Mad Monster Party Gets a Fresh New Look on Recently Released Blu-ray
June 2nd, 2023, was the release date of the Rankin/Bass Mad Monster Party Blu-ray from Umbrella Entertainment, is region free and it is sensational! The classic film can now be seen in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and also in alternate full frame 1.33:1. Umbrella Entertainment is based in Australia, and this release is not to be confused with the Lionsgate release several years ago, which I also worked on. This print is far superior in picture quality, and for the first time in many years, Francesca’s “Yeah” at the end of the feature was restored.
This release has all previous documentaries, plus much more! There was a deluxe package release that had physical extras, such as a reprint of the 1968 Dell comic book, Frank Frazetta’s half-sheet poster art, metal pins and stickers. This deluxe package was numbered and limited to 1,500. If you were lucky enough to grab one, you tripled your investment already!
I was lucky enough to work with fellow ReMIND magazine freelance writer Justin Beahm of Reverend Entertainment on this project, and he filmed my introduction to the film as well as my introduction to a wonderful Easter egg on the disc, featuring King Kong “It” in an episode of Japan’s Princess Comet. Justin also recorded my commentary for the disc. I became the Rankin/Bass historian/biographer because of Mad Monster Party, due to my friendship with the film’s designer, Jack Davis. The film was also Arthur Rankin Jr.’s favorite, who I was very close to. Getting back to the Princess Comet episode, “It” is the guest star and has more screen time in the TV episode than he does in Mad Monster Party. This time he talks, and he is fully animated by Tad Mochinaga, who kept “It” in his collection and is pictured in my book Frosty the Snowman’s 50th Anniversary scrapbook (Miser Bros Press). You also get to see the size comparison of how large the “It” Animagic figure was, because he interacts with live actors in the episode.
Halloween is going to be much happier this year and for many years to come for anyone who owns this Blu-ray. The Blu-ray is loaded with extras, thanks to Mark Hartley! He took my still gallery from the original Anchor Bay DVD release, which came out around 2002, and set it to music and automatically moved the images. The trailer gallery was much longer than I was expecting, with some nice surprises. When I listened to my commentary, I realized I could have talked about this film forever. I didn’t even get into the Frank Frazetta poster story, but I cover that in my book about the film. I have been getting bombarded with orders for that book now, because of the release of this Blu-ray.
Getting quality Rankin/Bass Blu-rays out in the United States has been like pulling teeth. The only ones that even came close were the original Blu-ray release of The Year Without a Santa Claus (Warner Bros.) with the documentary We Are Santa’s Elves and the more recent Blu-ray release of Rankin/Bass’ The Daydreamer (Scorpion/Kino Lorber) with commentary by Lee Gambin and me. Universal and Warner Bros. have dropped the ball on everything else. Maybe I will need to do more with Umbrella in Australia. They certainly know how to make a wonderful Blu-ray!
It was nice to involve my Australian friend Matt Pott, whose art decorates not only the cover (and the pins and stickers in the deluxe set), but also makes the menus look great! If you are a monster kid at heart or just a fan of great family entertainment (the kind Rankin/Bass Productions are famous for), you won’t want to miss this!