"Instead of being my deliverance, she had a strange resemblance to a cat named…"
20th Century Fox, 1974, 106 minutes, PG
actors: Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Teri Garr, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Kennith Mars, Madeline Kahn
writers: Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks
director: Mel Brooks
Taxonomy: Loving gothic horror spoof flick.
Plot: Baron von Frankenstein’s grandson returns to Transylvania and picks up where gramps left off.
Bluntly: Unquestionably the best horror spoof ever!
When Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder), an eminent surgeon and professor of medicine, who is so ashamed of his mad grandfather’s acts that he passionately insists that his name is pronounced “Fronkensteen,” learns that he is the sole heir of his grandfather’s estate, he zips off to Transylvania to check it all out. This does not sit well with his betrothed Elizabeth (Madeline Kahn), but such is life.
Once at Gramp’s old castle, Freddy meets his staff. Igor(Marty Feldman), a hunchback with a moving hump who is so amused at Frederick’s insecurity that he insists that his name is pronounced “Eyegor” and proceeds to refer to his new boss as “Froderick.” Inga (Teri Garr) a cute blond who is soon falling for Frederick. And Frau Blucher (Cloris Leachman), an old crone the mere mention of who’s name upsets horses and who we soon learn had a fling with Freddy’s gramps.
Well, Freddy soon finds his grandfather’s medical library and reads his experimental journal entitled “How I Did It.” After a night of frenzied reading Frederick exclaims, “IT…COULD…WORK!” Seems Frederick does not think that his grandpappy was all that nuts anymore and he, Igor and Inga plan to carry on with Baron von Frankenstein’s work.
Before you can say Boris, Frederick and Igor are robbing graves and setting up all the wonderful electrical equipment in grandpappy’s lab. I have read reports on the internet that the sets used in this flick were original leftovers from the Universal Frankenstein and other monster movies. I have not been able to confirm this, but the sets and props are great! The rooms are huge and all the crackly sparky electric lab equipment looks better than it did in many of the old flicks! That is one of the cool things about this movie, it looks like it had a bigger budget.
Igor has a little mishap while stealing a brain for Frederick’s creation and has to settle for an abnormal brain instead of the one Frederick wanted, that of Hans Delbruck, “scientist and saint.” In fact, there was a real Hans Delbruck. He was a historian who specialized in military history and how it was related to politics and economics. I guess the scientist and saint thing is sarcasm.
On a dark and stormy night, naturally, Frederick, Igor and Inga try to bring their creature to life. It don’t work. Frederick says that they should face defeat with, “Quiet dignity and grace.” He then flips out and starts to strangle the body screaming, “Son of a bitch! Bastard! I’ll get you for this! What did you do to me!? What did you do to me!? I do not want to live!”
Cut to the town hall in the village below the castle. The place is full of angry villagers who want Fredericks blood. One of the town elders states, “We still have nightmares from five times before!” This is a reference to the five Universal Frankenstein films! We are then introduced to the fantastically silly character of Inspector Hans Wilhelm Friedrich Kemp, player brilliantly by veteran character and voice actor Kennith Mars. Inspector Kemp is my favorite character in the flick. He is an over-the-top stereotypical provincial German policeman who likes to strike dramatic poses, wears a monocle over his eye patch and speaks in such a strong German accent that even the other villagers do not understand him half the time! He also has an articulated wooden arm that is used to great physical humor effect. This character is a parody of the Burgomeister from The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) who has his arm ripped of by the monster.
Hey guess what kiddies! The monster is alive! Never saw that coming did ya? The monster is played by Peter Boyle with wonderful style that makes us feel fear and sympathy much like Boris Karloff did, but with more humor. Of course he gets lose and goes on a rampage – three times! During which we are treated to great parodies of famous scenes from Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of Frankenstein. There is the famous scene where the monster meets a little girl throwing flowers in a lake and the scene where the monster comes across a poor blind hermit. This scene is just a riot with great physical humor from Boyle and an uncredited Gene Hackman who plays Harold the hermit. And when the monster abducts Elizabeth we get to witness perhaps the funniest sex scene ever!
Well, Frederick tries to get everyone to understand that the creature is not evil and can be like other people, but that don’t work! We do get to see a swell dance number though! Villagers storm the castle, with torches and pitchforks natch, even using Kemp’s false arm as a battering ram! Frederick tries one last desperate attempt to make the creature a normal person and…Nope, not going any farther! If you have not seen this flick, I don’t want to spoil the end.
Sleazeploitation: Some great sex humor between Wilder, Garr and Feldman as well as between Boyle and Kahn.
Beasts, Freaks and Weirdoes: Boyle’s monster, Inspector Kemp and of course Marty Feldman.
Violence: Very little and done with silliness in mind.
