Hey Abbott! The bumbler and the straight man meet the creatures of the night in this funny film that was said to mark the end of the Universal Monsters era. It didn’t happen that way with me, but more on that later. Let’s open up the crypt and see if there are still laughs within.
Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) is frantically calling a shipping company to make sure two ominous crates are not delivered to McDougal’s (Frank Ferguson) House of Horrors. The phone is answered by Wilbur (Lou Costello) who misunderstands the snarling message thanks to the full moon in London. He’s chastised by his partner Chick (Bud Abbott) and it isn’t the first or last time.
Chick can’t understand what Dr. Sandra Mornay (Lenore Aubert) sees in the pudgy, clumsy Wilber but she says that he has a lovely cranium. Women! Wilbur and Chick deliver the boxes and Wilber discovers that they contain the not-so-dead bodies of Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and Frankenstein (Glenn Strange), who quickly escape and leave McDougal fuming at the boys.
We find out that Sandra is in league with the monsters and wanting to put Wilber’s brain in Frankenstein’s body. Larry Talbot soon arrives and tries to prevent this horror but Larry turning into the Wolf Man during the full moon makes his assistance a bit hairy.
This may not be the way it really happened but the brain I keep in a jar on the corner of the old review desk tells me it is so, probably unreliably. Most critics’ state that A&C meet Frankenstein marks the end of the Universal Monster era. If the monsters can be lampooned by the antics of those two then they’ve lost their scare power.
However, the way this worked out for my perhaps faulty memory was in reverse in my case. I think the first Universal Monster film I saw was A&C meet Frankenstein, enjoyed it very much, and then went back and discovered those Universal horrors. So thanks Bud and Lou.
Those movies never scared me though, but I found them artistically pleasing and well worth discovering. I think the appeal crosses boundaries since A&C fans get the duo, Universal Monsters get to see them again, and everyone has a coffin full of laughs. The film is a classic in both genres.
Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein is presented in a 1080p transfer (1.33:1). Special features include a commentary with historian Gregory W. Mank (A&C meet Mankenstein?), the 33 minute “Abbott and Costello meet the Monsters” about how the success of this film had the comedy duo meeting other creatures (though never as classic as this one), the 2 minute theatrical trailer, and the familiar 100 Years of Universal featurettes: The Lot (9 minutes) and Unforgettable Characters (8 minutes). You also get a DVD and digital copy.
Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein is just plain fun. It has a chill or two, but the comedy keeps you in stitches (or busting them if you’ve been reassembled from some grave robbing). It’s good to see Lugosi in cape again and Chaney bay at the moon as well. Strange is no Boris but still has a fun time hamming it up with Costello.
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