Even though I own ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN on Blu-Ray and DVD, I always hold out hope that it will screen somewhere in Los Angeles on the big screen. And thankfully this Halloween season, the New Beverly Cinema gave us 4 opportunities to catch it! (Next screenings are on the evenings of October 23rd & 24th paired up with BEETLEJUICE!) This time, I caught it on a kiddie matinee and it’s just as warm and wonderful as I remember it to be. I’ve discussed on the Killer POV podcast several times how my introduction into horror was the Universal Monster Movies, with the Wolfman being my favorite and earliest memory. But really, nothing can top all of them together in this one movie.
Mr. McDougal has purchased the original coffins for Dracula and the Frankenstein’s monster as star attractions for his House Of Horrors max museum, but alas, the bumbling Wilbur (Lou Costello) is accused of losing the packages in transit! In actuality, Dracula just got up and walked out of his coffin and escaped with the monster in tow. The only person that believes Wilbur is Lawrence Talbot (the great Lon Chaney, Jr) who also happens to change into the Wolfman by the full moon’s light. (“Yeah, you and twenty million other guys!”) With the help of Chick (Bud Abbott), Talbot has to stop Dracula from transferring the simple minded brain of Wilbur into the Frankenstein’s monster. Hilarity ensures, but never at the monsters expense. The monsters are treated with respect and it’s often Wilbur’s reaction to them that draws the biggest laughs.
It’s interesting to read about this movie now in retrospect as it’s often cited as the last breath of the Universal Monster movies, and yet, as my friend Frank Deitz points out in his blog, it’s probably the one Universal Monster movie that continues to have the most longevity. I also consider it the perfect gateway movie for young children that parents might want to slowly get into horror and in general the Halloween spirit.
Interestingly enough, I also got to see THE MONSTER SQUAD on the big screen, and that’s another movie that does justice to celebrating the classic monsters in style. If you’re looking for a great double bill with the kids, you can’t go wrong with ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN and THE MONSTER SQUAD.
You’ll hear about this and more on this week’s Killer POV, which also features Kevin LeHane (the writer of GRABBERS), directors Dave Parker and Mike Mendez (TALES OF HALLOWEEN) and the lovely Barbara Crampton! It’s embedded below for your convenience.