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Charles Barton
Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi
Writing Credits:
Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo, John Grant

Two hapless freight handlers find themselves encountering Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster and the Wolf Man.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English DTS-HD MA Mono
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 83 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 10/14/14

• Audio Commentary with Film Historian Gregory W. Mank
• “Abbott and Costello Meet the Monsters” Featurette
• 2 “100 Years of Universal” Featurettes
• Trailer


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Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein [Blu-Ray] (1948)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 14, 2018)

If we combine classic horror icons with classic comedians, should not the result become a classic? Perhaps, but I can't bestow that accolade on 1948's Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. However, I can say that it's a solid and consistently amusing little effort that stands the test of time.

The entire project sounds like someone's boyhood fantasy. The "monster vs. monster" genre already started to develop a few years earlier with 1943's Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, but Abbott takes that concept to an even more absurd degree.

It's like some kids sat around and said, "You know what'd be cool? If they had a movie with Frankenstein and Dracula!"

"Yeah, that'd rock! And it should have the Wolf Man, too!"

"And Abbott and Costello! That'd be really great!"

That's not how the project really evolved, but it maintains a spirit of goofy fun that's in keeping with my little scenario. Half horror film and half comedy, Abbott boasts a nice balance between the two genres and becomes a very satisfying blend of both.

Actually, to modern sensibilities, I don't think much about Abbott will prove scary. I'll defer to the standards of the time, which - according to some of this disc's supplements - indicate that 1948 audiences found the movie to be spooky at times.

To me, the comedic elements dominate the proceedings so greatly that I can't imagine how anyone would feel scared by this film, but one must also remember that I'm a manly man who isn't frightened of anything, so less burly sorts must adjust my opinions accordingly.

Freight handlers Wilbur Grey (Lou Costello) and Chick Young (Bud Abbott) find themselves tasked with transporting the remains of Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and Frankenstein’s Monster (Glenn Strange). This leads to a series of supernatural adventures, some of which also involve the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr.).

One positive aspect of Abbott stems from the fact that the actors who play the monsters all do so "straight". Other than one priceless scene involving Franky and Costello, there aren't any segments in which the creatures behave in goofy or silly ways. This adds to the effect of the rest of the comedy, since it makes the humor stand out as more distinct.

And the funny stuff certainly works well, largely to the talents of Mr. Costello. Abbott seems to show their work in the most positive light possible.

The film works well mainly due to the madcap presence of Costello. Without question, the movie provides a funny and enjoyable time because of Costello's silliness.

He portrays the lovable moron to a "T" and shows impeccable comic timing. He also gives us unpredictable line readings and responses to events that make lackluster material amusing.

Since he's not as broad and compelling a character, Abbott's work may seem less important, but it shouldn't be regarded as such. Just as the movie functions better due to the "straight" portrayals of the monsters, we also need a more sedate and "normal" person off of whom a goof like Costello can play, and that's what Abbott does so well.

He grounds Costello and makes his antics seem funnier due to his exasperated reactions. They seem to have been a first-rate comic team.

And Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein offers a top-notch mix of horror and comedy. I expected to dislike this film, as I thought the humor would dilute the monsters' presence to a great degree.

Happily, that's not the case, and the movie qualifies as an example of a project that had its cake and ate it too. Both fans of classic monster pictures and of Abbott and Costello should find this film very satisfying, and the fact the movie will work for both audiences is nothing short of amazing.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a pleasing presentation.

Although some minor softness interfered with a few wide shots, I thought that most of the film seemed well-defined. Despite a few slightly soft shots, the movie usually came across with nice delineation. Moiré effects and jagged edges remained absent, and I saw no edge haloes or digital noise reduction.

Black levels appeared deep and rich, with some fine contrast throughout the film. I also found shadow detail to seem nicely clear and not too heavy.

Print flaws remained absent, so I saw no specks, marks or other concerns. I felt happy with this strong transfer.

Though not as impressive, the movie’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack held up well. Dialogue was mildly thin but appeared relatively clear and distinct, with no edginess or concerns related to intelligibility.

Effects were similarly crisp and accurate and they showed little distortion. The music sounded smooth and appropriately Bright, so whole it lacked much dynamic range, it showed acceptable clarity. For a film from 1948, this seemed like a successful soundtrack.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD version? Audio seemed smoother and clearer, while visuals appeared tighter and cleaner. The Blu-ray offered a nice upgrade.

The Blu-ray brings back mostx of the DVD’s extras, and we start with am audio commentary from film historian Thomas W. Mank. In this running, screen-specific piece, Mank covers cast/crew, the development of the film and aspects of the production, its release and aftermath.

Mank gives us a fine historical commentary. While he seems a little too obsessed with the financial details of the production, he still discusses a nice array of topics and gives us many useful insights.

Hosted by David J. Skal, Abbott and Costello Meet the Monsters runs 33 minutes, five seconds program. It offers notes from Abbott and Costello in Hollywood co-author Ron Palumbo, Lou Costello’s daughter Chris Costello, collector/archivist Bob Burns, film historian Bob Madison and Bela Lugosi’s son Bela G. Lugosi.

We learn about the Abbott and Costello team and their move to Hollywood, cast and performances, makeup and effects, story/characters, the work of the director and the tone on the set, and the film’s legacy. “Meet” offers a decent overview. It lacks great depth but it adds useful notes as well as some fun footage from the production.

In addition to a re-release trailer, we find two featurettes under the 100 Years of Universal banner. “The Lot” goes for nine minutes, 25 seconds and features comments from filmmakers Steven Spielberg, Peyton Reed, Ivan Reitman, Peter Berg, John Landis, Ron Howard, Michael Mann, Phil Alden Robinson, and John Carpenter, NBC Universal Archives and Collections director Jeff Pirtle, Universal Studios Hollywood tour guide Molly Orr, and actors Dan Aykroyd, Paul Rudd and Meryl Streep.

This one takes us around the Universal Studios locations and tells us a little about movies made there. What does any of this have to do with Abbott? Very little.

Midway through a short discussion of Universal horror, we get a quick snippet from the film but that’s it, so no one discusses the flick at all. Despite the featurette’s disconnect from Abbott, it seems pretty fun. While it aims to promote the greatness that is Universal, it’s still light and likable.

“Unforgettable Characters” lasts eight minutes, 18 seconds. It features a slew of movie snippets as a narrator tells us about different Universal roles – a few monsters receive mention. It’s mildly entertaining but it essentially exists as an advertisement.

To my surprise, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein becomes an entertaining little film. Frankly, I expected it to stink but instead I found a consistently funny and delightful piece. The Blu-ray offers very good picture along with satisfying audio and a few interesting bonus materials. Costello works well.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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