Saturday, October 27, 2007

31 Days of Halloween - Day 27 - Movie 1

I've always been one to mix humor and horror in my work, and it's probabaly because I saw "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948) at a young age. With the decline in quality, revenue and interest of Universal's horror franchise in the 1940s, there was only one thing to do--play them for laughs. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello play delivery men who get themselves mixed up with crates containing the real Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and real Frankenstein monster (Glenn Strange), not to mention poor Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) still cursed with turning into the Wolfman while trying to stop Dracula from reviving the monster. There's also subplots involving a dispute witha wax museum owner, an insurance investigation, and a scheme to place Costello's simple, more obedient, brain in the Frankenstein's monster so he'll be easier to control. Oh, and Vincent Price makes an unbilled cameo as a fourth monster.

The horror aspects of this movie are played completely straight, which makes it succeed. Unlike Universal's straight attempts to combine batches of their monsters in one movie, this one works. Not only that, but the monsters do all end up on the screen together in a pretty comedic battle sequence which includes Abbott and Costello constantly trying to avoid one monster or another, as they are stalked by the Frankenstein monster and Dracula and the Wolfman battle it out with a chair. Initially, my daughter asked why Abbott and Costello were considered comedians, which amused and horrified me at the same time, then later reported that the movie was hilarious. My son found the comedy funny, but also hid during moments of Costello being unaware that the Wolfman was doing his best to pounce upon him. Granted, the shot of Costello writing Lawrence Talbot a note, while the Wolfman emerges from the bathroom in the background does show just how frightening Jack Pierce's Wolfman makeup was. Lugosi also does demonstrate a sense of humor and ability to handle comedy, making me wish that his own desire to do more comedy had been realized. There's also a terrific score and nifty animated opening titles, which I wish had been expanded into their own movie.

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