Monday, July 22, 2013

#1,071. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

Directed By: Charles Barton

Starring: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lon Chaney Jr.

Tag line: "Jeepers! The creepers are after Bud and Lou!"

Trivia: Originally the Mummy was to be included in the cast of monsters, but that idea was eventually dropped

If I was to compile a list of my favorite horror comedies, It would probably include a few older movies (like Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Two Thousand Maniacs!), a handful of newer ones (Shaun of the Dead and the underrated Doghouse), and, of course, Evil Dead 2, Return of the Living Dead, and Re-Animator (I couldn’t possibly leave those off). 

As with all lists, the tricky part is trying to rank the movies. But one thing is certain: 1948’s Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, a damn funny film that simultaneously pays tribute to the Universal monster movies of the ‘30s and ‘40s, would be right up near the top!

Baggage clerks Chick (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur (Lou Costello) find themselves in over their heads when they deliver a couple of crates to a wax museum. Instead of wax dummies, these crates contain the bodies of Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and Frankenstein’s Monster (Glenn Strange), who have come to America to find the Monster a new brain. 

To assist in this quest, Dracula teams up with beautiful scientist Sandra Mornay (Lenore Aubert), who is tasked with seducing Wilbur; apparently, his “simple” brain makes him the perfect donor. 

Things take an even darker turn when Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) - aka The Wolfman - suddenly turns up. Hoping to stop Dracula from carrying out his evil plan, Talbot instead transforms into a werewolf whenever there’s a full moon, leaving poor Chick and Wilbur with yet another monster to worry about!

With all due respect to Buck Privates and their “Who’s on First” routine, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is the funniest thing that Bud Abbott and Lou Costello ever did. With Abbott playing the straight man, Lou is haunted by creaking coffins, moving candles, and a collection of monsters that are forever sneaking up on him. The comedy routines the duo concocted are hilarious, and when it comes to milking laughs out of a tense situation, few have done it as well as Lou Costello (the scene where he’s standing beside a coffin reading the Legend of Dracula, only to be interrupted by Dracula himself, is hysterical). 

What’s more, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is also a nifty continuation of the great Universal horror films, with Lon Chaney Jr. and Bela Lugosi playing the roles that made them famous (Glenn Strange, who portrayed the monster in 1944’s House of Frankenstein, joins in as well). I loved how none of these actors were out to get laughs; from start to finish, Lugosi, Chaney and company approached the movie as if they were in a straight-up horror film.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein does, on occasion, satirize the classic Universal monster movies, but never once does it mock them. This, combined with some truly funny moments provided by its two stars, has earned it an eternal spot on my all-time favorite horror comedies list.


Unknown said...

Ah, yet another one of my all time favorite comedies! This is the funniest Abbott and Costello I've ever seen :)

James Robert Smith said...

I adored this film when I was a kid. But I have to admit that I haven't seen it since I was about ten years old. 48 years ago, that was.

Speedolite1 said...

A great film. It makes a complete circle, a phrase I like to use that describes a movie that hits the target on all fronts, comedy, horror, frightening scenes and the music.