I don’t know how I got through childhood without knowing about this Rankin Bass masterpiece, but I didn’t discover it until I was all grown up. Boris Karloff is the voice of a Dr. Frankenstein who wants to retire from his position as leader of all monsters everywhere. Unwilling to leave a power vacuum, he calls everyone together to Monster Island (not that one) so that he can announce his successor: his nephew, mild-mannered soda jerk Felix Flankin. The other monsters are of course unhappy, especially the Baron’s hot lab assistant Francesca (above with Drac). They split into factions and shaky alliances in order to bump off Felix and claim the leadership position.
Mad Magazine‘s Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Davis wrote the script and designed the characters, so the hour-and-a-half movie is very funny and looks great. It’s easily in the top five specials Rankin-Bass ever produced. Davis’ creatures are all a mixture of his distinctive style and the classic film versions everyone’s familiar with, including Dracula. In addition to him, the monsters include a werewolf, a Creature from the Black Lagoon-type sea monster, the Invisible Man, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the Mummy, a Peter Lorre-like ghoul, the Frankenstein Monster, and his Mate.
Apparently there was also a cartoon (very loose) sequel in 1972 called Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters, but probably the less said about that the better.