The Lighter Side of Boo

With Halloween closing in, horror films become the trend in most DVD players around the country. This year, rather than jump into the thriller, edge-of-your-seat, spine-tingling, monster-on-the-loose flick, I decided to go light. I thought about some films that I enjoyed on the lighter side of ghoulishness.

Mel Brooks had a number of hit films in his career. Most recently his Broadway adaption of The Producers became a huge hit. However, Mel is never better than when he teams up with Gene Wilder. Young Frankenstein is no exception. This classic involves Gene Wilder in the leading role as Dr. Frankenstein (pronounced Frank-in-steen), son of the infamous and now deceased Dr. Frankenstein (pronounced the traditional way–the movie makes a joke out of it). Young Dr. Frankenstein returns to his father’s castle and meets up with Igor (Marty Feldman) who helps him resurrect the Monster (Peter Boyle). This film takes many scenes from the original Universal Boris Karloff film Frankenstein (1931) and the Son of Frankenstein (1939) and turns them on their head. Add in some Mel Brooks insanity, a dance number at the end, an incredibly talented group of actors, and you have a classic laugh-fest.

One of the most successful comic duos in the history of films is Abbott and Costello. Their box-office take from a long string of hit films saved Universal Pictures from bankruptcy. Unfortunately, by the mid-forties their box-office clout began to wane. Then, came Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). This entry into the horror genre was a departure for the duo but it became one of their biggest grossing pictures. This film drops the boys into the middle of a fight between Larry Talbot/Wolfman (Lon Chaney, Jr.) and Dracula (Bela Lugosi). Dracula wants to restore the Frankenstein Monster to life and conquer the world while Larry Talbot wants to destroy Dracula and the Monster. Chases and high jinks follow. The film’s humor is definitely dated and is more appreciated than laughed at, but it ranks on many lists as one of the funniest horror/comedies of all time. Yet, for film buffs, this film is remarkable. It brings together Lon Chaney, Jr. who originally played the Wolfman in Universal’s The Wolfman (1941) and Bela Lugosi, the original Dracula, reprises the role for the last time.

Love at First Bite (1979) stars George Hamilton as an outdated Count Dracula. He’s evicted from his home in Transylvania and decides to travel to America. It is the later third of the 20th century and Dracula needs some new moves. He falls in love with Cindy (Susan Saint James), a neurotic mass of conflicting impulses. While the Count tries to woo her, Cindy’s psychiatrist, Dr. Rosenberg (Richard Benjamin), reveals that he is the grandson of Fritz Van Helsing and he will stop at nothing to kill Dracula. The rest of the film is a series of inept, hilarious encounters between the two rivals. I loved this film as a kid and I thought the humor still holds up well thirty years later.

If you are looking for something light to chase away the demons on Halloween night, any of the previously mentioned films might fill the void.

Author Mike Chisholm is the founder and head writer for U.S.HistoryReport.com.

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