Monster Kid #3

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We all remember when Abbott and Costello met Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Dracula, the Invisible Man, The Mummy and even Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But do you remember when Abbott and Costello met The Creature? Yes, it really did happen, not on the big screen but on live television shortly before the release of Universal's 3-D classic THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. Dan Johnson gives Monster Kid readers his assessment of Abbott and Costello's monster romps and interviews the Creature himself, Ben Chapman, about his historic meeting with the famed funnymen.

Bud and Lou's first and best meeting with classic monsters, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, which also featured Dracula and The Wolf Man.

After failing to do the team in when they met The Killer, Karloff tries again as Dr. Jekyll, the straight man of a different sort of duo.

If you hang around with die-hard fans of classic Universal Horror films long enough, there are certain debates that are sure to surface. One topic that is certain to make fans draw up sides is the series of films which pitted Universal's top comedy team, Abbott and Costello against the studio's classic Monsters. There are a number of horror purists who feel that the "Abbott and Costello Meet..." films demeaned the classic monsters and cheapened their images. They dislike seeing the great horror characters reduced to playing straight men for the comedy team. Other horror enthusiasts enjoy these films just as much as the serious horror outings and feel that, even with the antics of Abbott and Costello, the monsters prove they can still pack a punch.

I am among those fans who has a great deal of affection for the "Abbott and Costello Meet..." films where the boys matched wits with the likes of the Frankenstein Monster, the Invisible Man and the Mummy, although the films run the gauntlet from bonafide classic (A&C Meet Frankenstein) to watchable but forgettable (A&C Meet the Mummy).Also, I have found that these movies make wonderful introductions to the world of classic horror films for many of the small fry out there.

Mummy's boys Bud and Lou met the eerie Egyptian in their last movie for Universal

The healthy mix of terror and laughs can be an excellent way to introduce young children to the eerie world that was created on the backlot at Universal's "Little Europe."

To put these films in their historical perspective, Abbott and Costello's horror/comedies are some of the team's best known efforts today. Abbott and Costello aficionados acknowledge that the better of these films represent the last big screen triumphs for the legendary comics whose career had begun to sag before teaming with the monsters. More importantly to horror buffs, these movies provided a last, glorious hurrah for the classic Universal Monsters before moving aside for the new wave of science fiction thrillers like Tarantula, This Island Earth and The Incredible Shrinking Man. Meeting Abbott and Costello gave our favorite monsters one last moment in the spotlight before gothic beasties were replaced by atomic terrors.

"Lou, The Invisible Man is here!"
"Tell him I can't see him, Bud."

Ironically, while many of the classic monsters of the 1930's and 1940's, made their final appearances with Abbott and Costello, the boys helped to introduce one of Universal's greatest creations of the 1950's. On Sunday, February 21, 1954 Abbott and Costello hosted NBC's Colgate Comedy Hour. In a live comedy sketch, devised to promote Universal's newest monster, America witnessed the brief but memorable meeting of Abbott and Costello and the Creature from the Black Lagoon

Ben Chapman as the Creature from
the Black Lagoon, who would soon
take his place among Universal's
famous gallery of classic monsters.

The sketch began with the two comics arriving at Universals' creepy prop department to get some items for that evening's show. Visible amid the items in the background are figures of Mr. Hyde and a human mouse from A&C's last horror outing. Abbott goes off hunting for the props they'll need for their TV performance and Costello is left alone among the spooky displays in a routine somewhat reminiscent of the scene in McDougal's House of Horrors from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. First Lou is the victim of an inkwell that moves around on its own, then a cigarette floats away as if it is being carried by the Invisible Man as Lou gives the audience his typical fraidy cat performance.

The climax of the sketch comes as Lou starts to read from Universal's latest horror script while seated beside a long wooden box. As Lou reads of a monster coming to life and emerging from a long box, the Frankenstein Monster (played by Glenn Strange) lifts the creaking lid. When Lou is turned the other way, the Monster gets out of a crate and starts to creep behind Lou. Unaware of his 'shadow,' Costello greets Abbott as he walks back into the prop department, but Bud promptly runs away in terror as he sees the monster.

Lou cracks up when a sound effect is off cue. Good
thing Glenn Strange could hide his smile beneath
the mask prepared for him by Universal's make-up
department for live appearances as The Monster


Puzzled by Abbott's reaction, Costello finally realizes that someone (or something) is behind him. His fear builds and when he turns around he is face to face with the Frankenstein Monster. But Costello's looks frighten the Monster even worse than he had frightened Lou and he collapses backward into the crate.

Lou laughs so hard as this, he fails to notice that the mysterious box he had been curious about all evening has burst open behind him. The audience gasps as the startling image of the Creature from the Black Lagoon strides towards Costello. As he tuns to share the joke with his new companion, Lou's laughter hilariously dissolves into sobs and he sinks to the floor at the webbed feet of the Creature.

Funnyman Lou Costello about
to meet finnyman Ben Chapman.

Continued on page 2