Thursday, 3 January 2013

A MONSTER COMEDY HIT...



It was 1973 and I had a Saturday job working in a CO-OP store in a far
away neighbourhood.  From about 8 a.m. 'til 12.30 p.m. I'd toil away for
either £1 or £1.50 (I can no longer recall the precise amount), which went
towards feeding my comics dependency of the time.  Trouble was, before I
had taken this job, I had gotten into the habit of watching old black and
white movies on Saturday morning TV, like OLD MOTHER RILEY
MEETS THE VAMPIRE and various other comedies of that ilk.


One Friday evening, I was torn over whether I should take a sickie
as ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN was the movie
being shown the next morning, and it was one I'd wanted to see for quite
some while, having previously caught a clip of it at some stage.  In the end,
my conscience won out (to say nothing of my need for money) and off
I dutifully trotted to work, 'though not without deep reservations.


Cut to around 12 or 13 years later (and another house away), and I
eventually got to see the movie on TV one evening, finally fulfilling the
ambition of almost half my life before at that point.  It's a great little movie
(despite BELA LUGOSI's undead Count casting a reflection in a mirror),
and it gave actor GLENN STRANGE more screen time as the monster
than in any of his two previous appearances in HOUSE OF FRANKEN-
STEIN and HOUSE OF DRACULA from a few years before.


(Incidentally, LON CHANEY JR filled in for Strange in one scene
when he injured his foot, meaning that Chaney plays two monsters
in the movie, the other of course being the WOLFMAN.)


I've watched it quite a few times since then, having bought it when
it was released on video and then on DVD.  If you haven't seen it before,
it really is well worth checking out.  Whenever I view it again, I can't help
but be reminded of my Saturday morning job in the Co-op and the smell
of cold ham from the meat counter.  Glenn Strange was still alive in 1973
(he died in September that year), so I always kind of regret not seeing
the movie when I first had the chance, nearly 40 years ago.

11 comments:

moonmando said...

I remember staying up late one night to watch the late,late horror movie,which was on close to the witching hour,probably close to midnight.A time when most sensible people,at any rate,were safely ensconsed in their beds.This will probably seem strange to many of the younger generation who think nothing of staying up in to the wee small hours,having wall to wall 24hr T.V!...When i was a nipper though, it was inconceivable to be staying up way beyond midnight,without good reason,only having three channels,...and even they stopped broadcasting just before the ungodly hour,with a God save the Queen and a warning to remember and switch everything off.
It seems that the younger generation are ony just starting to come alive at the point.
Anyway,i digress...What i do remember is staying up late to watch an old Dracula film,possibly starring Bella Lugosi.You know the one,that starts with the old prop plane circling the globe with the RKO antennae sitting on top of the world radiating its message of gory gloom to the world.That alone was enough to send the shivers radiating up my spine.Anyway,no more than ten minutes into the film i remember being so scared to go upstairs to use the toilet that i simply stood behind our couch and wet myself,such was the terror that this horror story instilled in me.
Laughable no doubt nowadays,but back then these films really scared the bejusus out of our gullible young minds.
Incidentally,i drove home tonight and noticed an Ad on the side of a local bus,advertising the latest gorefest,"Texas Chainsaw Massacre jn 3D".It surely is a far cry from the stuff that frightened me as a toung lad back in the sixties.
No wonder i yearn for the old days....

Kid said...

'Don't Watch Alone' was the STV title which covered all those old black and white movies shown on a Friday night (I think) back in the early '70s. There were Universal and Hammer movies (the colour ones) and they certainly sent a shiver down the spine of many a teenager (and adult) in the small hours of the morning. "And don't forget to switch off your set - and unplug it from the socket" came the announcer's softly-spoken voice, trying to cajole whatever sense of calm (if any) to the fore that might have remained in the bowels of our souls.

Can't say I ever p*shed myself 'though, unlike you, who seems to have done a lot of that in your younger days. Just think, you've got all that to look forward to again in your dotage - losing control of your bladder as you get older and older. Maybe you should change your 'Moonmando' avatar to 'Mr Pishy' just in case.

Never mind, I'll buy you a big pair of incontinence pants for your Christmas next year. Hee hee.

baab said...

I was allowed to sit with my mother for Don't Watch Alone.
I think some may have been double bills,or all of them.

Frankenstein blew my tiny mind into smithereens (I must have been about eight years old)
Draculas Daughter,not a scary or even a good movie had an effect on me,
I think the sets were either the same or very close for the opening of Draculas daughter and the end of Dracula.

House of Frankenstein was a smoother movie after the earlier Universal stuff and was one of my favourites.

