Tag Archives: horror

Comedy Meets Horror

It is 1948. The World Health Organization was formed by the United Nations. Honda Motor Company was founded. The first stored computer program was run. And the horror film spoof, “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” brought laughs to families across the country. Although this picture brings together two very different genres of film, they seem to work flawlessly with one another. “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” brings one of Hollywood’s best comedic duos face to face with the famous monsters of Universal Studios. The film stars Bud Abbott and Lou Costello as our unlikely heroes, along with Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolfman, Bela Lugosi as Dracula and Glenn Strange as Frankenstein’s Monster.

Our story starts with two baggage clerks, Chick Young (Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (Costello), who are asked to deliver crates that contain the actual remains of Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster to the town’s “House of Horrors.” During this time, Chick and Wilbur are repeatedly warned by a Mr. Lawrence Talbot (Chaney) that these crates are trouble. In fact, Talbot makes it known to the comedic duo that these creatures are still alive. Despite his warnings, Chick and Wilbur deliver the crates that night.

When they arrive to the “House of Horrors,” the monsters escape their crates. When the owner of the house comes to inspect the crates, Wilbur and Chick are thrown in jail for suspected theft. They are released almost right away by an insurance agent, Joan Raymond (Jane Randolph), who is investigating the disappearance of the monsters and also has an interest in Wilbur.

After a few comical scenes involving the duo and the Wolf Man, it is time for the masquerade ball at the lovely Sandra Morney’s (Lenore Aubert) house. Wilbur and Chick are unaware that she has become Dracula’s aid (due to a nasty bite on the neck) and is intent on transplanting Wilbur’s brain with that of Frankenstein’s monster. Soon the moon comes out (on this night it happens to be a full moon), and Talbot who is trying to suppress and put an end to Dracula’s plan changes into the Wolf Man. Chaos ensues, when the monsters, Wilbur and Chick end up at Dr. Frankenstein’s (the man, not the monster) castle.

Throughout the film, Wilbur and Chick find themselves in constant danger. In my opinion this is the most humorous part of the film. The two are constantly, though often unaware, inches away from the monsters. They constantly escape due to pure luck, or in this case their dumb luck. The story of this film is very interesting, because the monsters are not in comedic roles like those of Wilbur and Chick, they are in the roles that they have been playing throughout all of their movies. Although they are starring in a comedy film, the monsters aren’t given a comedic twist. This is what sets this film apart from others like it; the fact that two very different genres can come together and have such chemistry is amazing.

I have seen this film countless times, from when I was a small boy to when I viewed in during a film studies class my senior year of high school, and it has also been one of my favorites and most beloved Halloween films. This film stars most of the original actors that played these monsters in their original films with the exception of Frankenstein’s monster. Boris Karloff declined to play the monster because he didn’t feel as if the monster should be portrayed in a comedy film. Although Karloff did not play the monster in this film, Strange did an excellent job continuing the legacy of Frankenstein’s monster. Lugosi and Chaney Jr. also did an excellent job returning their monsters to film and transitioning them to be portrayed in a comedy. I highly recommend this film for all ages. It is a visual masterpiece and an extraordinarily well written film. It will always be one of my favorite Halloween films of all time.

A Boy’s Best Friend is his Mother

The year is 1960. The first Birth Control pill was put on the market. John Kennedy won the presidential election and became the 35th US President of the United States. Madagascar gained its independence from France. And Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” terrified audiences across the nation. “Psycho” is considered by many one of Hitchcock’s greatest works; it is often regarded as one of the greatest horror movies of all time. Shot and produced on a very low budget (about $800,000), “Psycho” was deliberately made to look as if it were a very cheap exploitation film, starring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin, and Martin Balsam.

The audience is immediately thrown into a shady hotel room where two lovers, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin), are forced to meet in secret due to complications with Sam’s recent divorce. Sam is a struggling business owner and Marion is what seems to be an innocent office worker; and both of them just want to get married, but they lack enough money. This all changes when a rather wealthy insurance customer walks into the business for which Marion currently works. The man is buying a property worth the likes of $40,000, enough money that would help Sam pay off the alimony payments from his divorce with just enough left over for the two to leave town.

Marion is instructed by her boss to take the money down to the bank so that it can stored in a safe place while the transaction takes place. As one can imagine, Marion has other thoughts in her head and she ends up taking the money, all $40,000, and skips town.

After a few scenes of driving, we see her asleep in her car with a police officer standing at her window (this is a common theme in Hitchcock movies: the paranoia of police). Marion instantly believes that he suspects her of theft, and she eventually in a rather flustered way gets the officer to let her drive away. For the next few scenes, the officer is seen following her and even watches her intently as she frantically purchases a used car.

Marion is now frightened and hysterical, so she decides to stop at a rundown old motel, The Bates Motel. She is soon met by a nice young man, the caretaker and owner of the motel, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). The viewer can tell that Marion believes that there is something wrong with Bates, after learning of his passion for taxidermy and hearing Mrs. Bates, Norman’s mother yelling at him. She soon seems to warm up to Bates, even feeling a little sorry for him. Marion even suggests that Norman try and move his motel to a more populous place near the main highway.

After Marion leaves for her cabin, we see Bates spying on her getting ready for her shower. We now witness one of the most iconic scenes in Hollywood history; a mysterious figure slashes Marion in the shower, killing her in the process. Hitchcock designed this scenes in an artistic manner. There is never an instance of the blade slashing skin, as we see in many modern horror films. There is also no gore and very little blood. Also, the classic score used in this scene added emphasis to the murder, almost acting as another character in the film.

Shortly after, Bates discovers the body and is taken back by the site. He seems to be confused about what to do at first, but then he decides it is best to clean up the scene of the crime by disposing of the evidence.

Marion’s sister, Lila Crane (Vera Miles), becomes suspicious when she learns of her sister’s disappearance and hires a private detective, Detective Arbogast (Martin Balsam). Soon, Arbogast turns up missing as well, so Lila and Sam are forced to get to the bottom of this. They learn some creepy truths of the Bates Motel and the Bates Family from the local sheriff. Because of this information they decide to make their way to the motel to see what is going on.

One of the greatest horror films of all time, “Psycho” doesn’t disappoint when it comes to thrills, mystery, suspense, and sheer horror. Many consider this a masterpiece by Hitchcock, and I would have to agree with that statement. The audience is frightened not by blood, gore, and jump scares as modern audiences are, but by the creepiness of the black and white film, the chilling dialogue, and terrifying character portrayals.

Overall, “Psycho” is a visual masterpiece and will continue to scare audiences for years to come.