Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
“Jeepers! The creepers are after Bud and Lou!”
Synopsis: Two hapless freight handlers find themselves encountering Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster and the Wolf Man.
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is the first of seven extremely silly movies featuring a blend of lovable comedy duo and classic monsters. Though the movie occasionally suffers in the pacing department, Abbott and Costello provide some excellent laughs – and the movie is made even better by their playing opposite some of the actors who made the classic monsters famous on the silver screen. This is more light-hearted family fun than anything else, but horror fans may get a kick out of seeing Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man all together scaring the willies out of Abbott and Costello.
Bela Lugosi, Glenn Strange, and Lon Chaney Jr. (Dracula, Frankenstein, and Wolf Man, respectively) all reprise their roles from earlier Universal horror flicks, raising the hilarious question of whether this comedy flick counts as canon in the continuity of Universal’s monster movies. Adding an extra layer of odd, despite the title of the movie, Abbott and Costello play freight handler characters rather than being themselves. (This was actually problematic for me; I felt that freight handler Wilbur/Costello character focused too much on being stupid and scared rather than confused, which is a distinction I always enjoyed in the comedy duo’s original radio shows.) This colorful cast is rounded out with some familiar extras, including Jane Randolph as one of Wilbur’s two(!) ladies.
Even without the solid performances, the sheer silliness of this movie makes it fun. Dracula blackmails a mad scientist to restore Frankenstein’s monster under his control… while pursued by the Wolf Man… as they work to collect Lou Costello’s brain for science. We have monster effects from the ‘40s and some very hit or miss sets rounding out the ridiculousness of the movie. Younger audiences in particular will enjoy the visual gags and slapstick, but in a movie this full of laughs, it’d be hard not to find one that would make even grizzled horror fans crack a smile. (My personal favorite was the repeated visual gag of Dracula doing the White Zombie stare.)
Even if you didn’t grow up with Abbott and Costello and lack the nostalgia of older (or confused younger) audiences, this is a fun flick to share with non-horror family members. Serve up the popcorn and get ready to giggle for this one.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: B