Wilbur, Chic and the Gang

by Joe Coluccio, President Parsec

abbottcostellofrankenstein“How dare you resemble someone I despise?” says the passing woman as she slaps Lou Costello, who, unassuming and innocent, is waiting at the bottom of the tenement stairs for the return of Bud Abbot  You laugh, but that’s funny. Every bit as funny as The Susquehanna Hat Company and the tragedy that occurred at Niagara Falls. No bout a doubt it. I meally rean it. Bud and Lou are two of my comedy faves.

In succession, from 1948 to 1955, Abbot and Costello met the whole of the famous Universal Horrors. “Frankenstein,” “The Killer, Boris Karloff,” “The Invisible man,” “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” and “The Mummy.” Both Horror and Comedy are treated with respect in the films.

In the first of the movies Abbot (Wilbur Grey) and Costello (Chick Young) meet Frankenstein, they also meet Béla Lugosi, in the only film where he repeats his role of Dracula and Lon Chaney Jr. As Larry Talbot, The Wolf Man. “Even a man who is pure of heart, and says his prayers at night, may become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms and the moon is full and bright!” After The Wolfman and Dracula fall into the sea, and the Frankenstein Monster succumbs yet again to a fiery demise, and all is right with the world, the disembodied voice of The Invisible Man (Vincent Price) disappears as a cigarette floating in the air.

As the series progresses, the monster gag becomes a little frayed, but the happenings are always more than a ton of fun. Even when the duo meets the Mummy, which is the weakest of the five films, has a clever chase sequence with three rag wrapped Egyptian princes.

I can’t help myself. Every once in a horror I grab the entire four volume DVD set (27 seven films) of “The Best of Abbot and Costello” off the shelf and watch them all over a period of a few days. When I get to the Universal horrors, like a comedy/horror freak zombie with a weak will and a powerful sense of nostalgia, I find copies to watch of Martin and Lewis in “Scared Stiff,” Bob Hope in “The Cat and the Canary” and “The Ghost Breakers.” Even “The Three Stooges “Have Rocket Will Travel” and “in Orbit.” Finally, I celebrate Halloween watching “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Once in a particularly virulent strain of my horror/comedy disorder, I also viewed the classic, Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo blockbuster “Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla.”

I was found babbling, much as Renfield, “ Abbot and Costello try to fly to Mars and end up in New Orleans. The Stooges accidentally end up on Venus. What cruel conspiratorial creatures on Mars are clouding our minds. Were Welles and Wells right? Did I hear the news correctly? Was there a landing in Grover’s Mills this morning? I sov you low much”

Friends and family dragged me away from the TV set and put me on a strict diet of more substantial fare. Did you know there are four more Antoine Doinel movies after “The 400 Blows?”

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