Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolf Man!

Comedy meets horror when Bud Abbott and Lou Costello encounter Universal's classic monsters in the frightfully funny ‘ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN.’ The world of baggage handlers Chick Young [Budd Abbott] and Wilbur Grey [Lou Costello] is turned upside down when they receive the remains of Dracula [Bela Lugosi] and Frankenstein [Glenn Strange] bound for the House of Horrors museum. When Dracula and Frankenstein escape, complete chaos ensues as Chick and Wilbur get mixed up in an evil plot to switch Wilbur's brain with Frankenstein's and are aided by Larry Talbot [Lon Chaney, Jr.], who turns into The Wolf Man when the moon is full! Featuring a perfect blend of laughs and thrills. ‘ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN’ is one of  the “all-time great horror comedies.” (Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide)

FILM FACT: The film was originally titled ‘The Brain of Frankenstein,’ but the title was changed during filming to appear less likely as a straight horror film and capitalize on Bud Abbott and Lou Costello's marquee value. In a 1996 documentary, ‘100 Years of Horror’ that was hosted by Christopher Lee, Bela G. Lugosi, Jr. states that the studio hired additional comedians to add laughs between takes on the set. This is incorrect; one comedian, Bobby Barber, sufficed. Lou Costello hated the script and said that his five-year-old daughter could have written something better, but later warmed to the film during production. During filming, Glenn Strange found Lou Costello so funny he would often break up laughing, necessitating many retakes, this is readily apparent in the scene where Lou Costello sits on the Monster's lap. There were several pie fights and other horseplay between takes as well, but Budd Abbott and Lou Costello respected the three monsters and made sure no pies  hit the heavily made-up actors.

Cast: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Glenn Strange, Lenore Aubert, Jane Randolph, Frank Ferguson, Charles Bradstreet, Bobby Barber (uncredited), George Barton (uncredited), Harry Brown (uncredited), Charles Irwin (archive footage) (uncredited), Joe Kirk (uncredited), Howard Negley (uncredited), Carl Sklover (uncredited), Helen Spring (uncredited), Paul Stader (uncredited), Clarence Straight (uncredited),Joe Walls (uncredited) and Vincent Price (The Invisible Man’s voice) (uncredited)

Director: Charles T. Barton

Producer: Robert Arthur

Screenplay: Frederic I. Rinaldo (original screenplay), John Grant (original screenplay), Robert Lees (original screenplay), Mary Shelley (characters) (uncredited) and Bram Stoker (characters) (uncredited) 

Composer: Frank Skinner

Cinematography: Charles Van Enger (Director of Photography)

Image Resolution: 1080p (Black-and-White)

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Audio: English: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio
English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French

Running Time: 82 minutes

Region: All Regions

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Universal Pictures

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN’ [1948] brings us Bud Abbott and Lou Costello's horror vehicles for Universal Pictures, the inimitable comic duo star as railway baggage handlers in northern Florida. When a pair of crates belonging to a house of horrors museum is mishandled by Wilbur Grey [Lou Costello], the House of Horrors museum's director, Mr. MacDougal [Frank Ferguson], demands that they deliver them personally so that they can be inspected for insurance purposes, but Wilbur Grey's friend Chick Young [Budd Abbott] has grave suspicions about the pair of crates.

Dracula has a fiendish plan to reanimate Frankenstein and thus rule the world. In the meantime Frankenstein’s evil cohort Dr. Sandra Mornay [Lenore Aubert], lures Wilbur Grey to their castle so she can implant the brain in Frankenstein [Glenn Strange] to create a more trainable and obedient creature. The Wolf Man [Lon Chaney Jr.] tries to stop Dracula but not before Wilbur Grey and Chick Young's hijinks almost lead them into real trouble.

Shot in black and white, without the slick special effects and the fast pace of more recent horror-comedy films, this Abbott and Costello classic may not please everyone. Still, many will have fun watching the actors who first created the archetypal screen roles of Dracula, the Werewolf, and Frankenstein. The film was the last serious role for each of the great actors, and the best of the Abbott and Costello Meet the Monsters series. The vaudeville gags that launched Budd Abbott and Lou Costello into the limelight don't always weather well, but some of the routines adapted for ‘ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN’ are still very funny.

‘ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN’ is as wonderful as it is, because it looks like an old Universal Pictures horror film from the cinematography to the makeup and it has Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., and Glenn Strange dramatically playing their respective monsters. Bela Lugosi particularly seems to have fun hamming it up a bit and he is almost playing a caricature of himself.

But what I really love about ‘ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN’ is the comedy duo Abbott and Costello. Budd Abbott usually plays the straight man to Lou Costello antics, but their as solid a comedy team now as they were then. Some of their bits, admittedly, go on a bit too long, some gags are rather sexist for a 21st century audience, and there are only so many times in one film I want to hear Lou Costello yell out the name of Budd Abbott’s character.

