Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein -1948-


Directed by Charles Barton. 83 mins.

Worth my time? No. (Seen at the New Beverly Cinema, Hollywood)

I saw this movie about a week ago, and I’ve been putting off my write-up because I didn’t want to spend any more time thinking to this piece of shit. There’s a lot of “classic comedy” that fuckin’ blows, and from what I’ve seen, Abbott and Costello make every Three Stooges short look like The Gold Rush by comparison.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein has a reputation for being one of the better later Universal monster movies which doesn’t speak highly of its predecessors. I love Dracula and the first two Frankenstein films, but these creatures ran out of steam with Son of Frankenstein. Why did the studio think that adding the stupid hijinks of A&C into the mix would help? They must have wanted to get more use out of old sets before tearing them down.

I never was much of a Wolf Man fan, but Lon Chaney, Jr. is easily the best part of the movie. Bela Lugosi looks desperate, and Glenn Strange (playing The Monster) is a poor substitute for Boris Karloff. How do you fuck up playing a corpse, Glenn?

On the upside, I found this rad Eastern European poster for the film. It’s way more entertaining than the movie itself.

(Seen on 2014-04-27, written on 2014-05-02)

Son of Frankenstein -1939-


Directed by Rowland V. Lee. 99 mins.

Worth my time? No. (Watched on Amazon Instant View)

Bleh, this was one of the worst threequels I’ve seen since Spider-Man 3. Karloff and Lugosi are wasted (though Ygor’s broken neck looks pretty nifty). The sense of humor that made Bride refreshing is gone, and the creepiest thing about this film is Basil Rathbone’s last name.

Son is nearly a half hour longer than the 1931 original, and I felt every last second. Most of the film consists of townsfolk hemming and hawing about how spooky and creepy the Frankenstein legacy is. The Monster is even dumber than he was in the first movie, having somehow lost the knowledge and character that he gained throughout Bride. Karloff seems more dead than usual.

Also, why in the fuck did Rathbone revive the Monster. He straight up says, “This is a really bad idea, and nothing good can come of it.”

(Seen and written on 2013-12-12)

Bride of Frankenstein -1935-


Directed James Whale. 75 mins.

Worth my time? Yes. (Watched on Netflix Instant View)

The sequel to the 1931 horror classic is the Evil Dead 2 of its time. Not only does it quickly go through the events of its predecessor (by way of a bizarre, Kaufmanian frame story featuring the Shelleys and Lord Byron), but it also has a self-awareness and sense of humor that I wasn’t expecting. Dr. Pretorius (the new villain played by Ernest Thesiger) takes the mad scientist to an absurd level with his jars full of tiny, gerbil-voiced actors. Didn’t see that coming.

Karloff’s Monster is much more sympathetic character this time around. Yeah, he’s still violent, but it’s clearer that all he wants is acceptance. His friendship with the blind hermit (inspired by a segment of the original novel) and subsequent education turns the Monster into a smoking, drinking, fun-loving sort of undead dude.

I was bummed that the Bride only has about one minute of screentime, but the ending is way cooler than the original. Lots of explosions, panic, and one of the best final lines of any movie I’ve seen:

“You stay. We belong dead.”

Aside: The writers’ rationale for how the Monster survived the end of the first film seemed like bullshit to me.

(Seen and written on 2013-12-11)

Frankenstein -1931-


Directed by James Whale. 70 mins.

Worth my time? Yes. (Watched on Amazon Prime)

Whatever happened to the 70-minute movie? Just get to the action without the bullshit exposition. One would think that studios would be shortening film lengths in order to get more screenings per theater per day, but that doesn’t appear so. Christ, in this day and age, even manchild comedies are quickly approaching Malickian runtimes (seriously, Judd, knock it the fuck off).

Short features are the bee’s knees.

I was probably a toddler when I last saw Frankenstein, and certainly appreciate it more now. I vaguely remembered it as a clunky film (probably because it’s in black-and-white and toddlers are superficial assholes), but it’s a supremely polished piece of entertainment. From the polite-yet-unsettling opening disclaimer to the busy pre-StediCam shots á la Murnau, James Whale and Arthur Edeson know exactly how to capture the action. The use of silhouettes against nightscapes is especially beautiful.

Everyone already knows that Boris Karloff is super-creepy as the Monster, so I want to spend that time giving props to Colin Clive as the titular doctor. He’s actually fairly level headed (as well as his hunchback assistant), so it’s nice to see that the archetypical mad scientist had a restrained, believable genesis. The allegories of the movie are pretty clear. You don’t need a Dr. Heiter to drive it into the ground.

(Seen and written on 2013-12-03)