Original release: June 15th, mind 1948
Running time: 83 minutes
Director: Charles Barton
Writers: Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo, John Grant
Cast: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lon Chaney, Jr., Béla Lugosi, Glenn Strange
Ghost, goblins and things that go bump in the night. They’re all the things a wonderful childhood should be made of and when I was growing up there was no shortage of these tales, either from family members, comic books that were laying around the house or old black and white movies that did more for the imagination than any of today’s attempts ever could. Among them was this gem from 1948, starring one of my all-time favourite comedy duos; Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.
Like many of the duo’s films, Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein sees them in over their heads with one always being slower than the other in realizing the danger they’re in. This time, they’re up against the supernatural forces of both Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster. The film starts with Chick Young (Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (Costello) working as baggage-clerks in a hotel when they receive a call from Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) in Florida. He tries to warn them about a shipment to the “McDougal House Of Horrors” (a local wax museum) which contains the actual bodies of Count Dracula (Béla Lugosi) and the Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange). Unfortunately, before he can tell them all of this, the full moon rises and he transforms in The Wolf Man. All Wilbur hears on the other end are animal-like sounds and the call is disconnected with Chick telling him it was nothing but a crank call.
Of course, Chick and Wilbur end up delivering the shipments themselves to Mr. McDougal (Frank Ferguson), but when they open one of the crates they find a coffin with “Dracula” inscribed on the front. What then follows is classic Abbott and Costello as Wilbur gets hypnotized by Dracula to help him re-animates Frankenstein’s Monster, but the duo are soon accused of theft by McDougal when he discovers both crates are now empty.
There’s also Dr. Sandra Mornay (Lénore Aubert) who’s in cahoots with Dracula and has him and the Monster staying with her at her island castle. She’s been sweet-talking Wilbur but he has no idea it’s all part of Dracula’s plan to replace the Monster’s brain with one that’s more easily influenced… Now whose brain could he have in mind?
With screen legends Lon Chaney and Jr., Béla Lugosi in great form, Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein has always managed to raise a few smiles on my face, but as a kid I remember always being terrified and fascinated by Frankenstein’s Monster. The hulking creature with the bolts protruding from the temples and assembled from old body parts and strange chemicals, who was animated by a mysterious spark is one that’s unforgettable and even to this day he’s my favourite movie villain, partly because of his appearance in this film alongside my two comedy heroes.
With its mix of comedy, horror, suspense and romance, Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein has something for everyone. It even manages to surprise with a clever ending that leaves you wanting more while giving its all.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
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