Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

“You know that person you said there’s no such person? I think he’s in there… in person.”

ACMF Poster

Synopsis:
The bodies of Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and Frankenstein’s monster (Glenn Strange) come to life after being delivered to a wax museum, and freight handlers Abbott and Costello are caught up in the commotion that ensues. Werewolf Lon Chaney arrives on the scene to try to prevent Dracula from implanting Costello’s brain into the monster, but is hampered by his troublesome lycanthropy.

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Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this comedic horror flick is widely considered by Abbott and Costello fans to be their “finest picture”. The special effects and make-up are “nifty”, the sets are appropriately spooky, and the diverse cast of monsters (playing it “straight”, as though they’re in a horror film rather than a comedy) are “treated with respect and affection.” This is a rare film that contains both moments of genuine terror and side-splitting slapstick humor.

Redeeming Qualities:

  • The truly creepy opening scene in the wax museum
    Dracula
  • Spooky gothic sets
  • Costello chatting with Chaney over the phone, as Chaney transforms into a werewolf
  • An impressive combination of classic horror and comedy


Must See?

Yes. While it’s not my favorite Abbott and Costello flick (see my reviews of The Naughty Nineties and Buck Privates instead), it’s widely considered to be one of their best movies, and is certainly a highly creative “fusion” venture.

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One Response to “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)”

  1. A must.

    Though I don’t recall the other two A&C vehicles mentioned at the moment, I think this holds up quite well (I hadn’t seen it in waaay too many years) and is a unique and successful blend of comedy and classic horror. (The classic Universal horror look/feel is very much intact – this is moody as all get out and comes complete with a stirring score.)

    Efficiently directed by Charles Barton (esp. the multiple shenanigans near the end), ‘A&CMF’ is, in a sense, like something from the contemporary ‘Naked Gun’ series: some of the gags are very slight, but you don’t mind cause so many others have punch.

    There are some terrific lines in the snappy script, i.e.:

    Abbott: Sandra, how can you look me in the face and say that?
    Costello: How can you look him in the face?, period.

    Chaney: In half-an-hour, the moon will rise and I’ll turn into a wolf.
    Abbott: You and 40 million other guys.

    Abbott: Do you know what could happen if I meet Dracula in the woods?
    Costello: I’ll bite.
    Abbott: Oh, no, you gotta get in line.

    Of course, the potion of the three horror stories together is nonsensical logic, but it works as best it can, and what does it matter anyway? Lugosi (5 years away from ‘Woodland’) does a nice riff on his own mythology; Strange is effective, if not expected to do much outside of being generally menacing, and Chaney, surprisingly, turns in what amounts to a genuinely touching dramatic performance. (Also, after just seeing ‘Confessions of an Opium Eater’, imagine my glee at hearing Vincent Price’s ‘walk-on’ at the end, as the Invisible Man!)

    If for no other reason, ffs should see this for its place in cinema history. Young, budding ffs as well can benefit from seeing A&C to good effect here. They really are quite delightful.

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