The lights are down, the candy is unwrapped, and I’m practicing my cultured chuckle, which can mean only one thing: it’s time for Screaming in Harmony, where we shine the spotlight on horror stories with jaunty tunes and jazz hands! Here at Nightmare we’re celebrating Monster Mash Month, so you know that tonight’s pick had to be Monster Mash: The Movie!
Everyone loves “The Monster Mash,” the greatest novelty song ever recorded. If you don’t like it, get out of my face! It’s such an integral part of our culture that 33 years after the its release, it finally received a feature-length musical film adaptation. Drawing inspiration from both the Bobby “Boris” Pickett song and a stage musical named I’m Sorry The Bridge Is Out, You’ll Have To Spend The Night (also written by Pickett), Monster Mash: The Movie is a send-up of tons of classic horror tropes, packed to the gills with pop culture references that probably played better in 1995. It also looks and sounds like a community theatre production, which only adds to the charm!
THE SHORT VERSION
A young couple is heading home from a Halloween party when they find themselves stranded in a creepy old mansion. The man of the house, a certain Dr. Frankenstein, wants to… borrow the young man’s brain for his science project, and the mad doctor’s hunchbacked assistant Igor has his eye on the young woman. Meanwhile, Mr. and Mrs. Dracula are trying to seduce the young couple, and the philandering Mr. Dracula says some wildly questionable things! (At what point, I think what he means to say is “nubile,” but what he says is “pre-pubescent.” Go to jail, Dracula!) Meanwhile, a werewolf’s doting mother wants to set him up with the girl, and also Elvis is there and he’s a mummy and his manager wants to sacrifice the two young adults. Mad scientist with an impish assistant? A werewolf, and a mad scientist’s monstrous project? Two draculas? Why, this movie is a good ol’ fashioned monster mash!
GORE AND SCORE
Let’s talk about the music of this movie. I mean this as 90% not a slam, but the music in this movie sounds like the demo version of all these songs. I’m sure that at the time the producers were like “this MIDI technology is ‘da bomb’ and it doesn’t sound cheap or dated at all,” but I’m reporting from the year 2020 to say that’s simply not the case. If you found a pretty good keyboard at a garage sale and most of the keys worked, you could recreate every sound on this soundtrack. That being said, standout tracks from Monster Mash: The Movie include I’m Sorry The Bridge Is Out, You’ll Have To Spend The Night (where all the characters introduce themselves and explain the setup of the movie), The Monster Mash (yep, you already know this one), Things A Mother Goes Through (in which the werewolf’s mom bemoans the hardships of raising a monster child), and the climactic You’re About To Lose Your Mind.
Unfortunately, the actual performance of the titular Monster Mash leaves a little to be desired. Instead of seeing the events of the song play out, we just hear Dr. Frankenstein telling the story of a cool party that he threw a long time ago. I know this is covered by a thousand people on Twitter every October 1st, and the song is just a recap of a legendary graveyard bash and not the graveyard bash itself, but come on. The choreography for this song looks like the cast is playing charades and pulled a slip that says “bare minimum.”
Mink Stole steals the show as the wolfman’s mom. She doesn’t have as much screen time as the other characters, but when she’s there she’s going waaaaay over the top. Frankly, Monster Mash: The Movie doesn’t lend itself to subtlety, and her camp performance nails the tone of the film. Additionally, John Kassir shines as Igor. Unsurprising for the voice of the danged Cryptkeeper, Kassir gives a delightfully creepy voice to the mad scientist’s deranged assistant. He’s also the character with the most development, which I think makes him the main character? Finally, let’s all give Boris Pickett a hand (or whichever body parts he needs) for co-writing, co-starring, and co-composing Monster Mash: The Movie!
It’s not the greatest movie ever made, there aren’t really any scares to be found, the songs won’t make their way onto your playlists (except Monster Mash, but that’s already on there), and a lot of the jokes are painfully dated, but Monster Mash: The Movie is fun for what it is! If you’re hard up for monster action and want a lot of them all at once, and they have to sing, and you don’t like stop motion animation or puppets, then there are worse ways to scratch your very specific itch. Plus, it comes in under ninety minutes, which I will always applaud!
Are you Frankenstein, Dracula, or Bobby “Boris” Pickett? If so, let us know on Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and the Horror Fiends of Nightmare on Film Street Facebook page! And for more singing monsters, stay tuned to Nightmare on Film Street.