Halloween Movie Countdown #2 – Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

#2 – Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein 1948

Chick Young:  “I know there’s no such a person as Dracula.  You know there’s no such a person as Dracula.”

Wilbur Grey:  “But does Dracula know there’s no such a person?”

Wilbur (Lou Costello) and Chick (Bud Abbott) are freight handlers working at a railway station.  They get a call from Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.)  in London warning them not to deliver a certain crate to McDougal’s House of Horrors, because the crate contains the bodies of Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and the Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange).  Naturally, Wilbut thinks it is crank call so he hangs up.  McDougal himself shows up to claim the crates.  In typical Lou Costello fashion, Wilbur clumsily bumbles around while retrieving the crate, potentially damaging it.  McDougal demands that they deliver the crates to his museum so that an insurance agent can inspect them for damage.  When they do, Wilbur sees that the crates actually do contain the bodies of Dracula and the monster.  Dracula arises from his crate and revives the monster, hypnotizing Wilbur in the process.  Of course all of this action happens while Chick is offscreen doing something else.  Dracula and the Monster escape before McDougal and the insurance agent arrive.  Upon finding the crates empty, McDougal demands that Wilbur and Chick be arrested for theft.  Dracula takes Frankie to a nearby castle where Dr. Sandra Mornay is making preparations for their nefarious scheme.  They want to replace the abnormal, uncontrollable brain currently in the Frankenstein monster with a more cooperative, stupid brain.  She has found just the perfect brain for this and has been posing as this poor schmuck’s girlfiend in order to acquire it.  That brain, of course, belongs to Wilbur.

The success of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was pretty remarkable, considering that the popularity of both Abbott and Costello and the classic Universal monster movies had largely already peaked.  The movie was so successful that Universal decided to keep pairing up Abbott and Costello with other well known characters from other movies, including:  The Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Mummy, Captain Kidd, and The Keystone Kops.  As excellent as Meet Frankenstein is, there are some Abbott and Costello buffs that don’t even consider it to be their best horror-comedy.  Hold That Ghost (1941) is also very, very funny.  It originally featured the moving candle gag that was effectively recycled in Meet Frankenstein.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was just narrowly edged out by what turns out to be my favorite Halloween movie ever.  I initially saw it in a college film class that I wasn’t even taking.  My girlfriend was.  Her class was showing it that Halloween evening, so I tagged along because I thought it sounded like fun.  It was.  Dracula throws a potted plant at the Wolf Man.  It can’t really get any better than that.  Pretty soon I was hooked on both Abbott and Costello and the classic Universal monster movies of the the 1930s and 1940s.  This was in the late 1990s and before the DVD format really began to take off, so it was really quite a bit more difficult to get exposed to older movies.  When the DVD box sets of the various Abbott and Costello movies and those of the classic Universal monster movies started gettting released, I began snatching them up and they still get pretty steady play to this day.

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