Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

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Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Glenn Strange, Lenore Aubert, Jane Randolph, Frank Ferguson, Charles Bradstreet, Vincent Price
Written by: Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo, John Grant
Directed by: Charles T. Barton
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 83
Date: 06/14/1948

Monster Mash

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Apparently Quentin Tarantino and I both credit this as our very first movie; I saw it on TV when I was about seven and it changed my life. It’s ridiculous, of course, but the combination of classic monsters, dizzy sets and some of Bud and Lou’s funniest bits make it a keeper.

Dracula (Bela Lugosi) concocts an evil plan to resurrect the Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange) and take over the world. But Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) teams up with baggage handlers Chick Young (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (Lou Costello) to stop them.

Frank Ferguson is very funny as the blustery, easily perturbed Mr. McDougal, who runs the “house of horrors” and is responsible for the whole mess. Lenore Aubert and Jane Randolph play the beautiful women who are both after Wilbur, for different reasons.

The plot stretches once or twice, zipping through the course of a day, so that Talbot can turn into the Wolf Man again. The effects, including Dracula transforming into a cartoon bat, are actually kind of quaint, and I love that animated title sequence.

It’s too bad Boris Karloff couldn’t play the monster; watching Strange here really proves what a great actor Karloff was, but Vincent Price turns up in a cameo to make up for it. Interestingly, this was only the second and final time Lugosi played Dracula, and he played a legitimate vampire only three times (including The Return of the Vampire, made at Columbia Pictures in 1944).

Many horror fans credit the success of this comedy with the death of the Universal monster movie cycle.

DVD Details: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is still available on on its fairly old single-disc release, as well as in a new 15-disc box set, featuring every single Abbott and Costello movie at Universal (28 titles in all). A reasonably-priced two-disc DVD set with Frankenstein and seven (!) other A&C movies is now out of print. In 2012, Universal released a new Blu-ray/DVD combo set in conjunction with the studio’s 100th anniversary.

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