Film Review - Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Starring - Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Glenn Strange | Directed by Charles T. Barton | Universal DVD FF Not Rated 83min 1948

Review By Xmortis

This was the swan song of Frankenstein's Monster with its eighth appearance. It also marks the end of the Wolfman and Dracula from the Universal series.

Chick and Wilder work for a delivery service and have a delivery for a House of Horror attraction. Larry Talbot calls the two fools with a warning not to deliver the crates but turns into The Wolfman before he can warn them. The crates have the bodies of Count Dracula and The Frankenstein Monster both waiting to be restored to full power. When they deliver the crates to the House of Horrors, Dracula and The Monster come to life, scare Wilder and head off into the darkness. The owner of the attraction calls the cops on Chick and Wilder, as Dracula and The Monster head to a castle where Dr. Sandra Mornay awaits. She also is Wilder's girl, but she's only dating him to steal his brain to put into The Monster. She really works for Count Dracula, and together they want to rule the world. Larry Talbot visits Chick and Wilber and fills them in on Dracula's plan of bringing The Monster back to its full power. That night there's a ball, and Chick has two dates, Sandra and Joan (a woman who works for the insurance company). Larry recognizes Dracula, and when Joan goes missing Wilber, Chick and Larry go looking for her. Larry turns into The Wolfman and attacks the House of Horror's owner. Chick and Wilber are blamed. The pair of knuckleheads end up at the castle and with the help of Larry Talbot they hope to stop the evil plan of the brain transplant. In the end Dracula and The Wolfman destroy themselves in a fight on a cliff. The Monster kills Sandra, Joan gets away and The Monster once more goes up in flames as Wilber and Chick get a visit from The Invisible Man.

This is a great comedy film that showcases the comedic genius of Bud Abbott (Chick) and Lou Costello (Wilber) and proves why they are one of comedy's top duos. The plot has two brainless deliverymen being sucked into Count Dracula's plot to give The Monster a new brain and to take over the world, but neither group counted on The Wolfman crashing the party. Glenn Strange plays The Monster for his final time, and while it's a good performance, he is played way more for comedy than horror like he had been in past films. Bela Lugosi plays Dracula for the second and final time as well and steps back into the role like and old glove. He is perfect once more as The Count. Lon Chaney Jr. once more plays Larry Talbot or The Wolfman and does a fantastic job of playing a hero when human and a fiend when monster. I should also note that Vincent Price does the voice for The Invisible Man, and while it's only a small cameo, it still is very iconic. Now let's get down to the goods and bad of this film. The good is that the film does hold some of the Universal Monster charm with the use of old sets and shadows. It's also amazing that all the old actors returned to play the parts that made them household names, with Lugosi returning as Dracula being the most exciting casting. While I would have loved to see Boris Karloff as The Monster again, I was fine with seeing Glenn Strange play the role for the third time. Plus the comedy of Abbott and Costello works well for a horror comedy setting. Now for the Bad. While there aren't many bad things, the major one that bothers me is the fact that the Monsters are treated as jokes and every bit of scary is zapped out of them. They fumble around for nothing more than sight gags. Plus the film brings the Monsters in with little explanation. At the end of House of Dracula the Wolfman is cured and The Monster and Dracula are both dead, but this film wipes that film's history away. I also wasn't thrilled that The Monster once more talks. Again when he speaks it's only to say "Yes, Master," but it just doesn't feel right. That said, this is a must see and a must own for classic horror and comedy fans.

This Universal DVD is packed with some great extras that include film historian's commentary, original trailer, a making of feature, production photos and notes. Plus the cover is very nice and a little retro, and the film's print is nice and crisp.

While this is a great comedy classic and I do love it, I'm still bummed that it was the final film for the big three Universal Monsters and the fact that they are treated as goofballs. But it's still worth a buy for your collection.

This review marks the end of my look at Universal's Frankenstein collection. While some sequels were not as good as others, it still remains a solid series that holds up to this day. It makes me wonder whatever happened to Universal's Horror branch. It seems very much closed these days. It's a shame because I think they could still make some amazing films given the right writers and directors. Thanks for reading my look at this franchise. I hope you join me when I tackle the Hammer Horror Frankenstein films soon!