Friday, October 22, 2021

Monsters Crash the Pajama Party

Monsters Crash the Pajama Party
David L. Hewitt

A group of girls are staying at an abandoned mansion. A group of boys are coming to help scare the girls as part of a sorority initiation. What nobody knows is that there is a mad scientist (Vic McGee) living in the basement complete with creepy assistant, a werewolf, some random monster, and of course a gorilla. There’s a bunch of mayhem and the mad doctor produces a ray gun that shoots a hole in the movie screen unleashing the monsters into the actual audience!

At first glance, Monsters Crash the Pajama Party is a lightweight goofy horror comedy, honestly, I wouldn’t even call it a horror comedy. There is no real horror to be found here. It wears the dressing of a horror movie, mad scientist, spooky house, and a killer gorilla, but it’s evident from the opening seconds that the entire thing is a lark. Whether it is a comedy or not would depend on your tolerance for the silly cornball humor of the 1960s. The middle-aged actors pretending to be hip kids probably creates more comedy than any of the dialog or plot developments.

This is a pretty good movie.

Without the context of the spook show that surrounded Monsters Crash the Pajama Party it barely exists as anything at all, once you understand how this film was meant to engaged with it becomes something else entirely. A traditional spook show was basically a variety act and haunted house ride all set inside the confines of a movie theater. There was dancing, magic, people in costumes and a general party atmosphere all driven by the hyperbolic hokum of advertising that couldn’t possibly live up to the reality. 

The culmination of many spook shows like Monsters Crash the Pajama Party involves monsters from the film running into the audience to scare and possible 'abduct' unsuspecting audience members. This was accomplished by having a couple costumes similar to ones in the film and a couple planned victims in the audience. At the proper moment in the movie there is a black out, the monsters run out grab the women and run back suddenly appearing on the screen. A simple trick but in the carnival atmosphere of the spook shows it was sheer magic.

Let's no go that far.

So on its own Monsters Crash the Pajama Party is barely a movie, but as part of something larger it seems like it could work quite well. Sadly the spook show is an extinct form of entertainment, however if you are in the mood to learn more I would highly recommend Something Weird Video's Monsters Crash the Pajama Party DVD or the Spook Show Spectacular A-Go-Go CD and DVD set which not only contains this film but a number of ads, short features, and commentary about the history of the spook show. If there’s anything that could describe the cultural phenomenon in a definitive way, this is definitely the way to go. 

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