Thursday, June 16, 2011


Mel Brooks, 1974
Starring: Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr, Kenneth Mars

I was going to start this review off by talking about how Young Frankenstein stars the great Gene Wilder -- and he is great -- but upon reflection, so is everyone else in this film. Arguably Mel Brooks's best work and certainly the best horror spoof ever made, this is one of those films that, if you haven't seen it, I demand you stop reading and go watch it, immediately.

Wilder stars as Dr. Frankenstein (pronounced "Frahnk-en-steen,"), a brilliant scientist who gives impassioned lectures at an undisclosed American medical school. When a strange man contacts him about his grandfather's will, he is forced to return to Europe, despite his deep disdain for his grandfather's attempts at science -- reviving the dead -- which he regards as ridiculous superstition. He sadly parts with his fiancee, the vain Elizabeth, and is soon greeted by Igor, a servant descended from his grandfather's famous hunchbacked henchman. They also meet with Ilsa, a sexy lab assistant, and Frau Blucher, caretaker of the castle. After a series of disturbing dreams, Frankenstein discovers his grandfather's hidden laboratory and notebooks and embarks on an attempt to recreate the famous Frankenstein monster. Of course this goes wrong and the monster escapes. When the townspeople get a whiff of what's happened and his fiancee arrives, all hell breaks loose. Can he find the monster and put things right before it's too late?

Co-written by Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder, this is one of the funniest films I've ever seen, though it does help to have a familiarity with the Universal Frankenstein films, as it references both Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and some of the lesser sequels -- plus it was shot on some of the same set, amazingly enough.

It's really difficult for me not to ruin any of the jokes by quoting them incessantly, so I'm going to quit while I'm ahead. Needless to say, there's a ton of brilliant humor in the film. It's widely available on DVD in a cheap region 1 from 20th Century Fox.

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