But despite these slightly negative thoughts about Budd Abbott and Lou Costello characters in this film, I still found the film whole film of this is glorious fun. It’s great for adults and children alike. This was the last time Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., or Glenn Strange would portray their monsters, and this is, oddly enough, an appropriate swan song for them and the monsters overall. ‘ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN’ is simply a perfect, laugh-filled way to spend a winters evening curled up on the couch and having a good laugh as a bonus.

Blu-ray Image Quality – Universal Pictures presents us with a wonderful black and white 1080p encoded image, and is enhanced when viewed in the 1.37:1 aspect ratio. You get to view a rich blacks, as well as good shadows and contrast, and there's a pleasing variety of grey contrasts, plus good whites. We also get good details of textures of the castle walls and the fine hairs, like those seen of the Wolfman's make-up, so giving us an excellent natural film grain can be seen and the image looks free from artefacts. So all in all, Universal Pictures have done an excellent image presentation.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – Universal Pictures brings us one standard 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio experience. The dialogue sounds clear, including Wilbur Grey [Lou Costello] and his high-pitched calls for help. The composed film music score by Frank Skinner and the sound effects reveal quite a decent dynamic audio experience, especially with the high notes blasted by the brass instruments and the electrical whine of the laboratory equipment, but we also experience an adequate low end from the bass violins and drums instruments as well as things that crash and smash. Overall, the audio experience sounded very clean and not at all marred by age or wear and tear for a film released in 1948.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Special Feature: Abbott and Costello Meet the Monsters! [2000] [480i] [1.37:1] [33:18] Universal Studios Home Video presents us with this special feature that is hosted by historian David J. Skal, author of "Hollywood Gothic," and offers an enjoyable overview of the comedy duo's interaction with various Universal horror stars. The documentary talks about the original screenplay, the fact that the stars hated it and of course we get stories about how Bela Lugosi wasn't the original selection to play Dracula. We get to hear all sorts of fun behind-the-scenes information, but we also get some nice outtakes from the film. The later "Meet" films franchises are also discussed but there is not as much detail on them as we would have liked, but we do get lots of old clips of the famous Universal Pictures horror franchise and lots of rare outtakes from the film. So all in, it is quite a nice and interesting documentary, so enjoy. Contributors include: David J. Skal [Host], Ron Palumbo [Co-Author of “Abbott and Costello in Hollywood”], Chris Costello [Daughter of Lou Costello], Bob Burns [Collector / Archivist], Bob Madison [Film Historian] and Bela G. Lugosi [Son of Bela Lugosi].

Theatrical Trailer [1948] [480i] [1.37:1] [1:40] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for the film ‘ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN.’ Sadly, the image quality of this trailer is very poor, but you get a good laugh out of the announcer’s cheesy comments about the film.

Audio Commentary with Film Historian Gregory W. Mank: Here Gregory W. Mank starts off by saying that Lon Chaney Jr. once said, “I used to enjoy Horror films, with a lot of sympathy involved, then they became comedies, Abbott and Costello ruined Horror films, and they made buffoons out of the monster.” Gregory W. Mank then carries on by saying that out of respect to Mr. Lon Chaney Jr. that he totally disagrees with that negative comment. Gregory W. Mank also comments that it is a total pleasure to be doing this audio commentary for this beloved film, that has many distinctions, especially as the film was a big money making success, especially in 1948 and was a massive box office success story for the Universal Studios, because it was the most popular Abbott and Costello film of all time, and also a classic homage and final curtain for the famous Universal monsters of 1930s to the 1940s, and they made way for the Atomic age with giant bugs and aliens. This Abbott and Costello film has been said to be like “Real American Folklore,” which seems truer as the years pass us bye, and another description of this film is that it is like “Transylvanian Burlesque.” Gregory W. Mank also informs us that the animated cartoon at the start of the film is uncredited to Walter Lantz who did all the Woody Woodpecker animated cartoons. With the Universal Studios stock footage of the foggy London scene, we first see Lon Chaney Jr. in his hotel room, who constantly played the same character of The Wolf Man throughout his career, and felt his character was his 100% and the hotel room scene where Lon Chaney Jr. transforms into The Wolf Man took three days to shoot and each session took from 3:00pm to 5:00pm and he had to sit in the chair totally motionless while the makeup was applied in stages and it took a terrible toll on Lon Chaney Jr., because it was a very exhausting experience. Lou Costello would only commit to the film if certain people were in the film and they were all glad in the end that they made the film. All the actors who played the monsters were really nice and civilised, but Abbot and Costello were the real monsters to work with. We find out that Abbott and Costello did not want to make this film, as mentioned above in my FILM FACT section. With the actress Lenore Aubert and at the start of her acting career sold War Bonds and a man offered to buy $1,000 if she would kiss him on his cheek, which she obliged, but with Samuel Goldwyn he wanted more than a kiss, in fact he wanted her to be his mistress, but she refused him point blank, especially as the actress was of the Catholic religion, so Samuel Goldwyn told her that she would never be a star in his studio system or anyone else, so Samuel Goldwyn tried to blackballed her, but eventually sol the actress to RKO. When we see Lou Costello running through the wood, while being chased by the flying vampire bat, well the rigging cost $150.00. When the film had a Premiere, especially in New York City and in the cinema they had no air condition and the critics were very angry, so they gave the film a totally negative review, but instead, the film went onto be a massive box office hit and made $3.2, 000,000 in 1948. When you see Frankenstein throwing the stunt woman through the window, it was Lon Chaney Jr. in makeup because Glenn Strange had injured his ankle in a previous scene and Gregory W. Mank points out how Frankenstein aka Lon Chaney Jr. walked differently and was very happy to stand in for the injured Glenn Strange. Universal Studios was very keen to have Boris Karloff to promote the Abbott and Costello film and also were very happy to pay for his hotel accommodation in New York City to pose for some publicity photographs, but Boris Karloff said, “Alright, as long as I don’t have to see the movie,” and Gregory W. Mank says, “too bad, as I am sure he would of enjoyed the movie,” and so ends this audio commentary and it was quite an enjoyable experience and is also a very informative one, so please give it a listen.   

