As a kid, I loved the Abbott and Costello Meet... movies. My favorite was always Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. As I've gotten older, I have continued to love this film. It is a unique blend of comedy and horror. The premise is an interesting one. Chick Young (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (Lou Costello) are baggage clerks at railroad station in Florida. Wilbur receives a call from a Mr. McDougal who owns "McDougal's House of Horrors." He is calling to warn the clerk about a dangerous shipment containing Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and Frankenstein's Monster (Glenn Strange). However, it isn't Mr. McDougal, it is actually Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) aka The Wolf man calling from London. During the phone call, Talbot turns into the wolf man because there is a full moon. Wilbur hangs up, thinking it is a crank call.
|Part of the opening sequence.|
Shortly after Talbot's call, the real McDougal (Frank Ferguson) arrives to claim his exhibits for his wax museum. Apparently, he was the lucky winner chosen to display these unusual exhibits. He demands that Chick and Wilbur deliver his prize exhibits immediately and safely. During this opening sequence, Wilbur's beautiful girlfriend Sondra Mornay (Leonore Aubert) is introduced. Strangely, she seems to know who McDougal is. It is decided that McDougal and an insurance agent will meet Chick and Wilbur at "McDougal's House of Horrors" to inspect the crates containing Count Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster.
|Opening credits cartoon|
The delivery does not go smoothly. Wilbur can't seem to convince Chick that Count Dracula is alive. Dracula is able to escape with Frankenstein's Monster while Chick is elsewhere in the wax museum. Obviously, McDougal is furious that his prize exhibits are missing. Chick has no explanation and Wilbur's story seems ridiculous. How could Dracula arise from his coffin and take the monster with him?
|Dracula awakens Frankenstein's Monster|
Dracula has a destination and plan for Frankenstein's Monster. Dracula arrives at the castle/laboratory of Dr. Sondra Mornay. Apparently, Sondra has been posing as Wilbur's girlfriend so that she can lure Wilbur to her private island. Once Wilbur is there, Sondra will transplant his brain into Frankenstein's Monster. Since Wilbur is viewed by Sondra as simple, Dracula will be able to control the monster if it has Wilbur's brain.
|Dracula brings the monster to Sondra|
Meanwhile, Larry Talbot has arrived in Florida and found Chick and Wilbur. Talbot confirms Wilbur's belief that Dracula is alive (so to speak) and up to no good. Larry hopes to stop Dracula's plan. Unfortunately, as the wolf man, Larry's abilities to do this are limited. He tries to tell Chick and Wilbur of his curse, but neither seem to believe him. In the meantime, another beautiful woman seems to be interested in Wilbur. Joan Raymond (Jane Randolph) tells Wilbur she would love to go to the masquerade ball with him. He agrees even though he has already promised to take Sondra. Chick is hoping Wilbur will share one of his dates with him. However, Wilbur seems to be enjoying the center of attention so he makes no promises.
Wilbur, Chick, and Joan go to Sondra's island to pick her up and take her to the masquerade ball. Sondra is irritated that Wilbur has brought others with him, he was supposed to come alone. Sondra invites Joan to her room so the two can get ready for the ball. Joan snoops around Sondra's room and finds the journals of Dr. Frankenstein. Sondra sees Joan going through her things and returns the favor. She searches Joan's purse and finds that Joan is an insurance investigator. Meanwhile, Sondra's assistant Professor Stevens (Charles Bradstreet) seems suspicious of Sondra's work. In addition, Stevens is attracted to Joan and vice versa.
|Joan is ready for the masquerade party.|
While the girls are getting ready for the party, Wilbur answers the phone. The caller asks for Dr. Leighos. The caller is Larry Talbot who warns Wilbur that Leighos is Dracula. Chick and Wilbur decide to search around the castle. Wilbur, once again, happens upon Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster multiple times. However, every time he tries to find Chick and show him, the two monsters exist, Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster disappear.
|Wilbur stumbles across Frankenstein's monster.|
|Sondra becomes Dracula's slave.|
|Larry becomes the wolf man.|
I was lucky enough to see this film on the big screen at Loews in Jersey City during Halloween weekend of 2011. I was amazed at the power of Lou Costello to make people laugh so easily. His sight gags and ability to mimic his co-stars remain timeless. Often, comedy can seem dated. However, Lou's regular guy put in an irregular situation still makes for great comedic moments.
I also absolutely love the cartoon opening. It tells us that yes this is a horror film, but it is also a comedy. This film walks the fine line between horror and comedy very well in my opinion. Bud and Lou know how to play it for laughs while Aubert, Chaney, and Lugosi play it straight. It is a good way to introduce younger children to monsters because Bud and Lou do manage to get out of dangerous situations. Additionally, it is not bloody or filled with on screen acts of violence. This film has something for everyone making it an example of why the films of the 1940's were fabulous!