Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"Well, don't look at me like I was freakin'..."

And now we go back to the days of the classics...

Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Universal International, 1948, 82 minutes

actors: Bud Abbot, Lou Costello, Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Glenn Strange, Lenore Aubert, Jane Randolf, Vincent Price (voice)

director: Charles Barton

Taxonomy: Early horror/comedy flick.

Plot: Two railroad porters encounter Dracula, the Wolfman and Frankenstein's monster while hauling exhibits to a horror attraction in Florida.

Bluntly: Universal's best from the 30's and 40's together in one film!

Overview:

When the owner of McDougal's House of Horror learns that his highly anticipated shipment from England has arrived in his native Florida, he is overjoyed. When he meets the railroad freight handlers that are to deliver the items to his business, he is less than thrilled. The porters, Chick Young and Wilbur Grey (Bud Abbot and Lou Costello) don't care how Mr. McDougal feels, they just want to do the job and get away from the cranky customer.

Upon unpacking the two large crates, Wilbur learns that the bodies inside are not dead or props as everyone assumes, but in fact the actual live Count Dracula and Frankenstein's monster (Bela Lugosi and Glenn Strange). Drac hypnotizes Wilbur and then he and Frank make a run for it. A furious McDougal vows to talk to the police about Chick and Wilbur, who he believes have stolen his merchandise. Sure enough our boys are soon thrown in jail.

When Chick and Wilbur get back to the boarding house where they live, they meet Laurence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) who backs up Wilbur's wild story about Dracula and Frankenstein. Chick thinks they are both nuts. Larry asks Wilbur to lock him in his room for the night. Wilbur thinks it is odd, but does so - stealing an apple while he is at it.

The next morning Chick and Wilbur meet Joan Raymond (Jane Randolf). She was the woman who bailed them out of jail. The guys had thought it was Dr. Sandra Mornay (Lenore Aubert), Wilbur's squeeze, who also seems very concerned with Wilbur's head. Joan thinks Wilbur is cute and he invites her along to the masquerade ball he is attending with Sandra that evening. Chick seems incredulous that two attractive women would fall for Wilbur. Of course we know that Joan's real reason for cuddling up to Wilbur is to try and get a lead on the missing cargo for the insurance company.

When Chick and Wilbur check on Larry, they find his room wrecked and him a mess. He then confides in them that he is a werewolf. Wilbur is concerned and Chick thinks Larry is doubly nuts.

Well, our heros boat out to Sandra's castle on an isolated island. Yep, this young attractive physician lives in a castle. On an island. Off the Florida coast. Uh huh. Anyway, Chick, Wilbur and Joan meet Sandra and her guest Dr. Ligos (guess who!). While Joan is snooping in a book by Dr. Frankenstein, Sandra peeks in her purse and finds her insurance investigator license - doh! You see, Sandra is working with Dracula - oops, I mean Dr. Ligos - to try to find a submissive brain for Frankenstein's monster. That's why she is hanging on Wilbur! Why would she do such a thing? Well, Drac is blackmailing her! Seems Dr. Mornay is wanted. Just for good measure, Drac turns her into a vampire. You can't be too careful.

Once at the ball, Larry Talbot shows up and accuses Dr. Ligos of being Count Dracula. Ligos laughs this off because he is dressed as Dracula after all. Well, it's the full moon again and Larry turns into a werewolf and tries to attack Wilbur, but Wilbur runs away. Yes that's right, Lou Costello can outrun the Wolfman! Bet you didn't know that, did ya? Eventually Larry attacks McDougal, but everybody thinks it is Chick because he was wearing a wolf mask. Dracula abducts Joan as well as Wilbur, and Larry and Chick have to save them while avoiding the cops sent to arrest Chick.

It all comes to a boil at Sandra's castle where the monster rebels against Dracula and ends up throwing Sandra out a window! Larry changes into the Wolfman - twice in one night! - and goes after Drac while Chick first saves Wilbur and then the two of them try to save Joan while Frankenstein is chasing them! Finally the minor character of Dr. Stevens, Sandra's assistant, saves the day by pouring gas all over the dock Frankenstein is standing on and flamb├ęs poor old Frankie! During this scene I could not help noticing how much gas Dr. Stevens spilled on his pants. He would have gone up like a torch in real life!

Just at the end of the flick, there is a joke about The Invisible Man featuring Vincent Price's voice.

Goodies:

Babeage: While Lenore Aubert and Jane Randolf are attractive, considering the age of this flick, referring to them as babes is kind of like telling someone that their Grandma is hot.

Sleazeploitation: 1948, okay?

Beasts, Freaks and Weirdoes: Drac, Frankie, the Wolfman, The Invisible Man and of course Bud and Lou.

Violence: The only scene I would call violent is when Frankie throws Dr. Mornay out the window. No dummy was involved, that is a real stunt person getting flung through the glass. This quick scene comes as sort of an unexpected shock between the silly stuff.

