(1968)3Craig ButlerAlthough it barely registered a blip at the box office, Mad Monster Party? has developed a bit of a cult status, especially among fans of monster movies and animated films. (Tim Burton, for one, has cited it as an influence on his work.) Technically primitive by modern standards, the stop-motion "animagic" still has a peculiar and indefinable charm; while it is never really believable, it creates a reality of its own, so that even when a viewer laughs at the cruder moments, he still is drawn in by it. Of course, how willing a viewer is to go along with the process determines how much he enjoys Monster Party. It also helps to have a fondness for the bizarrely silly, as well as jokes that cause groans (many most likely contributed by co-scenarist Harvey Kurtzman, co-creator of Mad Magazine.). Fans of strong scripts (and especially of strong, well-motivated plots) should look elsewhere, as should fans of well-integrated musical numbers. The score is schlock, but it's tremendously enjoyable schlock, and very much of its period; the title song (quite well sung by Ethel Ennis) has to be heard to be believed (although the varying sound quality makes hearing much of the film difficult). Despite all its flaws, Monster Party is oddly appealing; much credit must go to its tiny but well-used vocal cast, as well as to the sense of fun that pervades the film. This is one movie that is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.