Director: Charles T. Barton
Writers: Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo, and John Grant
Cast: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, Glenn Strange, Lenore Aubert, Jane Randolph, Frank Ferguson, and Charles Bradstreet
Composer: Frank Skinner
Release Date: 6/15/1948
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Incompetent freight handlers Chick (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur (Lou Costello) are tasked with transporting the remains of Frankenstein’s creature and Count Dracula, the latter of whom escapes from his coffin and, with the aid of Sandra Mornay (Lenore Aubert), hatches a plot to replace the Monster’s brain with that of Wilbur. Hot on Dracula’s trail, Larry Talbot attempts to warn Chick and Wilbur of the count’s fiendish plan before his “hairy” predicament prevents him from doing so.
The quintessential comedy/horror piece, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein contains enough good, clean fun for the whole family to enjoy during Halloween season. Especially worth noting are the antics of Chick and Wilbur, which humorously accentuate the straight-faced performances of Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, and Glenn Strange.
As opposed to the slapdash circumstances whereby Dracula, Frankenstein’s creature, and the Wolf Man were united in House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein combines all three monsters in a coherent and complementary fashion. Larry Talbot in particular is employed most effectively, serving as both a straight man and an anti-hero when confronted with Wilbur and Count Dracula, respectively. Also at the top of his game, Lugosi portrayed Dracula with an elegant, serious manner so as to counter the high jinks of his bumbling yet meddlesome adversary.
In contrast to The Munsters, Young Frankenstein, and other parodies operating on a related premise, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein never elicits laughter at the monsters’ direct expense. Rather, Chick and Wilbur bear the comedic burden by reacting to—albeit not degrading—the Wolf Man, Dracula, and Frankenstein’s monster; specifically, the routine in this case centers on Lou Costello and his kooky encounters, whereas Bud Abbott fulfills his “straight man” role by offering a variety of incredulous retorts to the outlandish claims of his idiotic accomplice. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein should therefore be commended for poking fun at Universal Studios’ ensemble of classic monsters without resorting to caricatures of a potentially undermining nature—an approach that would later be utilized to a similar, though not quite as memorable, effect when pitting Abbott and Costello against the Mummy, the Invisible Man, and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde.
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein bids a fond farewell to the iconic Universal Monster trio. For those in search of a good-old-fashioned Frankenstein spoof sans the raunchy humor of Young Frankenstein, this one is a must.
Overall Quality: 10/10
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