Universal Classic Monsters: “Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein” (1948)

Abott & Costello

The end of an era. The final Universal Studios film to feature Count Dracula, The Wolf Man, and the Frankenstein Monster. Though this was a comedy starring the famed team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, the plot is no more absurd than “House of Dracula,” while both Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. play their signature parts straight, adding to the humor of the film. It’s so important in a horror / comedy for the monsters to remain scary.

It’s great to see Bela Lugosi return as Dracula. It’s hard to believe that he only played the count in two films as he is so identified with the role. And what of poor Lawrence Talbot? I thought he was cured of his lycanthropy in “House of Dracula?” I guess it was only temporary. Nobody plays torment like Lon Chaney Jr.. Glenn Strange may have more screentime as the Monster in this film than “House of Frankenstein” and “House of Dracula” combined. He even has a couple lines of dialogue.

Bud Abbot is caught up in a love triangle, but the monsters get in the way. Lawrence Talbot wants Abbott and Costello, who played a pair of dim witted baggage handlers, to assist him in his battle against Count Dracula. Even though Lawrence and Dracula only crossed paths briefly in “House of Dracula,” this film implied that they were sworn enemies. Actually, this may have been the first film to establish the vendetta between vampires and werewolves.

Count Dracula has arranged for the Monster to receive a new brain, which belongs to Bud Abbot. If only Fritz the hunchback hadn’t stolen the criminal brain seventeen years earlier. All the characters gather in a laboratory and all hell breaks loose. Dracula and the Wolf Man fall to their demise and the Monster gets burned on the docks. Abbott and Costello flee, then in a nice cameo, we hear yet another master of horror, Vincent Price voicing the Invisible Man.

Abbott and Costello would also meet Dr. Jekyll, played by Boris Karloff, and a mummy in the follow up films. Meanwhile, Universal Studios added one more classic monster to their stable in the 1950s, the Gill Man from “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” in 1954. Luckily, all the classic monsters were not done for. They were merely dormant, waiting to be resurrected by Hammer Films.

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About domcappelloblog

New York based screenwriter.

Posted on July 13, 2013, in Horror, Universal Classic Monsters and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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