In honor of Mel Brooks voicing the role of Count Dracula’s father in the upcoming Hotel Transylvania 2, I thought I would blog about one of his earlier horror comedies, Young Frankenstein. This take on the classic horror novel is about Dr. Fredrick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder), the grandson of the original mad scientist, resuming his grandfather’s experiment in reanimating the dead.
At first Dr. Frankenstein is against the idea and prefers that his name be pronounced “Fronkensteen”. I remember when I saw this movie years ago, I didn’t understand why that was. Now I see that it’s because the doctor wanted nothing to do with his family’s heritage.
Of course, fate would have it that Dr. Frankenstein inherited his great grandfather’s castle in Transylvania. Upon arrival the doctor meets Igor (Marty Feldman), who pronounces his name “Eye-gore”. Unlike other versions of Igor, this one doesn’t talk with a creepy slur and is a total goofball. His antics leave me laughing.
Dr. Frankenstein also has a lab assistant named Inga (Teri Garr). She has her funny moments too, like when the two of them find a secret passage in a bookcase. It’s hilarious when they struggle with the sensitive candle trigger while shouting, “Put the candle back!”
Inga eventually becomes Dr. Frankenstein’s love interest even though he’s already engaged to Elizabeth (Madeline Khan) a tightly wound socialite. Although Elizabeth is devoted to him, she keeps resisting his advances as though she’s taking full control of the relationship. It certainly makes you think.
An interesting running gag involves the housekeeper Frau Blucher (Cloris Leachman). Whenever anyone says her name the horses get scared. Though the reason for that is not explained, it arouses suspicion.
Eventually, Dr. Frankenstein finds his grandfather’s journal and becomes so fascinated he decides to do the experiment to reanimate a corpse of a large criminal (Peter Boyle) that was just executed. Though it’s a success, the new monster has a huge fear of fire. What I don’t understand is why no one caught on to that.
Part of that might have also had to do with the brain Igor picked out. A classic highlight includes when he mentions that the brain was from someone named Abbey Normal, even though it was really labeled “Abnormal”.
Another classic item is when Dr. Frankenstein and the monster perform Puttin’ on the Ritz. This movie was when I heard that song for the very first time, believe it or not.
Though I must point out that Young Frankenstein is a bit darker than some of the other Mel Brooks classics like Spaceballs, High Anxiety, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, and Dracula: Dead and Loving it and that this is one of few films that Mel Brooks directed that he isn’t actually in. However, it’s certainly a good one just the same.