The viewing public’s reaction to Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein took Universal Studio by surprise. It was the second cheapest movie they produced that year, but was by far their biggest earner. Abbott and Costello were a known draw; they did over a dozen movies for Universal before the script for Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein came around. WWII was over, and horror movies were selecting themes suited for the Atomic Age. Universal’s collection of monsters created prior to the war years were seen as old and hokey, their franchises tired and depleted. So the studio thought they might as well squeeze the last juices out of them through a comedy farce. Not everybody liked the idea. Lou Costello was less than impressed with the writing and remarked his five-year-old daughter could write a better script. Still, the plan went ahead with the actors returning to play their original roles. All except for Karloff, who said he would help promote the movie if he didn’t have to see it. But Universal forgot about the one thing studios always forget, the love the fans held for these old ghouls. The story was thin, the laughs were easy, but the audience loved the farce and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein went on to be one of the studio’s best grossing films of 1948, ranking 27th amongst all films that came out that year. While the movie might have been a swan song for Universal’s Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Werewolf, the studio learned their lesson and the creatures are far from retired. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, while definitely a Universal picture, is considered to be outside the franchise canon. It reinforced in the public mind that a franchise-derivative film could still be considered a stand-alone. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein would go on to influence movies and television by providing a wealth of material and inspiration for crossover and self-parody.
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