Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948, Charles Barton)

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An occasional series where I watch and review works inspired by Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula…

These reviews reveal plot twists.

Setting: Initially in London, then Florida in 1948.

Faithful to the novel? This film was the first in a series where comedy duo Abbott and Costello (playing different characters each time) met classic villains from Universal Pictures’ run of horror movies. Dracula, for example, is played by Béla Lugosi – the only time he ever reprised his role from the 1931 adaptation of the book. The Count’s ‘corpse’ and that of Frankenstein’s monster (Glenn Strange) are being transported to an American museum. When railroad delivery clerks Chick Young (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (Lou Costello) drop the crates off, however, the two horror icons wake up and the Count wants swap the monster’s brain with that of Wilbur’s. Dracula can morph into a bat, an effect achieved by some nice animation. Later, the Wolfman (Lon Chaney Jr) arrives to stop the Count’s evil plan, while the Invisible Man makes a cameo at the end (voiced by an uncredited Vincent Price).

Best performance: Lou Costello – the shorter, fatter, dumber one – is very silly and very funny.

Best bit: Wilbur keeps seeing Dracula in and out of his coffin, but it only happens when Chick is out of the room. A section of the sequence involves a candle sliding about on Dracula’s coffin lid as the Count lifts it up – the joke had also been in used in A&C’s earlier film Hold The Ghost.

Review: Funny, likeable stuff, but also played for frights at times. Despite the film’s title, Dr Frankenstein doesn’t appear.

Seven insurance investigators out of 10

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