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Film / Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Our heroes are in a pickle now!

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankensteinnote  is a 1948 horror comedy. It is a crossover between Universal's Monster Mash horror films and Abbott and Costello series of comedies.

Detaching itself from the continuity of the previous Universal Horror films, this movie centers around the cowardly Wilbur (Costello) and his no-nonsense buddy Chick (Abbott) who work as baggage clerks. One day they receive an order to take two boxes, which have just come from London to the States, to McDougal's House of Horrors. The boxes contain the remains of Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and Frankenstein's Monster (Glenn Strange), who are in fact alive and soon escape the place.

Dracula arranged this little charade to come abroad in hopes of getting a new brain for, and thus restoring, the Monster. He is working with scientist Sandra Mornay (Lenore Aubert) to accomplish this task, and she has found the perfect candidate for the "donation": Wilbur.

But that's not all; Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.), The Wolf Man himself, joins our heroes to stop Dracula. Too bad that he happens to turn into a werewolf at most inappropriate times...

One of the favorite films of Quentin Tarantino, who's noted that its successful genre-blending helped inspire his own style.

Here's something to laugh at:

  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: At one point Chick and Wilbur slam a door in the face of Frankenstein's Monster and try barricading it. Alas, they forgot that it opened the other way and get a very nasty surprise.
  • Affably Evil: Dracula, especially in his "Dr. Lejos" persona.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of Universal Horror.
  • Animated Credits Opening: Done by Walter Lantz, of Woody Woodpecker fame.
  • Aside Glance: At one point while fleeing from the Monster, Wilbur pulls off a successful Tablecloth Yank, which leads to him briefly grinning at the audience with a pleased "ta-daa!" expression before remembering himself and fleeing again.
  • Asshole Victim: McDougal, who is bitten by the Wolf Man, but lives.
  • The Atoner: After spending the last three movies trying to find a permanent way to die, Larry Talbot has finally given up and decided that since he can't die or be cured, he'll spend his days hunting other monsters, hoping to balance out the murders he'll inevitably commit by taking out Dracula and his ilk.
  • Axe Before Entering: The Monster breaking through a door.
  • Behind the Black: When Wilbur finds the secret room with the Monster and Dracula in it, he doesn't notice anything at first because of this.
  • Berserk Button: Wilbur cracking "wolf" jokes is this to Talbot.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolf Man, although Dracula is the true Big Bad.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Larry's transformation occurs just in time to fight off Dracula.
  • Bowdlerise: Almost every scene involving a monster had to be removed before the Australian film board would allow its release.
  • Breaking the Bonds: The Monster breaks his operating table bonds in the climax.
  • The Cameo: Vincent Price voices the final line of the film:
    "Allow me to introduce myself: I'm The Invisible Man. Hahahahaha!"
    • While the duo actually would encounter an Invisible Man in a 1951 movie, it would be a different character and actor, keeping this from being a true Sequel Hook.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: Chick attempts to hit Dracula with a chair in the climax, but hits Sandra instead. Later Dracula picks up one when he is fighting Wolf Man.
  • Corpsing: The scene where Costello is unknowingly sitting on the monster's lap had to be re-shot many times because Glenn Strange couldn't stop cracking up. Even in the finished version, you can see him starting to smile as he gets up to chase Costello.
  • Crossover Punchline: The movie ends with the Invisible Man appearing.
  • Dem Bones: Our heroes are portrayed as skeletons in the animated opening sequence.
  • Destination Defenestration: The Monster throws Sandra through a window in the climax.
  • Diary: Dr. Frankenstein's diary makes an appearance yet again.
  • Disney Villain Death: Sandra, Dracula and the Wolf Man.
  • The Dragon: The Monster and Sandra are this to Dracula.
  • Fainting: Both Wilbur and Chick faint when they see Dracula turning from a bat to man in front of their eyes.
  • Kill It with Fire: In the end when Frankenstein's Monster is occupied with throwing stuff at escaping Wilbur and Chick, Stevens sets the pier on fire with gasoline, thus burning the Monster.
  • Meaningful Name: Dracula's alias, Dr. Lejos. "Lejos" is Spanish for "far", and Talbot described Dracula as having a "faraway look in his eye".
  • Name and Name: With a variation of a Versus Title thrown in.
  • Non-Indicative Name / I Am Not Shazam: They don't meet the actual Frankenstein, only his creation.
  • Only Sane Man: Poor Larry Talbot. Everyone else in the movie is either evil or an idiot. Naturally, they all think he's nuts... except for Dracula, who knows the truth, but acts like he thinks Talbot is nuts just to tick him off.
  • Role Reprisal: While he played other vampires, this is the only time that Bela Lugosi explicitly recreated the role that he made famous in Dracula (1931).
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Wilbur and the Monster during the brainswitch operation.
  • Tap on the Head: When Steven starts asking too many questions, Sandra gives him a whack in the head with a fire extinguisher.
  • Transformation Sequence: Talbot turning into a werewolf and Dracula turning into a bat.
  • We Meet Again: Talbot says this to Dracula when they meet at the costume party. Dracula feigns ignorance.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Chick's reaction to Sandra choosing Wilbur as a "boyfriend" early on.
    Chick: I don't get it. Out of all the guys around here, that classy dish has to pick out a guy like you.
    Wilbur: What's wrong with that?
    Chick: Go look at yourself in the mirror sometime.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Talbot attacks somebody, and the guy lives through it. We never find out if he becomes a wolf himself, though. (In fact, throughout the movies we never find out if Talbot's bite transfers the curse; his wolf form is substantially different than the one that bit him, and it's not clear that he can pass it on.)
    • The last time we see Talbot, he's falling off a cliff fighting Dracula. The movie doesn't bother to indicate what happens after they land.
  • You Have to Believe Me:
    • Poor Wilbur spends a good bit of the movie trying to convince Chick that he's seeing the monsters.
    • And, of course, Larry Talbot trying to convince Chick and Wilbur that he's the Wolf Man.