AWESOME-tober-fest 2009: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
Yesterday, I watched the first three Boris Karloff Frankenstein movies, the last one being Son of Frankenstein in 1939. Today, I’m going to jump ahead almost 10 years to talk about my next movie, 1948’s Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein.
This movie was a horror comedy (Horr-edy?!) staring the comedy team of Abbott & Costello. It is notable because it features three of the Universal monsters, two of which are played by their original actor. Lon Chaney reprises his role of The Wolf Man and Bela Lugosi returns as Dracula (this is the only time Lugosi played Dracula apart from the original 1931 classic). Karloff, however, had stopped playing “The Monster” after Son of Frankenstein in 1939, so Glenn Strange played the titular monster in this movie (as he had for The Ghost of Frankenstein a few years earlier). Karloff would actually appear with Abbott and Costello in another movie, Abbot and Costello Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff, one year later. This movie is considered the “swan song” of the original Universal Monsters as the popularity of the Universal Horror movies had waned towards the end of the ’40s. As a matter of fact, Bud Abbott did not even want to do the movie, but Universal offered him so much money he couldn’t turn it down. Also, Universal was set to cast another actor as Dracula because it believed that Bela Lugosi had died! However, Lugosi’s agent had informed Universal otherwise (his movie career was almost non-existent at this point) and convinced the executives that they owe Lugosi the role he originated. As for the Wolf Man, it is the only character to be portrayed by the same actor (Lon Chaney) throughout the original Universal monster movies (including this one). Despite the pedigree, this movie was a cash grab for Universal. And it kinda shows.
I can see why Abbott didn’t want to do the movie. It’s dumb. Apart from the novelty of having the original Universal Monsters all together, this movie is silly and hard to watch (even boring at times). Having Dracula try to reanimate The Monster and being opposed by Abbot, Costello and Larry Talbot (The Wolf Man) is a good idea on paper, but the execution is lacking. I’ve watched this movie twice and I barely made it through each time. The idea is definitely better than the result. Abbott and Costello are funny, but I prefer the Universal Monsters in a horror setting where they are taken seriously, not in this comedy setting where they seem more ludicrous and out of place than scary.
Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.