Monday, October 27, 2014

Rant #1,310: How I Celebrate Halloween

Halloween is coming right up, on Friday of this week.

It just isn't the same holiday that I grew up with, and I will save another column to talk about that.

Today, I want to talk about how I celebrate the holiday.

I have started to make this an annual ritual, and I did it again this past Saturday night.

I watched "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein," not only one of the greatest comedies of all time--as voted on by the American Film Institute (AFI)--but probably the greatest of all the horror/comedy movies.

This film certainly led the way to not only all of its Abbott and Costello sequels, but also to a number of other similar-type films, including, to a certain extent,  "Ghostbusters."

The Abbott and Costello film both revived their film careers and revived Universal Pictures, which might not still be around if not for this movie. It made so much money back in the late 1940s and early 1950s that it kept the studio afloat, and allowed Bud and Lou to star in a series of similarly themed films, some very good, some not so good.

The 1948 film sees the boys playing two dimwitted movers, who are hired to move two large crates to a house of horrors.

One crate supposedly has the remains of Dracula, the other the remains of the Frankenstein monster.

This all ties into the fact that Lou is enamored with a beautiful scientist, who just happens to be Dracula's assistant.

Once the crates are delivered, the boys unwittingly release both Dracula and the monster, and tied into Lou's relationship, Lou is being sized for his brain, which will be implanted into the monster by the evil doctor and her own, handsome assistant.

Most of the action takes place in Dracula's castle and at a costume party being held nearby, and at the end, Bud and Lou succeed in destroying both Dracula, and the monster, at least for the time being.

What leads up to all of this is not only clever, but hilarious, and while most of it revolves around the use of Lou's brain--which is supposedly superior to the one Dr. Frankenstein implanted into the monster in the first place--Bud is also part of the hilarity, as is Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolfman.

In his own Wolfman films, the character of Lawrence Talbot is to be pitied for his affliction; here, he is part of the hilarity. I am sure there are outtakes of this film that are as funny as the movie itself, and when Chaney, stone-faced as always, recites to Bud and Lou the reason why he fears the full moon at night, turning into a wolf, I am sure it took many takes to get it right. Just hearing him tell them this makes me laugh, and I am sure it made them laugh too.

Of course, on film, Lou says the proper reply to this supposed nonsense. As Chaney tells him that he turns into a wolf at night, Costello says, "So do a thousand other guys."

Universal took their most popular franchises, during a down time in their history, put them together, and came up with gold.

The film was so successful, and so well regarded, that is spawned several other "Abbott and Costello Meet ... " films, including movies where they met the Invisible Man (another terrific film), the Killer, Boris Karloff, and the Mummy.

Its success also saved the studio, which was back in the black with this movie.

As one of the few Abbott and Costello films without the use of any routines, it is really the dialogue that spurs the comedy and the action, and the boys are superb in their roles, as are Bela Lugosi, who supposedly had a tough time concentrating with all the craziness that went along working with Bud and Lou, and Glenn Strange as the monster, who handles an impossible role with aplomb, the best comedic Frankenstein monster until Fred Gwynne gave it his 110 percent on "The Munsters."

So I have made watching this movie my ode to Halloween, and even though I was a few days early, I felt it was perfect for viewing on Saturday night, so I watched it.

I must have seen this film 1,000 times already, but I laugh just as hard now as I did when I first saw the movie as a kid.

If you have never seen this movie, if you don't necessarily like Abbott and Costello, or if you want a quick 83 minutes to go by one night--or if you love the antics of the boys as much as I do--this is a must for the Halloween season.

The movie is that good, it really is.

It might not spook you, but it will certainly make you laugh, and put you in a perfect frame of mind to celebrate Halloween.

Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein by crazedigitalmovies

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