Oh! that saturday morning movie time.
The one which stands out for me was The Ghost Train with Arthur Askey.I dont know why and logic lends itself to many many many others,but this was a strange one.

My dad did promote Abbott and Costello to us though and a season of their movies was always wonderful.

Well thats opened up the memory box,at this moment I feel as if I have lived for a good hundred years already,thats bizarre.


Kid said...

I remember Ghost Train as well - a classic, which I've always enjoyed. Must buy it on DVD in fact.

Dougie said...

Don't Watch Alone was definitely STV's Friday night horror slot in the early 70s. I remember my dad letting me stay up to watch the first Hammer Dracula. It would have been around 11pm, I think. I would have been 9 or 10 so, 1972-73.

Other films in that slot included The Gorgon, Terror of the Tongs, Son of Dracula and The Curse of the Fly ( unforgettable opening sequence!). STV used the original cinema trailers to promote the films, I think.

baab, the double bills were on BBC2, starting in 1975 ( although that season included Barbarella & This Island Earth) and running every summer 'til 1981. The best remembered is probably 1980 which got the Radio Times front cover that June for Night of the Demon and The Ghoul.

baab said...

Dougie,thats brilliant.
It has also furnished me with the age i would have been when I encouraged my nana to allow me to watch Barbarella in its entirety!

I saw Cat Ballou at the local cinema when it was on release and have a soft spot for Jane Fonda and her lookalikes ever since.


I had a wee look for the release dates for Cat Ballou and it is 1965.
I would have been one year old!

They must have sent it out as a double bill in the seventies.
My mother must have took us very often.

Dougie said...

baab, I think the 1975 screening of Barbarella was its second outing on tv. I have a vague memory of it being shown one weekday night after Last of the Summer Wine. My dad sent me to bed (!) so I think that was 1973.

Anyway, I didn't see it until sometime after 1979, when I had read a plot summary in Star Wars Weekly.

Joe S. Walker said...

The advice to unplug your set wasn't being fussy - TV sets used to be potentially quite dangerous things. An early memory of mine is of the family watching at teatime when flames suddenly shot up out the top of the box, and the living room ceiling being blackened after the firemen had left.

Quentin Tarantino has said that as a kid, he thought Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein was the best movie ever.

Kid said...

Indeed, Joe - and it's probably still good advice today.

As for A&C meet F, it's certainly a belter.

Anonymous said...

Glenn Strange may be best known for playing Sam the bartender on "Gunsmoke," but his image as Frankenstein's Monster is iconic. It is usually Strange, not Karloff, that you see in merchandising (toys, model kits). In fact, the New York Times even mistakenly ran a photo of Strange as the Monster with Karloff's obituary in 1969. BTW, Strange appeared as a hulking monster in the Bowery Boys comedy "Master Minds" in 1949. It was basically an unofficial remake of A&C Meet Frankenstein. The mad scientist, played by Alan (Batman's butler Alfred) Napier, transfers Sach's mind into the monster, and vice versa. Strange then prances around in a very good imitation of Huntz Hall's rubbery movements. Pretty funny stuff.

Kid said...

Actually, 'though an oft-repeated claim, it's actually a bit of a misconception about Strange's image being used for toys and model kits more than Karloff's. While it's true that Strange's face adorns the box art of the Aurora model, it's kind of an amalgam of Strange and Karloff, as it features the spikes (or 'horns') only seen on Karloff's test make-up before it was finalised. (It is based on a publicity still of Strange 'though.)

However, the face of the actual model is definitely Boris as he appeared in The Bride of Frankenstein, and the same face was used for the Frankenstein's Flivver model. There was a 5 inch plastic figure by Louis Marx which featured Strange's face, but even the Aurora Big Frankie kit had a face modelled after Karloff in BOF. (Although the box art was based on Strange.) Also, the tin wind-up Frankenstein was also clearly Boris.

Rubber masks have tended to resemble Strange more than Karloff, but whether they were actually specifically based on Strange or were merely 'generic' representations of the Monster is open to question in some instances.

Overall, whenever a toy or model has been based on a specific actor, in my experience Boris's image has been used more often than Glenn's. (Not counting the Sideshow articulated figure which was based on Strange - although they also did three Karloff figures from his three Frankenstein movies.)

As for newspapers, they still get it wrong even today, and often mistake Glenn for Boris whenever they print a photo of the Monster in connection with BK. That's newspapers for you. Although, it has to be said, in some stills, when the light hit his face in just the right way, Strange was occasionally almost a dead ringer for Karloff. I assume that's why they used him, and not just for his height (6'5").

Thanks for commenting.