to watch the old Universal movies. It’s really only creepy when the characters look directly at the camera.
It’s an affectionate tribute to said movies, but I don’t like the character Yetch (Igor), who’s supposed to sound like Peter Lorre but doesn’t. It seems to have been meant strictly for little little ones; the plot, dialogue, and jokes are very facile. (Actually there’s not a whole lot of plot outside of the visual gags, though adults may enjoy Francesca’s enormous rack.)
I have a few gripes about the movie. The animation has a lot of flaws, especially when characters dance, which looks totally awkward. One of the minor characters is an Italian chef stereotype; his scenes drag on and don’t contribute anything at all to the story. There is a weird scene when Francesca, who previously has hated Felix with a passion, instantly falls in love with him after he slaps her because he thinks she’s hysterical. But otherwise she and the Monster’s Mate are fairly strong characters for the ‘60s; they’re smart and somewhat independent. I love Francesca’s line, “Go on without me, Felix. Just leave me something to read.” Check it out—it’s cute and good for a chuckle or two.
If nothing else, check out the awesome theme song, performed by Ethel Ennis: