Terrified teenage sorority girls fight off a mad scientist in “Monsters Crash the Pajama Party”

By on October 30, 2019

Terrified teenage sorority girls spending the night in a haunted house as part of an initiation rite fight off a mad scientist and his gorilla-suited henchman in David L. Hewitt’s Monsters Crash the Pajama Party (1965), a schlocky played-for-laughs “spook show” theatrical featurette from our friends at Something Weird, which you’ll now find streaming on Night Flight Plus.

A few years before the planned theatrical release of 1965’s Monsters Crash the Pajama Party, director David Lee Hewitt had been a traveling teenage illusionist with a “spook show” called “Dr. Jeckyll’s Strange Show.”

These spook shows would travel around the country, showing horror movies and cartoons, with magicians performing stage magic, but the highlight of these shows were the costumed actors portraying monsters and ghosts who entered the audience and scared the bejeesus out of everyone. Sometimes the theaters would also be rigged to produce various special effects.

It was through a meeting with Forrest J. Ackerman that Hewitt was able to break into the movie business, when the legendary writer/editor/memorabilia collector passed along a screenplay that Hewitt had written to a movie biz colleague.

Just a few years later Hewitt’s would be re-written, retitled, and made into the 1964 film The Time Travelers, providing him with an opening into doing more movie projects.

Hewitt had an idea for the film which became Monsters Crash the Pajama Party, which was to be screened at movie theaters around the country.

As for the plot of Monsters Crash the Pajama Party, the story is relatively simple: teenage sorority girls are enjoying themselves at a pajama party which is held in an decrepit, abandoned mansion rumored to be a haunted haunted house (of course).

None of the girls believe in ghosts, though, and fully expect that their boyfriends are going to show up at midnight in an attempt to scare them with store-bought masks, so they relax in their pajamas and wait for the fun to start.

It turns out that the house isn’t empty (of course), and a mad scientist who lives in the basement is secretly conducting surgical experiments in a laboratory, transforming beautiful teenage girls into gorillas.

The scientist needs a fresh supply of female subjects for these experiments, and instructs his henchman gorilla “Mook” to go find him more bodies to experiment on, blasting a hole in the movie screen with a laser gun.

It’s at this point during the screening that the film’s projectionist was instructed to stop the film while local hired teens dressed up in gorilla suits and monster masks and other types of costumes enter the theater to kidnap members of the audience (who were already essentially “in” on the gag), abducting and carrying them away to chain them up in his basement lair.

Then, the projectionist starts up the movie again.

Luckily for the girls, their boyfriends do arrive in time to fight off the mad scientist’s henchmen, which include a werewolf, a gorilla, and some other scary creature.

Read more about Monsters Crash the Pajama Party below.

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When Hewitt’s completed film clocked in at just 31-minutes long — much too short to be screened as a feature — Hewitt ended up adding it to his traveling spook show as an added attraction for the live audience, which featured staffers rushing into the crowd at certain points and carrying off a planted female victim while surprised audience members reacted in horror or, more likely, with bursts of laughter.

The short film — the live audience gag was similar to what happened during screenings of Ray Dennis Steckler’s horror/musical The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (1964) — remained a part of the touring Dr. Jeckyll’s Strange Show until 1968.

The film’s virtually-unknown cast included Vic McGee (as “Mad Doctor/Lieutenant Hudson”), James Raison (sometimes Reason, as “Professor Williams”), Clara Nagel (sometimes Nadel, as “Miss Petrie”), Charles Egan (sometimes Hegen, as “Igor”) and Paulien Killkurt (“Draculina”), along with Joseph Armand, Chris Hampton, Sonny Rodriguez, Walter Richard, Judith Carroll and Hewitt himself.

David L. Hewitt would end up having a long career in the movie business, directing a handful of feature-length films, like 1966/1970’s The Girls from Thunder Strip, which we also have streaming in our Something Weird section on Night Flight Plus.

His last film as a director was 1978’s The Lucifer Complex.

On the Something Weird DVD (released in 2007), a terrific black & white thriller from 1960 — Bert I. Gordon’s Tormented — is included as a bonus feature, but we’ve got the film streaming for you separately on NF Plus.

In the 72-minute long Tormented, Richard Carlson stars as a jazz pianist being threatened by an ex-girlfriend who has been stalking him, threatening to ruin his relationship with his fiancée before his upcoming wedding.

Towards the end of his career, he focused on creating special effects and title card and optical sequences for feature films like The Outing, The Kindred, The Evil Dead II, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Willow, Wes Craven’s Shocker, Millennium, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and many, many more.

Watch Monsters Crash the Pajama Party and other great films from Something Weird on Night Flight Plus.

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.
  • Frederick Flintstone

    Surely, by the staging, this was shot (but maybe never shown) in 3-D? Regardless, it’s a hoot.