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Seen on Thursday night round at ms_siobhan's place after nourishing bowls of home-made minestrone soup... the healthy effects of which we then trashed by eating half a packed of chocolate-coated ginger biscuits each while watching the film.

I had never seen an Abbott and Costello film before, but ms_siobhan grew up on them, and indeed she reckons they were the first context in which she encountered the classic gothic horror icons. Despite the '... meet Frankenstein' of the title, this one doesn't actually feature Frankenstein himself, but rather his creation (played by Glenn Strange), whom they correctly refer to as 'Frankenstein's monster' at first, but later slip into calling 'Frankie'. But much more significantly as far as I'm concerned, it also features Bela Lugosi in the only time other than the original 1931 film that he explicitly played Dracula on screen. (BTW, ms_siobhan, the not-technically-Dracula Lugosi role which I keep trying to tell you about but forgetting the name of, where he played alongside a woman who was a huge fan of his, is Mark of the Vampire. We should definitely see that some time.)

Inevitably, in a comic context and 20 years later, Lugosi plays the role as a bit of a parody of himself. His cloak is too shiny and looks like he got it from a fancy dress shop, there's rather too much in the way of mesmeric finger movements, and we couldn't really understand why he needed to keep pulling his cloak up over his face so much. But, on the other hand, it is very definitely his Dracula, and the role also gave him lots of scope to pretend to be human and be all duplicitous while he was about it, which was fun to see. He gets a bit of that in the original 1931 film, conversing with people at the opera and in Dr. Seward's drawing-room, but there seemed to be more of it here, plus some rather more full-on neck-biting action than he ever got back in 1931.

Also on board are Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolf-Man, and a lovely voice-cameo from Vincent Price at the end as the Invisible Man, so it is quite the monster-fest overall. Add to that some absolutely beautiful frocks on some strikingly self-possessed - nay, sassy - female characters, and some very impressive sets (castles, cellars, laboratories) and it is definitely worth watching. I don't know that I'll rush to see more Abbott and Costello films - it's not really my style of humour, and is difficult for a 21st-century British woman to relate very deeply to. But I'm certainly open to more of their Universal Monsters cross-over flicks, should they happen to cross my path.

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 15th, 2017 10:50 pm (UTC)
I'm sure I first saw that film on a rainy afternoon round at my grandparents. It will have scared me at the time but also thrilled me and set me on the path to the woman I am today :-)

I loved it then and I still do now- apart from when Dracula was biting his assistant and you saw his reflection in the glass!! Though I doubt I saw that flaw when I was little.

I rewatched House of Frankenstein yesterday - it's beautifully lit, but it suffers from a storyline that just sort of peters out but it features John Carradine as Dracula complete with a rather marvellous ring, Lon Chaney as the Wolfman, and Boris Karloff as the wannabe Dr Frankenstein. I think you'd enjoy it in places if you saw it - especially the Dracula bit as it talks a lot abiut sunshine being dangerous to vampires and the perils of inviting them in...
Jan. 15th, 2017 10:56 pm (UTC)
I'm not too worried about Dracula having a reflection. It's practically a plot point in Risen, when the priest first sees him after regaining consciousness as a reflection in the icy mountain stream.

Karloff as Frankenstein sounds fun. He is so amazing.
Jan. 16th, 2017 02:21 pm (UTC)
He's officially credited as 'mad scientist' - his best role in any Frankenstein film except for the Creature is in Frankenstein 1970 when he plays a more modern day Baron Frankenstein.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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