Special Feature: 100 Years of Universal: The Lot [2012] [1080p] [1.78:1 / 1.37:1] [9:25] With this special feature documentary, it mainly concentrates on Universal Pictures iconic backlot. For over 100 years, Universal Pictures has been entertaining audiences all around the world with some of the most unforgettable films ever made. Universal Pictures has been home to the world's most recognisable stars and some of the most memorable roles by all-star talent and very talented directors as well, that are featured in this special feature documentary. Contributors include: Steven Spielberg [Director], Michael Mann [Writer/Director], Paul Rudd [Actor], Peyton Reed [Director], Carl Laemmle [Founder] (archive footage), Jeff Pirtle [Director of Archival & Collections at NBCUNIVERSAL], Ivan Reitman [Procucer/Director], Peter Berg [Director/Producer], Dan Aykroyd [Actor], Molly Orr [Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour Guide], John Landis [Director], Ron Howard [Director], John Carpenter [Director], Phil Alden Robinson [Writer/Director] and Meryl Streep [Actress].

Special Feature: 100 Years of Universal: Unforgettable Characters [2011] [1080p] [1.78:1 / 1.37:1] [8:18] Revisits Universal Pictures most memorable heroes, villains, comedians and screen legends. We also get lots of clips from the very iconic Universal Pictures films we have viewed over the years and even more so with their films that have been released on DVD, Blu-ray and now 4K and the clips we get to view are: ‘Dracula’ [1931]; ‘Frankenstein’ [1931]; ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ [1935]; ‘The Mummy’ [1932]; ‘The Wolf Man’ [1941]; ‘Creature From The Black Lagoon’ [1954]; ‘The Invisible Man’ [1933]; ‘JAWS’ [1975]; ‘Jurassic Park’ [1993]; ‘The Mummy’ [1932]; ‘King Kong’ [2005]; ‘Psycho’ [1960]; ‘Double Indemnity’ [1944]; ‘Scarface’ [1983]; ‘Spartacus’ [1960]; ‘Jason Bourne’ [0000]; ‘The Big Lebowski’ [1998]; ‘Fast Times At Ridgemont High’ [1982]; ‘National Lampoon’s Animal House’ [1978]; ‘Sixteen Candles’ [1984]; ‘The Blues Brothers’ [1980]; ‘Back To The Future’ [1985] and ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ [1982]. This special feature documentary is a joy to watch and brings back so many fond memories of the Universal Pictures films I have viewed and especially the ones I have in my Blu-ray Collection.

Special Feature: My Scenes: Bookmark: Press the Green button on your remote control to add bookmark to your timeline and your favourite scenes in the film. When not needed anymore, you click on DELETE BOOKMARKS to erase what you have saved.  

Finally, ‘ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN’ is a great deal of fun, especially for a film released in 1948, and as usual Budd Costello are typically panicked type of personality and Lou Abbott is also typically none perturbed type of personality and the film plays it perfectly into a typical lunatic scenario with Abbott and Costello involved with a trio of classic Universal monsters that includes Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolf Man who go about wreaking all sorts of havoc throughout the film. The film is brisk, bright and very breezy at times and it contains several laugh out loud sequences that are among the best things that Bud Abbott and Lou Costello ever committed to celluloid. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado 
Le Cinema Paradiso 
United Kingdom

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