Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

08/13/2015 15:43

Film: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Year: 1948

Director: Charles Barton

Writer: Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo and John Grant

Starring: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello and Lon Chaney Jr.



This film begins in London. Inside of a hotel room making a call is the Wolf Man, played by Lon Chaney Jr. He is making a call to the states and it is answered by Lou Costello. Along with his friend, played by Bud Abbott, they work a baggage claim. Chaney tells Costello not to let two boxes make it to the house of horrors in town until he gets there.

He is ignored though. We meet both of the female leads inside the baggage claim; one is really an insurance investigator who followed the boxes because they were insured for so much, she is played by Jane Randolph. The other is Costello’s girlfriend, who is played by Lenore Aubert. The new owner of the crates is upset with how they’re being treated. He is Frank Ferguson and he demands everything is inspected upon delivery.

Abbott and Costello go to the house of horrors to deliver the boxes and prove they aren’t damaged, but while this happens, Costello finds out that both Dracula, who is played by Bela Lugosi, and Frankenstein’s monster, who is played by Glenn Strange, are both very much alive and escape. The problem is that every time he sees them, Abbott is not around. When Ferguson shows up, both Lugosi and Strange are gone. He blames Abbott and Costello and they are taken to jail.

Lugosi then meets up with Aubert, who we realize wants to take Costello’s brain and put it inside the monster to make him completely obedient. Chaney arrives the day after to help them put a stop to Lugosi. He has to be locked in his room that night though, as he becomes the Wolf Man. Costello believes what Chaney is saying, but Abbott still doesn’t.

The following morning Aubert comes back to tell Costello the plans. There is another knock at the door and it is Randolph. She kisses Costello and wants to be his date to the ball. She is using him, thinking that he will lead them to crates. Abbott is upset that he doesn’t have a date and that Costello has two.

The three of them go to the island with the castle that Lugosi brought the monster to. There Randolph meets Charles Bradstreet, who is the professor helping Aubert. Randolph and Bradstreet take a liking to each other. While everyone is away, Abbott and Costello start to search the castle. Costello finds Strange and Lugosi in a hidden room. Upstairs, Randolph finds the hidden journal of Frankenstein and knows there is something up. Aubert finds her looking at it as well.

Before they leave, Lugosi goes to see them off, pretending to be a doctor. Aubert tries to stay back, but Lugosi ends up using his power of persuasion and biting her neck.

Can they stop Lugosi before he realizes his horrible plans? Can Chaney keep it together and help them before the full moon turns him into the terrible monster he is? Will anyone believe Costello?

This film is interesting in that, it is a comedy. Costello is hilarious to me and he plays very well off of Abbott, which was their bit and I can see why it was successful. On top of that though, it does carry a good storyline that was popular in the 1940s horror. What I really like about it is that this one actually has subplots that many of the films in the past lacked. I like how all of the different characters’ stories intertwine. The concept of putting a different brain in the Frankenstein Monster is one that I find interesting and I believe this is the first film to attempt this concept. An issue with this film is that is wraps-up quite abruptly though. I do feel it is pretty satisfying. This does violate some of the mythos of the vampire as he appears in a mirror. I also didn’t like that the Wolf Man doesn’t act like he should, because he can’t kill a certain character though.

The acting is really solid as well. As I’ve said, I’m a fan of the Abbott and Costello films. I love how they play off each other. Lugosi is good as the villain and just continues on the mythos of Dracula. Chaney is probably my favorite actor from this era. He doesn’t get a lot of screen time and we don’t get much from his as Talbot, but we see a lot of him as the Wolf Man. Strange doesn’t get a lot of screen time either, but he was a good monster. Both Aubert and Randolph are good to look at, but they are kind of horrible people trying to use Costello. I thought they did a good job in their roles.

The effects of the film were all practical except for the changing of Lugosi into a bat. It doesn’t look great, but I have a soft spot for it. The flying of the bat looked better in this film. The changing into the Wolf Man looked good the time we get to see it. The editing of the film was good. It builds tension while also mixing in the comedy of this film. The climax was solid. The score of the film really didn’t stand out to me, but it also doesn’t hurt the film.

If you like the old horror films, I would give this one a viewing. This film is from the 1940s and in black and white, so keep that in mind. It does blend that style of horror very well with humor which is fun to see. There are quite a few parts that had me laughing. If you’re not into the slapstick/play on words comedy of Abbott and Costello, I would avoid this one. If both of these things sound like something you’d be interested in, I would definitely recommend it. It isn’t the best, but it is enjoyable.


My Rating: 8 out of 10