Saturday, June 15, 2013

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

If you're a fan of horror movies, you might enjoy watching "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein," a delightful spoof of the horror genre that premiered 65 years ago today.

Actually, that title is a bit misleading. Frankenstein was in the movie — but he wasn't the only horror movie monster. Dracula was in it. So were the Wolf Man and the Invisible Man.

The premise of the story was that Dracula (played by none other than Bela Lugosi) and a lady scientist (Lenore Aubert) needed a simple brain for Frankenstein. They found such a brain in the luckless Lou Costello, and the lady scientist (played by, as I say, the little–known Aubert, a Slavic actress who appeared in relatively few American films but was at her slinky best in this one, at least based on her movies that I have seen) sought to lure him into her lab.

Around this time, the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr.) popped in to warn Abbott and Costello of Dracula's intentions, and Costello had no trouble believing him. He had been witnessing many strange goings–on (aside from Aubert's behavior), but, typically, he couldn't persuade the skeptical Bud Abbott — at least until near the end of the movie, when the two of them were being chased by all three of the horror movie icons.

I'm really not trying to give anything away here, but the bottom line is the monsters in Dracula's castle all end up dead in one way or another, and Abbott and Costello make their escape in a boat.

Abbott and Costello made a series of movies that paired them with classic horror movie characters, but this was the first.

Perhaps it was the best. I'm not really qualified to make that judgment. I haven't seen the others. I've heard of them, but I haven't seen them.

Actually, I hadn't seen this one, either, until last December when Turner Classic Movies showed it around New Year's Eve. I watched it at that time, not really knowing what to expect. I knew of Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr., of course; I saw the original "Dracula" many years ago as well as the original "Frankenstein."

But I wasn't prepared for the ending.

If you're one of those people who prefer to be surprised by the ending of a movie, I advise you stop reading NOW.

But, if you don't mind a "spoiler" — of sorts — read on.

When Abbott and Costello have escaped Dracula's castle, Costello scolds Abbott for not believing him. Abbott replies that, because all the monsters were dead, they had nothing more to fear.

At that point, they hear a ghostly voice, accompanied only by an unlit cigarette floating in the air.

The voice (which belongs to an uncredited — and, therefore, unexpected — appearance by Vincent Price) says, "Allow me to introduce myself. I am the Invisible Man."

Abbott and Costello are so scared they jump out of the boat and swim toward shore while the Invisible Man lights the cigarette and cackles.