Every Friday I will be posting here an excerpt from my book, the Horror Crossover Encyclopedia. These excerpts will be entries from the book featuring some of my favorite series, often series you might not expect to find in a book about horror crossovers.
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (FILM)
Release Date: June 15, 1948 (Contemporary Setting)
Series: Abbott and Costello (Non-Horror); Frankenstein (Universal)
Horror Crosses: Dracula (Universal); Wolf Man (Universal); Invisible Man (Universal)
The Story: Bud and Lou are now working as shipping clerks in La Mirada, FL under the assumed names of Chick Young and Wilber Grey. Two crates arrive for a wax museum, containing Dracula (in coffin) and Frankenstein’s monster. But in reality, it is Armand Tesla and Henry Frankenstein’s monster. Tesla, using the alias Leighos, has come to seek the aid of Doctor Mornay, to get a docile brain put into the monster. She has the perfect candidate: Wilber. Meanwhile, Larry Talbot (the Wolf Man) has arrived in La Mirada in pursuit of this Dracula. To make matters worse, Wilber and Chick are accused of thievery when the wax models they were supposed to deliver disappear (because they got up and walked away, naturally.) This brings insurance investigator Joan Raymond to town. In the end, everyone ends up on the island of Doctor Mornay. (Really.) Mornay’s assistant Dr. Stevens realizes his boss is up to no good and joins in on the heroics. Mornay is turned into a vampire. Wilber keeps his head. Apparently Tesla flees when chaos ensues, while the monster and the Wolf Man end up in suspended animation. The bumblers flee on a boat that just happens to have the Invisible Man Geoffrey Radcliffe in it, who was coming to play but missed all the fun.
Notes: I know there are entries before this one in this chronology, but from a real world perspective, this is where the Horror Universe begins. I know this film is preceded by other films with the three main monsters, but this one has Lugosi as Dracula, adds in the Invisible Man, and has my favorite comedy pair. This is absolutely one of my all time favorite films. So lets talk continuity and canon. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello are always the same characters in everything they do. But here’s the thing. They show up four times in this book. In Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, we have the best clue that they are the same guys. First, their characters are Freddie Franklin and Pete Patterson, but when they get flustered they forget and call each other Bud and Lou, and at one point, Lou yells for “Abbooooooott!!!!” So we need to assume the film titles are accurate, and that we are talking about two characters, not actors, named Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, who are flim flam artists, thus always moving and changing names. But let’s talk about Abbott and Costello meet Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. That takes place in the 1880s. No way that could be them. Well, I propose that it is Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, and that the other films feature Bud Jr. and Lou Jr. Now for the monsters. Dracula here is Armand Tesla, from Universal’s Dracula. (The name comes from the unofficial sequel with Lugosi Return of the Vampire.) He is not the infamous Count, but it’s likely he is one of the soul clones. Count Dracula from time to time turns others into vampires. Some of these he makes his agents while he rests. He controls them mentally, and grants them a limited amount of his powers, and memories. Often, because of the imposed personality, these clones begin to think they are the Count, and even reenact his former schemes. (Many end up in London trying to steal back their “true love”.) Tesla will later also use the alias of Doctor Leighos, but often refers to himself as Count Dracula. The Frankenstein Monster here is the original creature of Henry Frankenstein from Universal’s Frankenstein. The Wolf Man is Larry Talbot, from Universal’s Wolf Man. Geoffrey Radcliffe is the Invisible Man from Universal’s Invisible Man Returns, which is part of Universal’s Invisible Man series. Another note: Tesla casts a reflection in this film, while he cast none in previous films. This may be due to the human blood transfusions he received in his previous appearance. Also, Talbot’s cure from his previous appearance apparently didn’t take, and neither did Radcliffe’s. This film follows House of Dracula and is the final in the Universal Dracula/Frankenstein/Wolf Man franchise. The scene in this film where Lou keeps seeing the monsters move but Bud doesn’t is spoofed in The Best of Bert and Ernie, featuring the Sesame Street characters.
For more Abbott and Costello crossovers, click here.
For more Frankenstein crossovers, click here.
And you can purchase the Horror Crossover Encyclopedia by clicking here.