There is also a scene where it appears that Lou Costello gets accidentally punched when Frankenstein's fist comes crashing through a door!

Gore & FX: Nah. The make-up is more mask like than in the original Universal monster flicks.

Great Lines:

Wilbur to McDougal: "It's going to cost you overtime. I'm a union man and I only work 16 hours a day." McDougal: "A union man works 8 hours a day!" Wilbur: "I belong to two unions!"

Chick on Sandra's attraction to Wilbur: "Frankly, I don't get it." Sandra's response: "And frankly, you never will!"

Chick to Joan: "He's [Wilbur] going to a masquerade ball, but I'm not doing anything." Joan: "Then you'll be awfully lonely."

Larry to Wilbur: "But you and I have a date with destiny!" Wilbur: "Let Chick go with destiny, please, huh?"

Dracula to Frankenstein when he first sees Wilbur: "Don't be afraid! He won't hurt you!"

Dracula as Dr. Ligos: "That's what we need today, young blood! And young brains!"

Dracula to Sandra: "This time the monster must have no will of his own. No fiendish intellect to oppose his master!" Sandra: "There my dear Count, I fell I have exceeded your fondest wishes. The new brain I have chosen for the monster is so simple, so pliable, he will obey you like a trained dog."

Larry: "In half an hour the moon will rise, and I'll turn into a wolf." Wilbur: "You and twenty million other guys!"

Wilbur to Chick: "It's nearly sunset. If Dracula lives here, he's going to want breakfast. I'm fatter than you! It ain't going to be me!"

Wilbur to Frankenstein: "Frankie I'm telling ya it's a bad deal! I've had this brain for thirty years and it hasn't worked yet!"

The Invisible Man: "I was hoping to get in on the fun!"

Moral: Anyone dressed as Dracula, is Dracula!

Conclusion:

Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein is a hoot! It is fun and family friendly and should definitely be on your Halloween movie list. One of the great things about this flick is the fact that although A & C are there for laughs, the other actors play it straight! This makes it a fun comedy and a rather silly but fair monster flick as well. Because of this, many monster movie buffs consider this to be a continuation of the Universal monster cycle - a legitimate monster movie! I'm not sure I would agree, but the story does pick up where the older Universal films left off, with Dracula trying to control Frankenstein's monster and the Wolfman trying to hunt them both down.

It seems that Bud and Lou were not real keen on the idea of this movie because it seemed like the focus would be on physical humor (it is) and not their trademark verbal routines like "Who's On First?" However, this movie proved to be a real moneymaker for Universal International. It was the second cheapest film they produced that year and made the second highest profit! And so it spawned many other Abbot and Costello Meet... flicks that kept the box office cash flowing.

One classic deserves another...

Lindemans Gueuze

Brouwerij Lindemans, Vlezenbeek, Belgium

What the heck is gueuze? Gueuze is the traditional naturally fermented ale of Belgium. This is the style of beer that Belgians, usually housewives, have been brewing for centuries. Gueuze is the most basic form of lambic. No fruit, just water, grains, some hops and natural yeast.

ABV: 4.00% IBU: low

Color: A slightly cloudy tawny amber. The cloudy part comes from wheat proteins. Remember lambics are made with at least 30% wheat.

Aroma: Soft and rather subtle. There is a bit of the cider character lambics are known for as well as a slight fruit or floral component. The hops come through but not strongly. There is an interesting sort of musty scent in the background, this may be what I have read beer snobs refer to as "wet wool." There is also a hint of spice.

Head: The white head is dense, foamy and persistent. It forms the uneven surface beer snobs call "rocky" and leaves the strands of foam on the side of the glass called "Belgian Lace."

Taste: Very fruity cider like taste. Crisp and not very bitter at all. Slightly hoppy and spicy, rather like ginger beer but without the burn. The fruity start moves to a mellow smooth middle and leads to a slightly bitter finish with a short cider aftertaste.

Recommendation:

Lindemans Gueuze is a very refreshing beer. It would be perfect for those times when you do not want a heavy or very hoppy beer. Those who prefer less bitter beer will love it. It is refreshing enough to have at a summer picnic, but the cider taste would go down well in Autumn and I am willing to bet this would be great warmed and mulled during Christmas. Lindemans produces another winner! Highly recommended!

I feel that I have to mention that h&m (you know, my cohorts who referred to beer as tasting like cat piss) tried this beer and liked it. I rest my case.

Okey-dokey friends and neighbors! Another Halloween review in the bag! Catch ya next time.

-BigRuta

Remember: comments, questions, suggestions and requests always welcome.

2 comments:

Hal said...

not cat piss. weasel piss...beer tastes like weasel piss.

BigRuta said...

And you would know what weasel piss tastes like because...?