We here at Horror Bound are big fans of horror. Duh. We are also big believers that any fun loving cinephile ought to be. Some people find it hard to get past their fears and some are overwhelmed at the sheer volume of horror out there. Including indie horror, which is wonderful, dozens of genre flicks come out every month. So, where does one start?
Well, we got you covered. This recurring article will be dolling out the 100 essential flicks from horror and will give you a heaping tablespoon of the various eras and sub genres. It also just so happens that this list was created by the great minds behind the Shock Waves podcast, including Charlotte’s adoptive mother, Rebekah McKendry, so it’s basically a family list.
These are not ranked, but, rather, in alphabetical order. Today we bring you Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein!
I’m guessing no one reading this was alive when it came out in the 1940’s. I also think it’s safe to say many of you don’t know who Abbott and Costello are and if you do it’s more likely because of their cameos in Loony Tunes shorts. This movie also is very dated, cheesy and campy. So, why in the world would it be a horror essential?
Well, frankly, because it was a pivotal movie in horror history. Sure, movies like The Invisible Man, Dracula and Frankenstein did well at the box office, but hot things went cold fast in that era of Hollywood. Soon, Universal saw a major slump in the box office and had one bomb after another. They were in peril and talking of scraping their horror section.
Along come Abbott and Costello with a pitch for a horror comedy. It had never been done before, but Universal was willing to take the risk partially because of desperation and partially because Abbott and Costello were the hottest shit on earth at the time. And so was born the horror comedy and the major studios had incentive to not give up on horror.
The basic plot of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is that two characters, one a straight man, one a jumpy scaredy cat, get a job delivering crates to a museum of terrors. Everything goes fine until the model monsters they’re delivering start coming to life. In comes a who’s who of horror legends at the time and, thus, a new generation falls in love with these icons.
First, we have Bela Lugosi in his only official reprisal of the Dracula role. We have Lon Chaney Jr as the Wolf Man, looking not great, by the way, as his alcoholism and cirrhosis was in full swing by now. The second most famous actor to play Frankenstein’s monster, Glenn Strange, filled those platform shoes for most of the movie. I say most of the movie because part way through filming he broke his ankle tripping over a camera and Lon Chaney Jr took the role over. Apparently Strange caused delays in production because he kept cracking up at Abbott’s ad libs. Last but certainly not least we have Vincent Price as the Invisible Man.
With a cast of such horror icons tossed in with two comedy legends, this movie was a recipe for success and brought horror right back into the spotlight. Everyone wanted in on the game and horror had been brought back to life by a silly, campy romp. It seems every era of horror has one or two films that reinvigorate the genre and push it forward. For the 40’s and 50’s, this was that movie.
The comedy is a bit dated, but this movie is tons of fun. I took my kids to see it in the theater last year and they freaking loved it. As for you, I recommend you check it out, maybe after a nice sativa.