Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, a beloved Universal Monster comedy classic, made its debut 74 years ago today. Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein boasts an 89% Rotten Tomatoes score and ranks 56 on AFI’s “100 Years… 100 Laughs” list. A long-time television staple and favorite of horror hosts such as MeTV’s Svengoolie, the 1948 film is beloved by generations. It seems like Bud Abbott and Lou Costello bumping up against the Universal Monsters is the ultimate cinematic mixing of chocolate and peanut butter. With its expert alchemy of horror and comedy, it’s easy to understand why the film has such staying power.
Universal had some success teaming up their 30s era horror characters into “monster-mash” movies in the 1940s. Both 1944’s House of Frankenstein and 1945’s House of Dracula featured versions of Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the Wolf Man together in the same film. Adding Abbott & Costello to the mix seems like an unlikely step. However, having horror powerhouses like Lon Chaney Jr, Bela Lugosi and Glenn Strange playing the horror and drama straight contrasts perfectly with Lou and Bud’s hijinks.
The plot of the film is straight-up mad scientist fare. Dracula (Lugosi, in his 2nd and final appearance in the role) wants to reinvigorate the Monster (Glenn Strange of Gunsmoke). In order to do this, Dracula (also a scientist, you see), wants to give Frankenstein’s Monster a new brain. The brain donor in question is neurotic delivery man Wilbur (Costello). Finally, Larry Talbot AKA the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr) shows up as the heroic straight man, trying to warn Costello’s character of the danger he’s in.
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein‘s enduring legacy
After being one of the most successful films Universal had in 1948, it launched an entire series pitting the duo against monsters. Bud & Lou went on to meet the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde and the Mummy in films. Furthermore, the comic duo even had a TV encounter with the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein laid the groundwork for horror comedies to follow. No doubt, Scooby-Doo, The Munsters and the Addams Family owe a debt of gratitude to Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein.
Of course, the Official Universal Monsters Instagram noted the anniversary with a post. The image is of the iconic comic duo with Frankenstein’s Monster looming behind them. The ongoing love for this film and the Universal Monsters franchise was on display in the comments. “My favorite movie of all time,” one fan commented. “Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein introduced me to the Universal Monsters, ” another noted.
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein is available to rent here.