Friday, April 1, 2011

Monster Party: "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948)

Abbott and Costello also meet the Wolfman and Dracula in this amusing horror comedy.

Chick (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur (Lou Costello) are freight handlers at a delivery company. McDougal (Frank Ferguson) drops by to get his new crates for his house of horrors. They contain the bodies of Frankenstein's monster (Glenn Strange) and Dracula (Bela Lugosi). A Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) calls from London to try to stop the delivery, but Chick and Wilbur agree to take the crates to McDougal's.

Chubby Wilbur also has a beautiful girlfriend, the exotic Sandra (Lenore Aubert). Chick and Wilbur take the crates in, but the monsters come alive and escape. McDougal calls in insurance investigator Joan (Jane Randolph), who also takes a shine to Wilbur. Talbot arrives from Europe, during the full moon, and promptly turns into a werewolf.

Sandra works for Dr. Stevens (Charles Bradstreet), whose presence in this film is the weakest part of the story. As Dracula begins putting different cast members under his control, we find out Sandra is working with the undead in order to get Wilbur's brain for the Monster. A funny climax ensues, as the three monsters finally meet in Dracula's castle, as Chick and Wilbur try to escape.

Despite the goofy nature of the film, it is funnier than a ton of junk out there today. Lou Costello is a riot, and Bud Abbott proves he was the best straight man who ever lived. Lugosi is not given that much to do, but the makeup effects on all three monsters is wonderful. The late 1940's special effects are silly fun. The direction is a little standard, but the likable comedy team makes up for the film's short comings. A final "cameo appearance" is the last scene is truly classic.

Abbott and Costello made a lot of these types of films, but "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" might be the best. I highly recommend it. (* * * *) out of five stars.