Young Frankenstein (1974)

Young Frankenstein, 1974, directed by Mel Brooks

5 straight horror films in a row call for a change in tone, lest we go to bed every night afraid of the dark.  And 1974’s Young Frankenstein – one of Pop Teez’s favorite comedies ever – is just what the doctor ordered.

A particularly successful homage to/parody of the iconic Universal Monster pictures – specifically the Frankenstein pictures, duh! – of the 1930s is the best looking movie Mel Brooks ever made. It is due, at least partially, to the decision to film in black and white.  But we at Pop Teez believe that Brooks’ attention to getting the soundstage and prop details close to the Universal Frankenstein pictures of the 1930s not only helps, but even highlights how beautiful those original films were.  Those films were equally inspired, visually, by the dark German Expressionist films of the 1920s and by the gothic look of europe itself.

And though it’s the last film Brooks directed in which Brooks himself did not play an onscreen role, it is cast perfectly; Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Madeleine Kahn, Teri Garr, Peter Boyle’s Monster are all fantastically memorable and funny creations.   But it is the late Gene Wilder’s (second most) iconic performance (his Willy Wonka is simply “un-top-able”) that is the lynchpin to the entire flick.

A man who, by simply trying to escape his past, becomes consumed by the very  horribly insane family legacy he was trying to escape, only to return to sanity long enough to save the day by giving up some of that very sanity (whew!), Wilder’s Dr. Frederick (not Froderick) Frankenstein was already a sympathetic character adding that drop of sadness to the mostly silly proceedings. His recent passing only magnifies the melancholy.   

Though it borrows/parodies heavily from both of the first two films in the Universal Frankenstein series (aka yesterday’s Creature Double Feature, watching the Bride of Frankenstein before watching this loving homage will help the jokes land even a little deeper.

Eminently quotable, clever sight gags and an atmosphere that captures just enough of the old Universal 30s pictures (what is it about 1930s hollywood that it just feels right to call the “pictures”?) – with just a slight hint of the creeps (one suspects Leachman’s Frau Blucher may be related to High Anxiety’s iron fisted Nurse Diesel) – make this a perfect viewing for day 5 of our Poptober Halloween festival.

And you’re welcome for stuffing this synopsis with some overly packed and confusing sentences.  Now, which side is that hump on again?

A bonus if you can still get tickets to see it tonite (10-05-2016) in a local movie  theater complete with live introduction from Mel Brooks in Los Angeles (http://fathomevents.com/#event/young-frankenstein/more-info/details).  The 91 year old Brooks is still a trip.

Dr. Vorhees