DVD Shopping Bag: ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (Mania.com)

By:Robert T. Trate
Date: Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Source: Mania.com

In case you haven’t noticed, we at Mania are just a tad excited for fall. Don’t us get wrong, the summer is our playoff season. Week after week we have new genre pics to check out and Comic Con is our Superbowl. However, one can only take so much heat and sun. The cool breeze and leaves changing mean only one thing... it’s time for fall. Pumpkins, sweatshirts, and, of course, monster movies. I’m not talking the modern fare with studios trying to up what has come before. No, I’m talking about going all the way back to where it began: at Universal Studios. Their stable is packed with beasties that any kid (grown up or not) has come to love and adore. They are the first anti-heroes and, despite some good looking guys trying to save the day, we will always root for the bad guys. 

Universal Studios is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year and has been re-releasing films to celebrate it. Many of these will feature our original favorites in the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection (see details) box set. The collection is perfect save only one thing, it isn’t every appearance of Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Lon Chaney Jr as their infamous counterparts. Thankfully, there are a few other Blu-rays and DVDs emerging that will help any completist or film aficionado enjoy their beloved anti-heroes. 

Next week, Universal Studios will release Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (Blu-ray/DVD Combo). In all my years of collecting the Universal Horror classics, I never ventured into the world of the Abbot and Costello “Meet” pictures. That also includes any of the Abbot and Costello films, not just those that feature Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man. Old Hollywood humor and schtick does very little for me. I loved the Three Stooges as a kid, but find no need today to go back and watch them again. The same can be said about the Marx Brothers. Whether it be the actors involved or the length of the films/ shorts, I would never call myself a fan of either. Yet, now, this one peeked my interest. 

Here is the story according to Universal: “Abbott and Costello, as railroad baggage clerks, receive a strange shipment - the last remains of Dracula and Frankenstein's monster. But this deadly duo is still very much alive. So when the shipment arrives at the House of Horrors, the Monsters are not in their crates but have disappeared to a secret hideaway island. Blamed for the disappearance, Abbott and Costello follow their trail to the island, where not only do they meet up with Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and the Monster (Glenn Strange), but a Mad Scientist (Charles Bradstreet) who wants to switch Costello's brain with that of the Monster. With everyone chasing each other, the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney, Jr.) shows up to scare them all”. - Universal Studios

I didn’t read this synopsis before I popped in the Blu-ray. So imagine my surprise when I learned Karloff wasn’t the creature. It made me not like it instantly. However, when the true star rose from his coffin things started to look up, well, for a while. I was shocked that not only was Lugosi billed second (behind Lon Chaney Jr.), but also that this film primarily features Frankenstein’s Monster as a plot device. Granted, the monster cannot talk much but why not then call it Abbott and Costello Meet Dracula? It seems as if Lugosi, despite not having Karloff in the film, was again to take second fiddle to the creature in title and (again) billing. 

The film is packed with what I can only assume is Abbott and Costello schtick. I found their whole interaction dull and caught myself dropping off from time to time. Thankfully, with the help of a power nap and several rewinds, I got through it. The film only truly shines when Lugosi is on screen. Here, he would make his second and last appearance as the character for which he will forever be linked to. It’s mind boggling now to think how under-appreciated Lugosi was. Yet, today, we are far removed for the studio politics and Lugosi’s personal problems. 

The marriage of two of Universal’s successful properties was indeed a step in the right direction. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was their second highest grossing picture that year. It also spun several sequels featuring the Invisible Man and another featuring Karloff (not as Frankenstein’s Monster, mind you). Whether this film is a part of the Universal Horror Cannon is up to the individual fan to decide. It was a treat to hear Lugosi say different lines as the same character and to see those eyes mesmerize yet another unsuspecting victim. If anything, it featured the original Dracula squaring off against the original Wolf Man for the first and only time. That alone made it worth the watch. 

Top 5 Picks of the Week:

1. Halloween 4 [Blu-ray] 
2. 
Halloween 5 [Blu-ray]
3. 
Santa Fe Trail [Blu-ray] 
4. 
Flintstones: The Complete First Season
5. 
Wargames [Blu-ray]

ACTION / ADVENTURE / KUNG FU/ THRILLERS / WESTERNS

Deadly Renovations Starring DJ Perry, Terence Knox, Lana Wood and Johnny Dark

Freelancers [Blu-ray] Starring 50 Cent, Forest Whitaker and Robert De Niro

Freelancers Starring 50 Cent, Forest Whitaker and Robert De Niro

Kill And Kill Again (Widescreen Remastered Edition) Starring James Ryan and Ken Gampu

Kirby Grant & Chinook Adventure Triple Feature Starring Kibry Grant

One In The Chamber [Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo] Starring Dolph Lundgren, Cuba Jr. Gooding and Louis Mandylor

One In The Chamber Starring Dolph Lundgren, Cuba Jr. Gooding and Louis Mandylor

Shuffle Starring T.J. Thyne, Tamara Taylor and Paula Rhodes

Time Again Starring Scott F. Evans, John T. Woods and Gigi Perreau

Trucker's Woman Starring Larry Drake, Mary Cannon, Doodles Weaver Michael Hawkins

ANIME

No. 6: The Complete Collection [Blu-ray]

No. 6

Shakugan no Shana: Season One Box Set (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) Starring Kristian Ayre and Tabitha St. Germain

Shangri-La: Part 1 (Limited Edition) Starring Clarine Harp, Jad Saxton and Trina Nishimura

