Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is the best of horror and comedy. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello are an old fashioned comedy duo best known for their “Who’s on first?” routine. They were so popular in the 40’s that Universal-International allowed them to interact with their biggest monsters. I’m sure I would’ve been exposed to the comedians eventually, but Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein had to be my first introduction. My parents encouraged my brother and I to watch it when we were younger. Although I didn’t fully grasp the idea of Frankenstein’s Monster, Count Dracula, or the Wolf Man in comedic situations. Even The Munsters was difficult for me to imagine, but Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is an affectionate parody. It frankly gives the “big three” more dignity than they had in the more serious House of Frankenstein or House of Dracula. The movie appropriately begins with an animated opening. Abbott and Costello play a bumbling pair of baggage clerks named Chick and Wilbur.
I quickly caught on to Abbott being the straight man and Costello being the goofball. Their gags, slapstick, and zany antics are consistently hilarious throughout. Just as funny is every famous monster being played straight. Almost every actor surprisingly said yes. Lon Chaney Jr. is as tragic as ever while playing Larry Talbot. The Wolf Man makeup is a little sillier, but the werewolf is just as ferocious without killing anyone. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is the only monster movie to bring Bela Lugosi back in the role that made him iconic. Dracula makes theatrical use of his cape, but he’s still more intimidating than anyone else who played the vampire. Animation is used extensively to bring Dracula’s bat transformation to life. Boris Karloff once again said no to returning, but at least Glenn Strange has more to do as Frankenstein’s Monster. He even speaks a few times. Unlike the House of… series, the monsters are actually allowed to interact. The plot follows Larry desperately trying to prevent Dracula’s coffin and the Monster’s crate from being taken to “McDougal’s House Of Horrors.” Wilbur is frightened by everything, but Chick is none the wiser.
Dracula plans to fully control the Monster with a more simple brain. Wilbur is just the simpleton for the job. Exotic beauty Lenore Aubert plays Wilbur’s deceptive sweetheart Dr. Sandra Mornay who’s secretly working with the Count. Chick is even more baffled when Wilbur is also pursued by undercover insurance investigator Joan Raymond played by traditional beauty Jane Randolph. They go on a double date to the house of Dracula where the spooky antics continue. Dracula turns Sandra and controls the clueless Professor Stevens in an attempt to secure Wilbur’s brain. The climax is hilarious, but it’s also a monster fans dream come true. Abbott and Costello are primarily chased by the Monster throughout the house. Meanwhile, Dracula and the Wolf Man engage in the first vampire and werewolf fight. The Wolf Man overpowers Dracula, but they both perish at the same time. The Monster goes out in a blaze of glory as well. Chick and Wilbur take a sign of relief, but the Invisible Man isn’t far behind. The Vincent Price cameo gives even more credibility to the horror comedy. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein gave the monsters one last hurrah before retirement.
Followed by: Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man