Abbott & Costello & Universal’s Horror Classic Characters

Let’s start with the first of this series, 1948’s Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. Although the movie should have been named Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, The Werewolf & Count Dracula. Lon Chaney, Jr (the Wolfman), Glenn Strange (Frankenstien’s monster) & the illustrious Bela Lugosi (Count Dracula). Costello & Abbott are two baggage clerks who have to deliver the coffins of Dracula & Frankenstein to the House Of Horrors. Costello gets scared by Dracula, in a long hilarious scene. Also his simple minded brain is what Dr. Sandra Mornay covets to replace the one in Frankenstein. So she pretends to fall for him and they become a couple. Another good looking dame Joan, who is an insurance investigator, also pretends to fall for the “charms” of Costello.

Dracula and Sandra try to get Costello for the surgery but are thwarted by the combined efforts of the Wolfman, Prof Stevens, who is an assistant to Dr. Sandra but doesn’t share her’s & Dracula’s sinister plots, Joan and our beloved duo. Dracula is killed, presumably, when the Wolfman grabs onto him as he jumps out a window. Sandra is killed as she is thrown from a considerable height by The Wolfman. We get plenty of routine skits by Abbott & Costello, all which sound as hilarious as they did all those years ago. During filming, Glenn Strange found Costello so funny he would often break up laughing, necessitating many retakes (this is readily apparent in the scene where Costello sits on the Monster’s lap). This is definitely my favourite movie of A&C.

In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed this film “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry, and in September 2007, Readers Digest selected the movie as one of the top 100 funniest films of all time. The 1948 film is recognized by historians as the definitive end point to the American golden age of the monster mash and the classic Universal monster cycle.

Next we got Abbott & Costello Meet The Invisible Man. Arthur Franz co-stars as Tommy Nelson, a champion middleweight boxer who injects himself with a serum that makes him invisible. Tommy recently escaped from jail, after being accused of murdering his manager, and asks a rookie investigation agency consisting of Abbott & Costello to help him clear his name. Also helping hem is Tommy’s fiance Helen (the lovely Nancy Guild). The bumbling detectives have to help Tommy solve the case and also uncover a gambling ring where boxers are asked to ‘throw’ a match for more money. Lou also has to pretend to be a boxer, with the invisible Tommy helping him in the ring and fight Rocky Hanlon.

The scene in the hotel where Lou, Bud & the invisible Tommy are eating dinner and drinking is really funny. It is uncovered that the boxing promoter is the one behind the murder of Tommy’s manager and the cops are led to the boxing match as well. Morgan plans Bud’s murder which is thwarted by Tommy, who unfortunately is wounded in the battle. The protagonists rush to the hospital where a blood transfusion is arranged between Lou and Tommy. During the transfusion, Tommy becomes visible again. Unfortunately, some of Tommy’s blood has apparently entered Lou,who briefly turns invisible, only to reappear with his legs on backwards.

This movie came out in 1951 and is a modified remake of the 1940 film The Invisible Man Returns.

The next one, Abbott & Costello Meet Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, is not one that I particularly enjoyed. It felt that A&C were reduced to more of a supporting cast and just there for comic relief. It wasn’t their best work and felt forced. First of all Bud & Lou are American cops in London, trying to control a woman’s lib meeting & speech in Hyde Park that turns into a huge fight. Newspaper reporter Bruce Adams and the meeting’s instigator Vicky Edwards are arrested and Bud & Lou are kicked off the force for getting themselves dragged into the altercation. Vicky’s guardian Dr. Jeckyll (the great Boris Karloff) has them released on bail. Dr. Jeckyll ofcourse is behind the recent killings in the Hyde Park area, transformed into a hideous monster while conducting strange experiments on himself. Meanwhile Vicky & Bruce fall in love with each other.

Costello actually captures the monster, by pure luck, in a cell at the museum but by the time he gets the cops & Abbott, Hyde has transformed back to Dr. Jeckyll. At the doctor’s house Costello drinks a potion, thinking it to be water, and turns into a large mouse, which leads to a funny scene at a local bar. Vicky announces her engagement to Bruce and Mr. Hyde reemerges, this time with intent to murder Vicky as he actually loves his ward romantically. In the fight that follows, Costello also gets injected with the serum that turns him into a monster like Jeckyll. So as Bruce and some cops chase Mr. Hyde, Bud chases after Costello thinking that he is the monster.  Bruce ends up back at Jekyll’s home, where Hyde falls from an upstairs window to his death, revealing to everyone his true identity when he reverts to normal form. Slim then brings Tubby (still in monster form) to the Inspector. Before reverting to human form, Tubby bites the Inspector and four officers, transforming them into monsters who begin to chase Abbott & Costello.

I didn’t agree with this movie and it’s only funny in places. Not a bad film really but not a good showcase of Abbott & Costello type humour.

So we come to the fourth and final installment of A&C movies featuring Universal’s famour horror characters, Abbott & Costello Meet The Mummy. It’s also the 28th and final Universal film; they would go on to make on more movie, their 36th together. Anyways, Aboot & Costello are two stranded men in Cairo and they overhear Dr. Gustav talking about the Mummy Klaris and his plans to take the mummy to the US. Hoping to hitch a ride home, the two go to the professor’s house to volunteer their services. However, two men who the followers of Klaris, kill the professor and unfortunately our comedic duo stumble upon the dead body in the house. They find a medallion, which actually shows the location of a treasure, and try to sell it.

Madame Rontru, a business woman interested in stealing the treasure of Princess Ara offers to buy the medallion from them but somehow the medallion ends up in Costello’s burger and he eats the medallion! Semu, the leader of Klaris’s followers also follows them and offers his services to read the inscription on the medallion. Rontru & her men lead Semu, A&C to the tomb but then Rontru has Semu tied up. A&C find their way into the tomb and see that the Mummy Klaris is alive! One of Rontru’s men, Charlie (played by a young Michael Ansara) disguises himself as the Mummy and so does Abbott! Now we have 3 mummies running around and getting buried in the sand. Eventually all three mummies are in the same place at the same time, and the dynamite that Rontru intends to use to dig up the treasure detonates, killing Klaris and revealing the treasure. Freddie and Pete convince Semu to turn the temple into a nightclub to preserve the legend of Klaris. But Abbott & Costello convince Semu & his followers to keep Klaris’s memories alive by turning the tomb & temple into a nightclub to preserve the legend.

Meet The Mummy is funnier than Dr.Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. My favs in order are Frankenstein, The Invicible Man, The Mummy & Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde. Watch out for more reviews of Abbott & Costello movies in my blog.

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