Shangri-La: Part 2 Starring Clarine Harp, Jad Saxton and Trina Nishimura

Space Adventure Cobra: The Movie Starring Shigeru Matsuzaki, Akiko Nakamura, Goro Mutsumi

CARTOONS

The Adventures Of Tintin: Season Three Starring Colin O'Meara and David Fox

Adventure Time It Came From the Nightosphere

Adventure Time: My Two Favorite People

The Aristocats (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Special Edition in Blu-ray Packaging)

Ben 10: Season 4 Starring Graham Phillips

Flintstones: The Complete First Season

Lady and the Tramp 2: Scamps Adventure (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Special Edition in Blu-ray Packaging)

Pocahontas Two-Movie Special Edition (Pocahontas / Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World) (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging)

The Rescuers: 35th Anniversary Edition (The Rescuers / The Rescuers Down Under) (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging)

Smurfs: Season 1 - 1

The Tigger Movie: Bounce-A-Rrrific Special Edition (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging)

Tom & Jerry Tales: Season 1

CLASSICS

Captain Carey U.S.A. [Blu-ray] Starring Alan Ladd, Wanda Hendrix, Francis Lederer

The Doctor and the Girl Starring Glenn Ford, Charles Coburn, Gloria De Haven and Janet Leigh

John Paul Jones Starring Robert Stack, Charles Coburn, Macdonald Carey

My Son John [Blu-ray] Starring Helen Hayes, Robert Walker, Van Heflin and Dean Jagger

Regular Show: The Slack Pack (2012)

Santa Fe Trail [Blu-ray] Starring Ronald Reagan, Olivia de Havilland, Raymond Massey Errol Flynn

COMEDY AND LOVE Mania Style

Bernie Starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey

Bernie Starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey

The Dictator - BANNED & UNRATED Version (Two-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) Starring Sacha Baron Cohen and Megan Fox

The Dictator - BANNED & UNRATED Version Starring Sacha Baron Cohen and Megan Fox

Joysticks (Remastered Widescreen Edition) Starring Joe Don Baker, Jonathan Gries and Corinne Bohrer

Mallrats [Blu-ray]

Criterion Collection

Weekend (Criterion Collection) Starring Tom Cullen and Chris New

Weekend (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] Starring Tom Cullen and Chris New

HORROR

Attack of the Killer Backpacks Starring Gerrit Reinecke

Black Magic Rites: Remastered Edition [Blu-ray] Starring Mickey Hargitay and Rita Calderoni

Black Magic Rites Starring Mickey Hargitay and Rita Calderoni

Elevator Starring Christopher Backus, Anita Briem, John Getz

Frankenstein '80 Starring John Richardson, Gordon Mitchell, Renato Romano

Halloween 4 [Blu-ray] Starring Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell

Halloween 5 [Blu-ray] Starring Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris, Ellie Cornell

Hell SD//BD Combo Starring Stipe Erceg, Michael Kranz and Hannah Herzprung

Little Big Boy: The Death Stalker Murders Starring Kim Sønderholm, David C. Hayes and Lloyd Kaufman

Paranormal Case Files: Ghost Investigations Starring Paul Wookey, Diane Howe and Brian Allan

The Scar Crow Starring Kevyn Connett, Tim Major, Michael Walker and Darren McIlroy

Stephen King's Thinner [Blu-ray] Starring Robert John Burke, Joe Mantegna, Michael Constantine

Stephen King's Thinner Starring Robert John Burke, Joe Mantegna, Michael Constantine

Zombie A-Hole Starring Jessica Daniels, Josh Eal and Brandon Salki

MODERN CLASSICS on BLU-RAY

Barton Fink [Blu-ray]

Good Will Hunting: 15th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray] Starring Robin Williams, Stellan Skarsgard, Ben Affleck

Wargames [Blu-ray] Starring John Wood, Matthew Broderick, Barry Corbin

SCIENCE FICTION / FANTASY

Children Of The Hunt Starring Alexander Thomas, David Stevens Darren Dalton

Color Out Of Space Starring Erik Rastetter, Michael Kausch, Ingo Heise Marco Leibnitz

TV LAND

The Closer: The Complete Seventh Season Starring Kyra Sedgwick and J.K. Simmons

House, M.D.: Season Eight Starring Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard

House, M.D.: Season Eight [Blu-ray] Starring Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 1, Vol.1 Starring Richard Steven Horvitz, Amy Jo Johnson, David Yost

NCIS: The Complete Ninth Season Starring Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette

NCIS: Los Angeles - The Third Season Starring Chris O'Donnell, Daniela Ruah, Barrett Foa and Linda Hunt

Perry Mason: The Seventh Season, Vol. 1 Starring Raymond Burr, Ray Collins, William Hooper

Revenge: The Complete First Season Starring Emily VanCamp, Madeleine Stowe, Gabriel Mann

Wallander Series 3 [Blu-ray]

BOX SETS

Bloody Evil: International Collection (This Hollow Sacrament / Frankenstein's Bloody Nightmare / Ichi-1 / Evil Dead Drap 2) Starring Youko Nakagima, April Potter, Marcus Shelby

 

Robert Trate writes three weekly columns for Mania: the DVD Shopping Bag, the Toy Maniac, and The Geek Life. Follow Robert on Twitter for his for Geek ramblings, Cosplay photos and film criticisms.

 



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