Wednesday, February 2, 2011
A QUICK BITE
I’ve been thinking about Dracula, specifically Bela Lugosi's portrayal of the character in the greatest horror-comedy of all-time, "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein." It dawns on me that the screenplay of that film and Lugosi's performance within it have done more to solidify Dracula's standing among monster-dom than perhaps anything else. By that I mean that it presents the bloodthirsty count as a major player who not only can wreak havoc in his own world (as in the original Lugosi "Dracula" from 1931) but is also an imposing figure on the world stage. He's not just Dracula terrorizing Transylvania; he's an ubelieveably formidible proponent of evil who can bring the entire world to its knees if not stopped.
The Dracula of "A&C Meet Frankenstein" is akin to a James Bond villain, or a major comic book megalomaniacal fiend like Superman's Lex Luthor or the Fantastic Four's Doctor Doom. Someone who is cunning, intelligent and can have legions at his beck and call at any time… and manipulate them to enact his diabolical schemes. You see this played out specifically in "Mad Monster Party" and "The Monster Squad” and countless films from around the globe, be it the classy Hammer horrors from England to the bombastic Paul Naschy monster epics from Spain, from the slapdash cult curios like Al Adamson’s “Dracula vs. Frankenstein” to the big-budget actioner “Van Helsing.” Which is quite ironic when you take into account how many “die-hard” classic monster fans despise the Abbott & Costello film as what they label the “death-knell” of the Universal Monsters.
The truth is, as I explored in my review of the film, the monsters were actually treated with respect and given a new lease on life via their encounters with Bud and Lou. And Dracula? He became the biggest baddie of them all in the process. He runs the show and strikes ultimate fear as the most evil of monsters. Which makes the heroes’ inevitable victories over him all the sweeter. Bravo, Frederic I. Rinaldo and Robert Lees (scribes behind “A&C Meet Frankenstein”) and bravo times ten to the irrepressible Bela – who at age 65 essayed the role of his most famous character with all the gusto (and maybe more so) that he did back in the original 1931 “Dracula” movie (when he was merely 48)!
oh chick part 2
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