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Abbott: “You’re making enough noise to wake up the dead! “
Costello: “I don’t have to wake him up. He’s up!”
Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Glenn Strange, Lon Chaney, Jr., and Bela Lugosi in ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, 1948.
ABBOTT AND COSTEELO MEET FRANKENSTEIN Screens October 2nd at Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood
It’s interesting that Lou Costello initially was reluctant to do ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, since it became probably the most popular and successful instalment in their career. It was so popular, in fact, that many of the Abbott & Costello movies to follow were along similar lines — they would go on to meet The Mummy, The Invisible Man and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. You can sort of see where he was coming from … horror/comedy isn’t exactly a highly respected genre, although there have been several classics in it since (YOUNG FRANKESNTEIN comes to mind).
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein_03
The story starts when a couple of crates arrive in the US, to an office manned by Chick Young (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (Lou Costello). The two of them are asked to the two crates to the their destination, a house of horrors. What they don’t realize is that one crate contains Dracula’s coffin and the other, the Frankenstein monster. Dracula awakens and escapes with the monster, leaving the two freight handlers to deal with the insurance company over the missing goods. But it turns out they have bigger worries — Dracula has chosen Wilbur’s brain to transplant into the Frankenstein monster in order to revive him …
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN marked the triple swan song of Universal’s “big 3” monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein’s creature, and the Wolf Man. The producers scored a coup by casting the original and definitive Dracula, Bela Lugosi, in what was, incredibly only his second and final screen appearance as his most famous character. As The Wolf Man, Lon Chaney Jr. is wonderfully consistent as the tormented Lawrence Talbot, though perhaps in deference to the comedy trappings, his desire to die takes a back seat and he actually takes on the air of the hero, even as his monstrous alter ego. (The fact he was cured in the previous monster film, HOUSE OF DRACULA, is conveniently ignored; maybe he had a relapse). Glenn Strange meets Boris Karloff’s record by making his third appearance as the Monster. Sadly, once again he never really gets a chance to do much with the role. I always liked Strange’s portrayal of the monster. All of Karloff’s pathos was long gone by the time this film came out, but Strange gives the monster one damn creepy lumbering walk. Also, Bud Westmore had taken over Universal’s makeup department by this time, so the haunting, Jack Pierce design was well on its way into becoming the face of Herman Munster. Even so, he looks grotesque and scary.
Bud and Lou  have a hysterical routine about “the two girls last week” that goes by in a matter of seconds. Frank Skinner’s music is truly fantastic. He creates unique and effective themes for all three of the monsters and a dopey leitmotif for Lou. And look closely at the scene in which the monster hurls Aubert from a laboratory window: that’s Lon Chaney Jr. doing the hurling. Glen Strange injured his foot and was unable to do the scene, and Chaney, who had played the part of the monster before, donned the makeup, hoisted Aubert’s stunt double and pitched her out the window. A true trooper. My only regret was that Universal had their classic monsters survive fires, explosions, drowning, staking, freezing, sulphur pits, quicksand and the passage of centuries only to be finally conquered by Abbott and Costello!
There will be a full moon and more Thursday October 2nd when ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN screens at Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood at 7pm.
Doors open at 6:30pm. $6 suggested for the screening. A yummy variety of food from Schlafly’s kitchen is available as are plenty of pints of their famous home-brewed suds. A bartender will be on hand to take care of you.
“Culture Shock” is the name of a film series here in St. Louis that is the cornerstone project of a social enterprise that is an ongoing source of support for Helping Kids Together( a St. Louis based social enterprise dedicated to building cultural diversity and social awareness among young people through the arts and active living. The films featured for “Culture Shock” demonstrate an artistic representation of culture shock materialized through mixed genre and budgets spanning music, film and theater.
Through ‘A Film Series’ working relationship with Schlafly Bottleworks, they seek to provide film lovers with an offbeat mix of dinner and a movie opportunities. We hope to see everyone this Thursday night!

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