Kids tend to always have that one “special movie” they can’t live without; something so entertaining that they can take multiple viewings without getting bored or tiresome. Its a film that combines multiple genres into one story that moves at a strident pace so the attention span is manipulated. I guess the majority of readers will say an adventure with Mickey Mouse and friends sounds appropriate, or perhaps a live-action romp with an inanimate object coming to life (voiced by Dom DeLuise no doubt). I had seen plenty of those but none can hold a candle to Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
After a previous edition of VHS Memories, I explored Terminator 2: Judgement Day and how it was essentially my cousin’s “special movie”. I began to decide which subject would be the next and it hit me when my father Mr. Spaghetti said to me, “Hey what about Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, you watched that almost every day.” And that I did; parts of the tape gradually wore out over time. The monster brawl comedy was recorded alongside Garfield’s Halloween Special and a version of Peter Pan where Peter was played by a woman, so plenty of rewinding and fast-forwarding had to be done in order to reach that glorious Universal Pictures globe spinning in black and white.
For those who haven’t seen it, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is considered both the best picture the comedy-duo made and a pioneer in the genre of dark/black comedy. In 1948, the Universal Monsters still could conjure up a few scares to some folk but when mixed with the vaudeville acts of Abbott and Costello, it makes for an amazing cocktail of scares and laughs. While the scares portion is dry compared to modern horror, the laughs are still very strong and hold up to this day. Its still incredibly hilarious to watch Costello constantly refer to Larry Talbot’s lycanthropy as being a ladies man.
As for the constant VCR abuse from young Eddie Spaghetti, I simply really enjoyed seeing all the monsters together fighting each other while our two bumbling heros are chased about. It just didn’t seem to get old; I knew what would happen next and such but it was always a thrill to see Frankenstein’s Monster burnt to a crisp. The film does have a very major flaw that, at four years old, even I was able to pick out: Dracula has a reflection in a mirror!