On its 100th anniversary, Universal Pictures is rereleasing several gems from its vaults, and one of these is an inspired teaming of the studio's classic monster crew with the baggy-pants burlesque veterans Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein,” now available on DVD, is the first and best of several slapstick monster movies featuring the comics and the creepers.
The 1948 comedy deftly combines two lucrative franchises — Bud and Lou's bumbling buddy routine, featuring Costello's stammering, stumbling, scaredy-cat persona, and the stable of Universal monsters featuring the lumbering title goon (Glenn Strange), bloodthirsty Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi), the howling Wolfman (Lon Chaney Jr.) and even a brief appearance by the Invisible Man (Vincent Price).
Abbott and Costello appear as inept railroad baggage clerks who are assigned to deliver two large crates to MacDougal's House of Horrors. Inside are the Frankenstein monster and Count Dracula. When the two creatures escape, Bud and Lou give chase. To complicate matters, Lou's girlfriend (Lenore Aubert) is really a mad scientist who schemes to implant her boyfriend's simpleton brain into the Frankenstein monster. Naturally, as the saying goes, chaos ensues.
Most critics agree that this is, indeed, the best of the “Abbott and Costello Meet …” movies. Several others followed, including 1949's “Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff,” 1951's “Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man,” 1953's “Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and 1955's “Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy.” And if you want to stretch the franchise to the breaking point, you might also include 1952's “Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd” and 1955's “Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops.”
“Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” is not rated and runs 83 minutes. It's released by Universal Home Video.
Dennis King blogs about movies at blog.newsok.com/projections.