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Sep 232015

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.

Mar 292013

Comedic sci-fi features are pretty rare, but those have been my most favorite kind, which include Mom and Dad Save the World. At the edge of the galaxy, there’s a small planet called Spengo, where all of the inhabitants are highly unintelligent and under the rule of ruthless Emperor Todd Spengo (Jon Lovitz). His goal is to fire a death ray in order to destroy the planet Earth. Oddly, its most vulnerable spot is Woodland Hills, California. I don’t why that is.

As Todd observes Woodland Hills from his fortress, he finds an Earth woman named Marge Nelson (Teri Garr) and falls in love with her. Marge is a hard core vacationer, but her husband Dick (Jeffery Jones) struggles to keep up with her, mainly because of his constant back, neck, and stomach problems.

While driving toward yet another destination, Todd uses a magnetic beam to bring Marge and Dick to Spengo. Even in outer space, Marge can’t resist taking pictures everywhere she goes, just like a tourist.

As Todd makes his moves on Marge, Dick is thrown in the dungeon. There he meets Raff (Eric Idle), who used to be the king of Spengo. All Dick has to do is escape and get word to Raff’s son Sirk (Dwier Brown) in order to fight Todd and save both Earth and Spengo. Despite Dick’s ailments, his love for Marge is what gives him the extra boost he needs to get to her. I guess love does conquer all.

Spengo has quite a few different types of creatures like bulldog men, fish women, and wild mushrooms that appear cute, but are psychotically hungry. Now there’s a more accurate relation to the Goombas from the Super Mario Bros. video games.

Soon Dick finds Sirk and his lovely sister Semage (Kathy Ireland), leading a tribe called the White Birds. It doesn’t take much for Dick to win them over. However, the tribe isn’t too bright either. Dick is their only hope to lead them to victory.

One of the funniest weapons featured is the light grenade. You just pull the pin, set it down, and anyone who picks it up disappears because it reads “Pick me up”. It sounds stupid, but it’s very affective. That makes how many soldiers vanished?

It all comes down to an exciting battle inside the fortress, along with a hilarious fight between Dick and Todd in an effort to save Marge and the Earth.

This was a good sci-fi comedy. Dick really grew as a person during his adventure on Spengo, which made him an unlikely hero.