I’ve had a soft spot for ‘Monsters Crash the Pajama Party’ ever since I first heard about the film way back in 2009 when I caught James Rolfe discussing it as part of his ‘Monster Madness’ series. This was the first film I ever imported from another country because it’s release from Something Weird Video was something really quite next level. a smogesboard of clips, extracts and hidden gems scattered across half a dozen ‘clickable’ pages all hidden as easter eggs. The combined sum offering a MORE than in depth exploration of the old ‘Spook Shows’ which ran from the late 1920’s through to the late 60s.
This short film is an element of the spook show experience and would have mainly been used to give the performers time behind the scenes to change costumes, prepare props or just generally set up their next live act. It was also designed to help set the tone and vibe for whatever act was coming next.
This is a short but sweet horror comedy piece about some sorority girls spending a night in a *supposedly* haunted house that was formerly home to a mad doctor who used to kidnap teenagers and turn them into animals…Only, it transpires that there actually IS a mad doctor in the basement who HAS turned a teen into a giant Ape and he’s looking to kidnap the girls to continue his experiments. Scooby Doo level hilarity ensues.
And…This absolutely isnt a particularly well made film. Cheap and cheerful is probably the best way I can describe it, the scripts super basic. it’s all melodramatic padding all the way through because the main plot of the film is basically “girls creep around a haunted house while being slowly picked off and taken to a lab by the Ape”. As such all the dialoue is fluff pieces just designed to help set the mood and tone, but nothing thats ACTUALLY said has ANY bearing on the plot.
It’s basically all here just to build to a moment in the closing minutes of the film where, had you been watching this in a theater. The mad doctor would send the Ape out into the audience to cause trouble and kidnap a planted ‘stooge’ who’d then get dragged out of the theater and *seemingly* into the movie. Thats it. Thats the whole point of the film. it’s a build up to a physical happening, and its designed to be filler for the live acts. It’s not ‘The Godfather.’
Directions basic, but functional, it does have a bit of a style about it and pretty much all the elements work together about as well as they could do. Cast directions almost non existent. I believe the director may have told the cast what he wanted, but I dont think it was much more nuanced than ‘Your a mad doctor, be crazy and over the top’ What im saying is, I dont think the director had nuanced conversations about actor placement, prop usage and motivations.
The cine is actually pretty impressive for a low/no budget feature, they’ve dressed the set spaces effectively given their budget and everything is dusty and cobweb ridden, as such they use that musty/dusty quality to their favour by keeping things low lit, moody and as such it gives the film a bit of a smokey quality. they also surprisingly use coloured lighting gels. Im certain the blue lighting used is only to show that it’s nighttime outside and that no more thought was put to it beyond that. But because it absolutely DOESNT look like that, it actually gives the film a bit of a faux arty quality which is pretty decent.
Oranges, Blues and Pinks are the flavour of the day, the whole thing doesnt look amazing. but for low budget cinema, its not terrible.
The performances are hamtastic. this is a big goofy dumb 30 minute schlocky comedy horror movie. and barring our sorority girls and their boyfriends who are considered ‘the foil’ here, the mad doctor, his henchmen and the ape are all full on scene chewing, melodramatic ham machines. they are SO over the top its almost overwhelming and I absolutely loved it when they were on screen. Camp to the nth degree, I found them SO watchable.
The soundtracks weird too, it’s plinky plonky early synth sounds, it doesnt suit the film at all, but weirdly I find it kind of charming. and absolutely a throwback to a much more experimental era.
All in all, this really isnt a great movie. I dont expect anyone to stand up and bat for this thing. But I personally thought it was just big goofy campy fun and a fine enough way to kill 30 minutes. I’d have loved to have seen it played out, as intended, as part of a bigger live production. But even isolated, I thought it was charming and charismatic despite how short it was. If you get 30 minutes and want a kooky, spooky campy 60’s spooky time. Check this one out. its…SO weird.