I love Abbott and Costello. When I was a kid, their movies played late on Saturday nights on a local syndicated channel. It was always a double feature, from midnight to four, and my brother and I rarely missed them– we’d be sleepy during church the next morning, but we were young and survived.
We watched first, of course, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Immediately after her, ahem, double features it was Bud and Lou time. It was during these late night movies I discovered Who Done It?, my favorite of their films. These way-too-late shows are, also, where I first watched the comedy team’s run-ins with the greatest monsters of all time. In fact, Abbott and Costello may have been my introduction to the Universal Monsters.
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein is the first of the duo’s “monster” movies, and it’s one of their better creature features. For those of us who like horror, we like to laugh, too. As bonus, these (along with all the Universal Classics) are great for family night.
Chick and Wilbur (Bud and Lou, respectively) work as baggage clerks at a depot. As with all things involving Abbott and Costello, the job is full of mishaps. Upon receipt of a shipment of crates for McDougal’s House Of Horrors, Wilbur’s girlfriend, Sandra, happens to speak with McDougal himself. He has come into possession of Dracula’s corpse and the lifeless body of Frankenstein’s monster. He’s thrilled because his House of Horrors will make money hand over fist.
Sandra is quite interested in the Count and the monster. Also interested is Larry Talbot. Yep, that Larry Talbot. He makes an urgent phone call to the depot. As he tries to warn Chick and Wilbur of potential danger, he transforms into the Wolf Man (told you it was that Larry Talbot). Wilbur is offended and bemused as to why someone would call and then put their dog on the phone.
The clerks deliver the crates to McDougal’s wax museum. It’s up to them to unpack everything and that’s when Wilbur finds Dracula actually in his coffin (quite lively for the undead) and the Frankenstein monster. The immortal vampire reanimates the monster and they escape. None of this is by accident. Dracula and the monster are aided, and abetted, by Sandra. She is a scientist who has selected Wilbur’s brain as a perfect replacement for the monster’s.
Once Larry Talbot is Larry Talbot, again, he tracks down Chick and Wilbur. Along with Joan Raymond, an undercover insurance investigator working to find McDougal’s lost property, Larry convinces them to help him find and destroy Count Dracula and the Frankenstein monster. Of course him being a wolf man does throw a wrench into their best laid plans.
Abbott and Costello are funny, no matter how you cut it. Most of their movies are classics, if not the stuff of legend. They did have their misfires, mainly in the latter part of their career, in the fifties– this 1948 film was right before they started the decline. But when the boys were firing on all cylinders, as they are here, one cannot help but be entertained.
Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein is the comedy team doing what they do best. The same goes for Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney, Jr., too.