Gore & F/X: Actually there are some good effects and a couple of yucky props, but certainly no gore.
Great Lines: The following quotes are presented without context cues. You just have to see the flick to see where they fit! Ha!
Frederick Frankenstein: “Hearts and kidneys are tinker toys! I’m talking about the central nervous system!” “My grandfather’s work was doo-doo!”
Inga: “Vould you like a rrroll in ze hay? It’s fun! Rrroll, roll roll in ze hay!”
Inga: “Werewolf!” Frederick: “Werewolf!?” Igor: “There.” Frederick: “What?” Igor: “There wolf; there castle.”
Frederick: “What knockers!” Inga: “Oh! Sank you doktor.”
Inga: “Put ze candle beck!”
Igor: “Two nasty looking switches over here, but I’m not going to be the first.”
Frederick: “Damn your eyes!” Igor “Too late!”
Inga: “He vould haf an enormous schwanzstucker!” Frederick: “That goes without saying.” Igor: “He’s going to be very popular.”
Frederick: “What a filthy job!” Igor: “Could be worse.” Frederick: “How?” Igor: “Could be raining.”
Igor: “Abby someone.” Frederick: “Abby someone? Abby who?” Igor: “Abby Normal.”
Inspector Kemp: “Vee hadt better confeerm ze fact dat yunk Frankeschtein is indeed vollowing een ees grandfadda’s vootschtops!” Villagers: “What?” Inspector Kemp: “Vollowing in his grandfadda’s vootschtops. Vootschtops, vootschtops!” Villagers: “Oh, footsteps!”
Little girl’s father: “Ven monsters are loose, boards must be tight!”
Harold the hermit: “I was going to make espresso!” This was ad-libbed by Gene Hackman!
Moral: Fire is our friend.
Wow! Young Frankenstein is the best gothic horror spoof ever made – period! The writing is great, the physical humor top notch and the film was made in the same great black and white style as the films it parodys. It is obvious that Wilder and Brooks love the old Universal horror flicks. There are little in jokes and references to these earlier films all throughout the flick.
If you have not seen Young Frankenstein…have you been living in a cave? Anyway, there is no excuse not to see this movie, Comedy Central has been running it every Halloween for years now! But I would recommend getting the Special Edition DVD. You need to see this flick unedited and the DVD has some nice extras like deleted scenes, interviews and a documentary.
Is this Mel Brooks’ best film? Many say yes. I admit I am torn between Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles, but in the end, you will laugh your ass off to either!
Highly recommended, especially during Halloween season.
Not your Grandfadda’s bier!
The Kaiser: Imperial Oktoberfest Lager
Avery Brewing Company
Boulder, Colorado, USA
Imperial Oktoberfest Lager? Okay, an Oktoberfest lager is a variant on traditional Munich style lager that emphasizes sweet smooth maltiness over sharp hop bitter flavors. Not surprisingly, this style originated during Oktoberfest celebrations in Germany. The Imperial part? Remember when I told you about Imperial Russian Stout? No? What a surprise. Imperial simply means that the flavors and alcohol content are intensified.
ABV: 8.90% IBU: 25
Color: A deep honey amber, almost, but not quite, red.
Aroma: Soft honey and caramel notes highlighting the malt and downplaying the hops.
Head: Small bubbled, tight, cream colored and persistent. A very attractive beer.
Taste: The taste starts off with a smooth rich malty sweetness that gently turns to a slightly sour middle and then moves to a smoothly bitter finish and a light short hoppy aftertaste. This beer is a very good example of the Oktoberfest style. The flavors do not jump out at you or try to out compete each other. This beer has very nice balance with the sour and bitter elements seeming to slowly rise up under the malt sweetness yet never becoming overpowering. Hopheads will not think it has enough zap, but those who can appreciate a well crafted mild sweet beer should be happy.
Recommendation: The Kaiser is a good American version of a traditional Munich Oktoberfest lager that should appeal to anyone who likes European amber lagers and would be a great introduction to the style. Recommended.
One more thing, all beers should be decanted to fully appreciate their characteristics. If you just drink straight out of the bottle or can you are missing much of what the brewers worked so hard to create. Sometimes this can’t be helped. No glasses at ballgames, ya know. But when drinking a beer as pretty as The Kaiser you owe it to yourself to pour it into a good clear glass. Hold it up to the light, check the color, swirl it a little, admire the head and aroma, then breath in while you tip the glass up to drink so you can get the aroma and taste together. When you drink, don’t do the little timid sip, quaff it baby! You’ll be glad you did!
Well folks, you all have a safe and happy Halloween! Be good to the little weeners or BigRuta might come and drink all your beer!
Remember: Comments, questions, suggestions and requests always welcome.