Welcome One and All!

For all you Halloween Fanatics....this will be a review and links site of the Best Haunted Houses in the country that my wife Lisa and I have had the pleasure - or displeasure - of gracing....

I've been a *huge* Halloween and horror fan since I can remember...I dunno...it just brings the kid in me out...by the end of September, our place is suitably adorned and we await each weekend with anticipation of which haunts to hit next....

We've been blessed enough to be able to travel quite a bit around the country and see some wonderful attractions and the cities they lurk in...and we're hoping to pass on the fun we've had on to anyone willing to listen in....

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN - The DEFINITIVE Halloween Movie






...Halloween is yet again within our grasp....
With it being the month of all these ghoulish and ghastly, I wanted to take a look at classic film that, for myself anyway, encapsulates Halloween, haunting and all things spooky – I’m referring to none other than 1948’s “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein”….
…yeah, yeah, yeah, I can hear a few of you now “That flick’s so old! And hasn’t there been tons written on this it already?”
Hmmmm…..perhaps, but, follow me, dear reader, I have a few things to enlighten you with…
...so what DOES make this film so special? What's it's appeal to so many generations?
Well, for starters, just about every horror and Halloween cliche by way of set pieces is in the film!
Darkened wax museums, Gothic castles, mad scientists laboratories, hidden chambers, sinister swamps and even a masquerade ball make appearances during the course o the film - Universal made a career out of these!
Next up is the cast -
For my money, this is the funniest Abbott and Costello ever got in terms of movies....oh, sure, films like Africa Screams and Buck Privates have some hysterical gag spots, but, for my money, this was their crowning achievement comedically....the duo play their strengths to the hilt here, with Bud's cynaical straight man Chick Young bouncing one liners and insults off of Lou's simpleton, rubber faced Wilbur Gray...
As an side, and, not surprisingly, the success of this film began a series of films with Bud and Lou meeting he Invisible Man, the mummy and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Jekyll being played by Boris Karloff, who, even when semi-sleep walking through a role like he does here, acting wise, lays waste to the entire cast without even popping a sweat!
Anyway!   
...and then there's the monsters....
Bela Lugosi gives a tour-de-fore performance as Count Dracula - all restrained menace, malevolent eyes and gestures and veiled threats - this was only his second time performing the role onscreen, although, by this point, he had done it thousands of time on the live stage...Lugosi is just on fire here, one of his finest performances....he also some of the best lines, too...the one about young people making the most of life...while it lasts...has such a sinister edge to it, while being so darkly funny...priceless!
Lugosi was in his '60s by this point, and although he is heavily made up for the role, looking very much like a walking copse, but his appearance only adds to the threat, emphasizing the Count's vanity and age... 
Lon Chaney turns in another terrific performance as the tormented Larry Talbot a.k.a. The Wolf Man, and he, too, gets some terrific lines and the funniest scenes in the film are with he and Lou, especially in the hotel room...and how could anyone ever forget:
"When the moon rises I'll turn into a wolf!"
"You and about twenty million other guys!"
Cheney's still in good shape in the film, and his werewolf action sequences are still quite physical and top notch...
BTW, did it occur to anyone that, in the prior film, 1945's HOUSE OF DRACULA, that he was actually *cured* of his lycanthropy...? Hmmmm.
This was Glenn Strange's third and final turn as the Frankenstein Monster, and he does admirably well with what he's given - which isn't much really - by this point the Monster had been reduced to a lumbering brute, but, hey, whatever works, and he goes into a suitable rampage in the film's final comic reels....
A point a lot of folks are unaware of is that Strange was coached by none other than Boris Karloff himself during 1944's HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN...and, at the film's, Strange drags Karloff to his death in a quicksand bog...and that is gratitude for ya'...
Speaking of Karloff, by this point, he was so disillusioned with Universal's treatment of the Frankenstein Monster, that, when the studio asked him to do some promotion for the film, he agreed only to have his picture taken by a poster for picture, and only if he didn't have to sit through the movies.
In a word: Ouch.
Finally, let's not forget Vincent Price's cameo as the Invisible Man in the film's final moments...a forerunner of things to come?
The supporting cast does it's job admirably, with Lenore Albert as the Black Widow scientist in league with Dracula to put Lou's brain in the skull of the Frankenstein monster worthy of particular mention...yeah, I know, kind of a dumb plot, but, hey it was the 1940s...
This has been mentioned before, but one of the major points to the films success is the fact the monsters are played straight in the middle of Bud and Lou's antics - they are still a very serious threat, despite the boys buffoonery.
There's comedy aplenty here, with all sorts of gags - in particular, look for the dungeon sequence with Lou sitting on Frankenstein's lap, a scene that took multiple retakes as Glenn Strange couldn't stop laughing...
The last twenty minutes are just pure hysteria, with Bud and Lou trying to escape the cross fire as the monsters do their mash and all hell breaks loose - I don't know how many times I've rewound the VCR or DVD to re watch this section, but it never looses it's hilarity for me.
Incidentally, the original working title for this was The Brain of Frankenstein - and a lot of the action sequences were lifted from a proposed Dracula vs. The Wolf Man feature that never quite got off the ground.
This movie - along with House of Frankenstein and House Dracula - are the beginnings of the Monster Rally creature feature flicks - a trend that continues even today - I mean, if one monster is box office gold, how baout two or three all together?
For better or worse, these films lead to feature like Mad Monster Party, The Monster Squad - both the 1970s TV show and the 1987 feature film, Van Helsing, and, most recently, the animated feature Hotel Transylvania, which has some direct references to both of the House films and this one as well....
Heck, even the upcoming Godzilla sequel - scheduled for June of 2018 - follows this pattern - in addition to Godzilla, we're getting Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidroah as well....in other words, the ploy works!
The film is available on DVD via Amazon.com, with a behind the scenes documentary and audio commentary hosted by David Skaal, noted historian of the Universal Monsters series, included on the disc. 
Wrapping it up here, A & C meet Frankenstein is a wonderful way to being kids to both Universal Monster AND Halloween - my father and I spent quite a few evenings enjoying this one together, too - even when we couldn't communicate on hardly anything at all, there was always this movie...and that is it's magic, for me, anyway...
...this year, when Trick or treat is over, and everyone is settled in for the night, pop this one in the DVD player and take your family on a funny and scary ride that has etched itself into several generations of my family's lives....and many others as well...
In closing, my wife Lisa and I would like to wish everyone a very happy and safe Halloween for 2014 - may your night be filled with treats and no tricks, may all the monsters you meet be sweet and may the Great Pumpkin overflow your goodie bags with your heart's desire...
Til then, always remember Svengoolie and brush your fangs, comb your face, drink your milk before it clots, have a terrific Halloween, and, now more than ever, have a Night of Fright!















































































































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