31 Weeks to Halloween: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
...with more howls than you can shake a shiver at!
This week in New York, the temperature is beginning to drop, the days are becoming cooler and shorter, and summer is finally coming to its graceful end. And with that, we are one week closer to the one day horror fans look forward to every year: Halloween! As we take one more step closer to the end of our 31 Weeks to Halloween countdown, we have officially closed the book on the main storylines involving the big monsters: Frankenstein, Dracula, Invisible Man, Wolf Man, The Mummy. From this week until the end of our countdown, the only films that remain are the Abbott and Costello comedy films which feature the monsters and the one monster that didn't make its debut until 1954 (but more on that in two weeks)! Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein debuted to audiences in 1948 and it became a massive success - both financially and critically. Audiences ate this film up, and for good reason: even 72 years later, this movie still holds up as one of the best horror comedies of all time. Besides the fact that it reunites three of the biggest names in classic horror - Bela Lugosi as Dracula, Lon Chaney Jr. as The Wolf Man and Glenn Strange as Frankenstein - the film is probably one of the most clean and fun horror comedies ever released, filled with that amazing mid-1900s innocent comedy that we can only see now on reruns on Nick At Nite. Having the hilarious comedy duo Abbott and Costello cross paths with three of Universal's most iconic monsters of all time was an absolutely genius idea, and the remarkable storyline they created for them makes for a must-see film. All three of the monsters get plenty of on screen time and they look just as amazing as they did in their original films (keep in mind, Lugosi debuted his Dracula character 17 years earlier!). While a lot of the Universal Monster films we've seen in this countdown definitely have some light comedic elements to it, this film was literally designed to make you laugh - and laugh you will! I cannot recommend this movie enough to fans young and old - this is one of Universal's gems in their lineup and anyone who cannot appreciate how amazing this is must be dead inside.
Chick Young (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (Lou Costello) are working as baggage claim clerks at a train station in Florida when Wilbur answers an international phone call telling him not to release the two crates addressed to "McDougal's House Of Horrors" to anyone, as they contain the bodies of Count Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster! On the other end of the line is the most innocent Universal Monster - Lawrence Talbot aka The Wolf Man - who is, as always, trying to be an honest man and do the right thing by protecting humans. But before he can actually tell Wilbur what's inside, the full moon rises and he transitions into a werewolf so, of course, Wilbur releases the crates to McDougal, who insists that the two baggage clerks personally bring the crates to his home to ensure there had not been any damage to them. Once there and the crates are opened, Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster are unleashed upon humanity once again, and Dracula has a master plan to reinvent the Monster, and give him a dumber and less violent brain so that he may control the Monster like a puppy. And who's a better candidate for the procedure than the bonehead Wilbur?! Will The Wolf Man be able to stop the operation before it's too late, or will the mad doctor successfully implant Wilbur's brain in the Monster's body forever?! Find out in... ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN!
This movie is one that, as a Universal Monsters fan, I didn't realize I needed, but now I cannot live without. You get to see these three characters in a little more lighthearted fashion; you'll see Dracula smiling as he interacts with Dr. Sandra Mornay (Lenore Aubert), the woman he's hired to do the procedure. You'll see Frankenstein's Monster both obeying Dracula's orders and going crazy, throwing someone out a window; it's an awesome display of characteristics. And honestly, while there's so many amazing things you could pull apart about this movie (small things, such as how fucking awesome Dracula's transitions into a bat are), it's the sum of all its parts that is, simply put, an amazing and hilarious film. Abbott and Costello are absolute masters of their craft, and their interactions with each other when Wilbur sees the monsters and Chick doesn't, and then their interactions when they do is just priceless. There's no doubt that the duo are funny dudes - the legacy they left behind is unbelievable - but this film really is just that. fucking. good. Please just take my word for it and add this to your October watch-list; I can almost guarantee you'll rewatch it a second time before the spooky season is over! The monsters look incredible, the laughs truly are monstrous and it's just an overall hell of a comedy. There's a reason this movie has been deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress - it's magnificent.