I can only think only think of a handful of reasons anyone reading this blog hasn’t seen Mad Monster Party already. Maybe you didn’t know it existed. That’s fine. Or possibly you didn’t know it was available on DVD. That’s okay, too. Or perhaps as part of your spiritual walk, you’ve given up all forms of secular entertainment, even those geared towards children. That’s perfectly acceptable. But without one of those excuses or something equally valid, if you haven’t watched this Halloween treat yet, I may just have to declare you anathema.
Oh sure, it’s hardly the best of the Rankin and Bass productions, but come on, Mad Monster Party has all of the classic Universal Monsters (not to mention Phyllis Diller and a zombiefied Peter Lorre), features a freaky jazz soundtrack by Maury Laws, and stars Boris Karloff, who even sings! It’s just too much fun for any self respecting monster kid to pass up. Here’s the title track.
Okay, so maybe it’s a weird song for the Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer crowd, but I guess the little tykes have to learn about selling their souls to the devil some time, right?
Okay, maybe not.
But the song does make you think, however. With who knows how many stories having been told over the centuries of people who bartered their souls to Satan, have you ever wondered if that’s something you could actually do? You know, agree to some contract (written in blood or not) and hand over your soul to the devil? Well, the Catechism tells us that “the human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual… The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the "form" of the body: i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.” So, as Catholic Answers apologist Michelle Arnold explains, “While it is a mortal sin to attempt to sell your soul to the devil, it is impossible to do so. The soul, as the substantial form of the body, is an inalienable possession of the individual. It cannot be sold, stolen, folded, spindled, or mutilated. All one would have to do to return to a state of grace after attempting to sell one’s soul would be to go to confession.” Which is nice to know.
Of course, just because we can’t physically sell our souls doesn’t mean we can’t do so metaphorically. As Prof. Peter Kreeft explains in his book, Catholic Christianity, “He who sins is a slave to sin (see Rom 6:16). Sin is using our freedom to sell ourselves into slavery and addiction to sin. We forge the chains of our bondage with the power of our freedom.” So if your little ones happen to watch Mad Monster Party and ask you what it means to sell your soul, just give’em Kreeft’s explanation and save the heavy philosophy for later. But if they also ask you to explain how you could sell your soul at that party last night… well, you’re on your own there. Good luck.
declared anathema? Just out of curiosity, what kind of public penance would be required to be restored to the B-Movie faithful? You know Smiter will go to town with this one....
Oooh, that's a hard one. Are we talking a public penance from which others might deduce the nature of your transgression? I'd say performing a song from The Apple at your next social function, but that's probably borderline cruelty.
One of our favorite musicals! Our children grew up with this one (come to think of it, our children grew up on Godzilla, The Creeping Unknown, Invisible Invaders, Valley of Gwangi, Snow White and the Three Stooges... maybe I shouldn't be touting them as arbiters of good taste.) Very very funny,, especially Phyllis Diller, and it has great, great music.
I let my kids watch the clip and then talked to them about the "selling your soul" thing. It was a teachable moment. With music! When I took that Baptismal vow for them, I rejected "the glamor of evil," not the cuteness of claymation. But now I am starting to wonder if one can be "mastered" by the cuteness of claymation. :-?
Yep, like I said, this may not be considered a "classic" like the Christmas specials, but I find it irresistible, especially since it has my all-time favorite Creature From The Black Lagoon in it. Nice to know my children aren't the only ones who have to put up with this kind of stuff :)
I don't remember ever seeing this as a child. Then again, we had only 3 TV stations that came in clearly in cold weather. It's a shame if it had the Creature From the Black Lagoon, which was the scariest monster from my dad's youth (besides The Shadow's nemesi on radio).
Well do I remember the days of spending 15 minutes adjusting the tin foil on the antennae just right and sitting six inches from the small black and white screen just so I could make out the Saturday afternoon creature feature on some distant UHF channel. Things are too easy these days.
somebody else has recently mentioned cheesy sci-fi movies: http://catholicexchange.com/2010/10/26/139683/
This week our youth minister was wringing his hands on facebook about how Catholics have this huge cultural disadvantage, gap, blah blah blah at Halloween and I JUST Barely avoided posting "what are you talking about? after the kids are in bed we're having zombie snacks and watching The Evil Dead AND Army of Darkness! What cultural disadvantage?" but I didn't. This blog is SO necessary! Thank you!
"somebody else has recently mentioned cheesy sci-fi movies..."
Ah, the influence spreads. Now if we could only get Scott Hahn talking about I Was A Teenage Werewolf or something similar.
"This week our youth minister was wringing his hands on facebook about how Catholics have this huge cultural disadvantage, gap, blah blah blah at Halloween..."
Tell him to make a trip down here next year. One of our biggest (if not THE biggest) fund raisers for our middle and high school youth group is the annual Halloween Haunted Barn. The teens who participate are broken into small groups which are each assigned a room where they are given free reign to design the scare. The only guidelines are no overt sexuality and nothing too vomit inducing. Other than that, it's a bloody mess. It never fails to draw kids in from all over the county.
And believe it or not, it wasn't my idea.
No, you don't want Scott Hahn talking about werewolves, teenaged or otherwise. He'd evolve some theory involving covenantal transcendence or something equally boring. The only covenants I want around my werewolves involve garlic-infused projectiles of carven holly at transwarp speeds...
Hmmm, perhaps you're right. Well, how about Father Robert Barron reviewing the Alice Cooper werewolf epic Monster Dog? Nah, probably not going to happen. I guess I'll have to hold the fort for Catholic B-movie commentary for the time being.
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