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If Frankenstein or Dracula
Appeared and had his back to ya,
Would you be voiceless in surprise
Or too afraid to paralyze?
Perhaps you’d wake the neighborhood
With every bellow, if you could,
Or call a hotline in distress
Until they hear what you confess
And hang up on your craziness.

Perhaps you’d try to call a friend,
Who might be quick to condescend
If you appear at your wits’ end.
Perhaps you’d flee, still shivering,
But by that time your dithering
Would let the monsters notice you
And do what monsters tend to do.
Next time don’t wait to prove it’s true.

MPAA rating: PG

Okay, one more horror review for October, if this can be classified as horror. After I covered an anthology from the ‘70s, a classic from the ‘80s, and a modern cult classic, my VC thought I should review a much older and lighthearted member of the genre.

I can’t say I’m familiar with Abbott and Costello, but I enjoyed their antagonistic pairing in the spirit of Laurel and Hardy and predating Gilligan and the Skipper. In Abbott and Costello’s case, though, the thin one is gruff and bossy (Bud Abbott), while the stout one is the absentminded goofball (Lou Costello). My VC actually had the two confused until I told her who was who and rattled her perception of the universe.

The film itself is a fairly entertaining crossover, with Abbott and Costello meeting not only Frankenstein (Glenn Strange) but also Dracula (Béla Lugosi) and the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney, Jr.). Dracula plans to transplant the brain of Wilbur Grey (Costello) into the Frankenstein Monster, while the Wolf Man, Lawrence Talbot, tries to save him in between full-moon transformations. This was actually the last appearance of Chaney as the Wolf Man, and the only other time Lugosi played Dracula other than his famous 1931 film.

The presence of the monsters is really the only thing that would classify this as a horror, since the title duo ensure there are plenty of witty one-liners and slapstick. The horror-comedy combination actually reminded me a lot of Scooby-Doo, such as how Costello would scream and mutter about seeing a monster while incredulous Abbott would arrive just as the creature disappeared. I was actually surprised at how many aspects of the film seemed to have been copied by later ones, such as a hidden revolving wall anticipating the bookcase scene in Young Frankenstein. The monster-filled climax featured Dracula and the Wolf Man fighting and was like a CGI-less version of the final battle in Van Helsing. Even the very last gag was blatantly ripped off in the final scene of last year’s Goosebumps.

If Scooby-Doo is as scary as you want to get, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is a fun little caper, the last for the original three Universal monsters. The ending isn’t very decisive, but between the title pair’s friendly bickering, the spooky Gothic sets, and the presence of classic horror legends, it’s an amusing romp even decades later.

Best line: (Abbott as Chick Young) “Get up on your feet. It’s only a dummy.”   (Costello as Wilbur Grey) “Dummy nothin’. It was smart enough to scare me.”


Rank: List Runner-Up


© 2016 S.G. Liput
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