Svengoolie presents … Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was released in 1948 to huge success, leading to Abbott and Costello meeting most of the other Universal monsters. Frankenstein is not alone in this one however, but is joined by Dracula and the Wolf Man. This was only the second time Bela Lugosi played Dracula and it was the last. This was also the last of the Universal Frankenstein sequels and signaled the end of the Universal monster era altogether.
Abbott and Costello man a train station baggage claim station when the movie begins. They do some good schtick and I didn’t think it’d be very funny, but as the movie continued, it was sorta amusing in spots. They take some crates to McDougal’s House of Horrors and meet Dracula, who has a scheme involving the Frankenstein monster. Boris Karloff turned down the role of Frankenstein for some reason, but did do publicity photos to help the film out, so it may be that he wanted to be involved, after all. The Monster is played by Glenn Strange, who was also the monster in House of Dracula (1945).
There is no continuity to this film or any connection with prior Universal monster movies. This is expected. The film is played for comedic effect and not much more than that. Abbott and Costello do perform some well-known “bits”, like the moving candle bit in the House of Horrors.
Even Turner Classic Movies counts this movie amongst one of the most memorable. This may be because of its impact or its style, but I’m not sure it is a masterpiece in the true sense. For one thing, the movie is hard to place in one single genre. Is it a comedy horror film? Just a comedy? A comedy drama? A comedy inspired by horror? Who knows. This isn’t so much a problem as it is an impact on the Universal monsters themselves. When you do an over-the-top gag film like this one, I have no doubt it had some effect on how people viewed the seriousness surrounding the monsters. Thankfully, the movie was a great success, so the monsters did not become the butt of the joke.