Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone – review


Director: Ray Patterson

First aired: 1979

Contains spoilers

The Flintstones was one of the first adult aimed syndicated cartoons. In a way it feels as though this had more of an awareness of the child following the show had gathered but, in truth, it is probably that expectations have changed over the years. This special was released on VHS but not (at time of review) on DVD – though it still airs on Boomerang, from time to time.

The show starts with Fred (Henry Corden) and Wilma (Jean Vander Pyl) getting ready to go out – in fancy dress. Fred is, essentially, a prehistoric chicken, and Wilma a rabbit. They are aiming to go to the TV show Deal or Don’t, with Monty Marble (Casey Kasem), where contestants are chosen by costume. Barney (Mel Blanc) is dressed as a daisy and Betty (Gay Autterson) is a bumble bee.

deal or don'tThe first contestant chosen is Barney, he is given $1000 and asked whether he will trade it for what is behind the curtain. He doesn’t, to Fred’s disgust. Fred is then given the same opportunity and choice… he is about to keep the money but, having been called a chicken, takes the curtain. He has won an all expenses trip to Rocksylvania and the grand opening of the tourist hotel. Barney is offered the same prize and accepts.

castle RockulaThey arrive and are met at the station by Igor (Don Messick) who drives them to the hotel. There is the sound of wolves but Igor assures them there are no wolves only werewolves – the one thing that Count Rockula (John Stephenson) was scared of. To protect himself he built a Frankenstone Monster (Ted Cassidy) – hereafter referred to as Frankenstone as that is what the cartoon called him. Rockula vanished 500 years ago.

costumes onThe party at the hotel is a costume party and their costumes have been provided, Fred and Wilma are Count and Countess Rockula, and Barney and Betty are Frankenstone and the Bride of Frankenstone. The boys end up in Rockula’s laboratory at one point and see the real Frankenstone – though Fred believes it to be part of the hotel’s theme. Unusually, the awakening of the monsters is not down to Fred and Barney.

waking RockulaA lightening bolt awakens Frankenstone and he wakes the Count up – 400 years later than he should have done. Of course the Count is less than happy with party revellers in his castle and scares everyone away. Everyone, that is, except the Flintstones and Rubbles as they went to bed early.

mummy gag owes much to MonkeesNow the show does owe a little to Bud Abbott and Lou Costello meet Frankenstein - though in gags and not in storyline. Actually the inclusion of a mummy gag has more to do with the Monstrous Monkee Mash. It would have been very easy for the writer to go down a borrow a brain for the monster line – honestly either Fred or Barney would have done!

Wilma gives short shriftHowever the crux of the story is that Wilma actually looks like the Countess. There is a moment of mistaken identity but that is quickly sorted out. Instead the Count decides she will be his new bride and, given that even in Rocksylvania it is illegal to marry a woman already married, she needs to be a widow.

bat transformationLore wise we don’t get too much. There is reference to a werewolf/vampire divide – though as I mentioned it is the vampire fearing the werewolf. Rockula can turn into a bat (and this is achieved with quite a pyrotechnic effect). He must be in his coffin during the daylight hours (thus a rooster impersonator can be a boon in evading vampires!). That’s about it.

Rockula stalks WilmaOf course, there is how the vampire is defeated but… well I won’t overly spoil that for you but it is less a vampiric issue and more a battle of the sexes! This is fun, but is vampire-lite as it were. I think the cartoon treads the line between adult and children’s entertainment badly and it falls, now, definitively on the children’s entertainment side. Not that there is anything wrong with that but I don’t think it was designed as that. 6 out of 10 as a kid’s cartoon.

The imdb page is here.


Uranium Willy said...

Good to see you back and pumping out some vamp reviews on a regular basis again. I saw this a long time ago and it is cool to have it revived in my failing memory. Always good stuff.


Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hiyah Bill

its still kind of touch and go as I have no net connection at home at all, at the moment. Thus I'm posting from work, in my lunch breaks! Weekends will be a problem but - touch wood - we'll find out what the problem is soon and get it fixed!

Happy to have sparked a memory or two