Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein

Dir: Charles Barton, 1948. Starring: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Glenn Strange. Classics.
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein

Zombieland, The Fearless Vampire Killers, Shaun Of The Dead, An American Werewolf in London... All often funny and often scary. All entertaining horror comedies.

Who would guess that the grandaddy of them all, the film that created the genre, came from two near dead franchises combining forces to create a classic and a landmark in the merging of film genres?

By the late forties it was looking like the comedy team of Bud Abbott & Lou Costello had peaked as number one box office stars during the war years (the next big comedy team of Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin were about to take over as the top screen comedy attractions). By 1948 Universal Pictures' "Famous Monster" series had also run out of steam (it would make a slight comeback in the fifties with the aid of 3-D mania). Miraculously the two combined forces perfectly, in what proves to be both a very funny movie, and one that delivers on the scares and thrills as well, in the modestly titled Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein.

The plot actually plays much smoother then it sounds.... Newly arrived in the States from Europe, Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and the sexy Dr. Sandra Morney (Lenore Aubert) are attempting to revive Frankenstein’s Monster (Glenn Strange). They decide to use the dimwitted brain of Wilbur Grey (Costello, of course). Meanwhile they are being tracked by the tortured Larry Talbot AKA The Wolf Man (the always tortured Lon Chaney Jr.). It all leads to an amazing chase through an old island castle with the two comedy stars and the three iconic monsters.

Bud and Lou would try to repeat the formula many times more, “meeting” among others The Mummy and Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde. But they would never have the success financially or critically that they had “meeting” Frankenstein.

Besides understanding the roots of today's "horror comedies," Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein is both a perfect introduction to the comedy team and to the great Universal horror films of the '30s and '40s. And unlike so many of the other films of both genres, this one gets funnier and even scarier with age.

 

Posted by:
Sean Sweeney
Feb 22, 2010 4:03pm
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