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Thursday, October 25, 2012

October 25- Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

After the end of World War II, the public wasn't frightened as much by the thought of undead monsters or monster movies, in general. This is because, with the invention of the atom bomb and the onset of the Cold War, people were more terrified of the dangers of real life. This is when Universal decided to revamp their classic monsters for a comedic purpose. In the center of these films beside the monsters were the most important comedy duo of the 1940's, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. This duo did a whole host of movies in which they meet the monsters of Universal Studios. The best known of these films is Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. This movie features Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolf Man for the 5th and final time. It also features Glenn Strange, returning as the Frankenstein Monster, and Bela Lugosi finally reprises his role as Count Dracula, the role that made him a movie star 17 years prior.

The Legendary Comedy Duo, Abbott and Costello
The movie begins with Larry Talbot calling a railway station in Florida, where Wilbur Grey (Costello) and Chick Young (Abbott) are employed. Talbot urges the two to not give a certain shipment to a Mr. McDougal. Assuming it is a crank call, Grey hangs up the phone. Shortly afterwards, McDougal (Frank Ferguson)comes asking for the crates, which supposedly (and actually) contain the bodies of Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster. McDougal wants the crates delivered and opened at "McDougal's House of Horrors." While unloading the crates, Grey begins to experience a lot of strange things. Essentially, Dracula is screwing with him. The Monster is revived enough to walk out of the place with Dracula, and refers to Dracula as "Master." McDougal arrives to no "exhibits" and the two delivery boys are arrested.

Wilbur is so shocked, he can't react.
Dracula arrives at a castle and is greeted by a Dr. Sandra Mornay, who has been posing as Greys girlfriend at Dracula's request. The Count's plan is to use Wilbur's brain to make the Monster a mindless, completely obedient creature.

After getting out of jail, Wilbur and Chick are met by Jane Raymond (Jane Randolph), an insurance agent in charge of finding the exhibits, and Larry Talbot, who had tracked Dracula and the Monster from Europe. The four go to a "masquerade ball" and the house of Baron Leighos (actually Dracula). After attempting to look for Dracula and the Monster with Chick, Wilbur is captured and told of the plan to transplant his brain into the Monster by Sandra. After a failed escape by Wilbur, with the help of Chick and Talbot, the Monster is revived and begins destroying everything in his path. Wilbur and Chick attempt to escape, only to be followed by the Monster.

Lugosi's curtain call as Count Dracula

Talbot turns into the Wolf Man and begins to fight Dracula. While trying to turn into a bat to escape, the Wolf Man grabs him and jumps out the window into the ocean. Meanwhile, Wilbur and Chick manage to escape the castle and find a boat that will take them to safety. The Monster, still pursuing the two men, is brought to an end by Joan, who burns down the pier, making the Monster fall into the ocean, presumably dying. With all the commotion over, Wilbur is angry at Chick and says that he should believe him more often. Just then, the two hear a voice (Vincent Price) that says, "Allow me to introduce myself. I am the Invisible Man." The two turn around to see a cigarette seemingly floating in midair. Terrified, Wilbur and Chick jump out of the boat and swim away as the Invisible Man laughs.

The three legendary monsters, one final time.
This film is a true classic. It is not only extremely funny, due to the over-the-top, zany humor that Lou Costello brings to the film. Along with the fact that, for almost the entire movie, Chick refuses to believe that Wilbur is actually seeing Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster, this movie is irresistibly funny for people of all ages. This film is also recognized as the unofficial end of the Universal Studios monster/ horror movie cycle. It is the last film made by Universal during this era that features all three of the classic monster: Dracula, the Wolf Man, and Frankenstein's Monster. This is an amazing send off for three of the most iconic horror monsters of all time. I recommend this movie for its comedic value, its star power, and its historical significance as far as the horror genre is concerned.

I give Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein an effortless 5 out of 5.

1 comment:

  1. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is on my top ten of all time. It's not one the greatest films in cinema history but it's on the list nonetheless right up there with The Searchers, The Grapes Of Wrath, both Godfathers, Chinatown, Raging Bull, How Green Was My Valley, etc..
    What a joy this movie is. First off, it's A&C's funniest picture. The sight gags, one liners and their interaction with the monsters and each other are priceless. Then there are the monsters. What a stroke of brilliance and judgement and direction to have the monsters play it straight for the most part. They WERE Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolf Man (and the Invisible Man, with the bonafide Invisible one, Vincent Price, whose voice is just as distinguishable as Claude Rains'). Is there a scarier Wolf Man scene than when he is tearing up that chair to pieces? Glen Strange returns as a talking Frankenstein Monster, which is cool, even though he only says "Yes, Master" And who is the master? Universal finally gets it right going out the door by bringing back the immortal Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula. and Lugosi steals the show. This Dracula is a wonder to behold. Different from 1931, less "out there" and more, well, Bela Lugosi. What joy when I was a kid, and every time I watch it to see the original Universal monster play his timeless role again. and along side Lon Chaney Jr., back as the Wolf Man. He is essentially Bud and Lou's straight man. "When the moon rises I turn into a wolf." Lou: "You and twenty million other guys." I laugh every time. It's great to see The Wolf Man fight not the Monster this time, but Dracula. It's a pretty lame fight if you look closely, but fun anyway. What Dracula is doing trying to revive the monster instead of just biting people's necks is never explained, nor is it important. And is there a better straight man than Bud Abbott? His befuddlement at Lou getting all the girls is hilarious as is his trying to get Lou to share the wealth.
    A wealth of laughs, thrills and chills. Oh, and how cool are the Dracula into bat transformations? Everyone in the picture has their great moments. From top to bottom, a ten out of five stars.