Thursday, September 1, 2016

Young Frankenstein (1974)

Today we're officially starting the festivities with a truly legendary film. It pioneered the concept of the horror comedy and still holds up today as one of the finest works I've ever seen. Yeah, it's going to be a little hard to keep you in suspense about my final thoughts on this one, so why bother? This is a truly excellent film and the people involved in making it a reality are all amazing. And, it truly is fitting that the army of the dead just got another soldier, as yet another of these icons has now passed away.

"Son of a bitch! Bastard! I'll get you for this! What did you do to me?"

Yes, I got your messages and I wasn't ignoring them, nor was I showing apathy in regards to the death of Gene Wilder. I was actually quite distraught, finding it difficult to bring anything resembling the right words to express my sadness at his passing. I held off on writing a simple paragraph blurb to try and show my sorrow, as I knew it wouldn't be enough. It was too shallow and meager a gesture. No, he deserved more. So, here we are. Today we're going to look at one of his best films ever. Hell, it may be his best, but that's all debatable. What isn't debatable is the impact the film and the man have had on so many. Join me as I get a bit sentimental, won't you? If you do I promise I'll fix that hump on your back.

"People keep saying that, but I still don't know what they're on about."
Our tale opens as we see someone graverobbing Doctor Baron von Dracula! Okay, it's not Dracula, it's Baron von Frankenstein. It's also less graverobbing and more that his coffin is just laying in a house and this guy just wanders up and opens it. Inside is the gnarled corpse of the man himself clutching a box that our thief grabs...only to have the corpse pull it back from him. After that very brief tug-o-war, said thief then journeys to America where see our hero, Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, teaching a college class and getting quite unhappy when one student brings up his grandpappy, not to be confused with his great grandpappy who is the man who just got graverobbed.

"That box was all I had to smack necrophiliacs with. Now I guess it's just semen in the eye socket for ol' grampa."
The graverobber is apparently not really all that sinister though, as it seems he's here to inform Frederick that his great grandfather, the Baron, has left him everything back in Transylvania. Also, he took his sweet time informing him of this, apparently, as the guy was clearly quite decayed by the time he even made this little trip. I've seen fresher corpses pop out of the ground to attack punk teenagers as they hide out in a crematorium. Anyway, where was I?

Oh right, Freddy was nonchalantly trying to play off stabbing himself. I remember now. Let's continue.
Thus, our hero bids his fiance who avoids any sort of intimate contact with him farewell and travels out to check out his new stuff and, upon arrival in Transylvania, meets Igor, grandson of the original assistant to the dead-raising doctor. Now, I did glaze over a joke here, which is that due to him being ashamed of his heritage, Freddy insists people pronounce his name "Fronkensteen" rather than Frankenstein. And, I swear to you, I'm still not sure if what happens now is a result of Igor being a smartass or it's just our creators taking the piss even further, but after hearing Frederick declare how he pronounces his name, Igor declares that his name is pronounced "Eye-gor". This movie is so fucking perfect it hurts.

"If you want to see perfect fucking, you should see me in action."
After a literal roll in the hay in the back of the cart with his new assistant, Inga, they arrive at the castle and meet Frau Blücher, a woman whose name makes lighting crash and horses very much shit themselves in fright. Igor even takes to time to say her name to scare them once more, just because he's the world's best asshole. After some awkwardness where Frau Blücher seemed to not want to leave his room, he goes to sleep only to awake from a nightmare with a concerned Inga checking on him. The two find a secret entrance to his grandfather's laboratory where he becomes drawn into his work, which means that we've probably got some more graverobbery ahead of us.

Just a tiny bit though.
Our boys steal the body a dead criminal and the experimentating commences, but a small snag comes when Igor grabs a different brain after dropping the one he was sent to grab. He instead brings back a brain that was labelled "abnormal", which I'm sure won't result in anything bad. And, if that's not enough, upon bringing the new creature to life, Igor frightens it, causing it to attack Freddy. Oops. After a short confession that he snagged a brain belonging to "Abby Normal", which is a joke that still makes me laugh more than you'd think it would. Meanwhile, the locals a re a bit upset at the prospect of the grandson maybe following in his grandpappy's footsteps. Especially one Inspector Kemp, who seems like he's the unlucky forefather to Inspector Gadget.

"I may not haff zee helicopter in head but I can karate chop zee schnell of out anyvon I please!"
With the complications of the inspector sniffing about, things only get worse when Frau Blücher lets the creature loose. I mean, it's not initially all bad, as she shows he likes music...but he gets spooked by some sparks and busts out, so yeah...could've gone better. Oh yeah, and she was schtupping his grandpappy, who kinda sorta looked like him. Guess that's why she was lingering in his room earlier. She wanted to sample the dessert menu.

"Zat joke vas gross! I should arrest you!"
Few things are as terrible as a wild confused monster roaming about the countryside. I mean, how could it possibly get worse? Will he kill a small child? Frighten the peasants? Make a sitcom about a guy named Raymond that really wasn't that funny? The mind boggles at the horror that awaits us. Just imagine if his power were to fall into the wrong hands? What if someone like Lex Luthor showed up to manipulate this poor hapless creature?

Oh lord, that's Gene Hackman...well, shit.
But no, despite Hackman always kind of looking like he's about to come up with a plan to kill Superman, he's just a blind guy and all this really results in is the monster being irritated before eventually being captured by his creator. Frederick eventually calms the monster in the oddest of ways by screaming about his heritage. Sparks? Yeah, those are scary. Some guy you barely know screaming in a locked room with you? Nah, that's fine. Enough of that, let's get to the famous dance scene. It is what a lot of people remember the most about the movie, after all.

Okay, that's quite enough of that.
So, it turns out that taking a rather easily spooked monster and putting him on display to sing and dance alongside you in front of an audience might be a bad idea, because a light explodes and the creature gets upset like me when I think about Elf Bowling for too long. I just...Dingle...Kringle...it's fine...I'm fine...everything is okay...

Alright, I may still be a skosh irritated with that film existing.
The monster is taken prisoner by the police but is helped by Elizabeth, Frederick's fiance who wasn't really feeling like much physical contact earlier, who decided to come back into the plot so she could now fall in love with the monster. Why? Because he's got a big dick and fucks like a champ. I am not kidding in the least. The story races to its conclusion as the peasants all hunt the monster but Frederick has a final gambit to save the day. After luring him to the castle with violin music, he transfers some of his own intellect into the monster, allowing it to become intelligent and eloquent to the point that it then talks the crowd down from the whole murdering thing.

I just keep wondering what he keeps in the neck zipper though. Is it bus fare? A Snickers bar? I must know!
The story ends with his and Elizabeth now happily together, married as she now resembles the classic Bride of Frankenstein, and the doctor himself also gets a happy ending with Inga, his beautiful assistant. Also, he's now got a big monster dick too. No, again, I am not kidding. The intellect transference gave him a big dick like the monster. Go figure. See, Michael Bay? That's how you write a funny dick joke. Ze end!

And Igor? He mostly just likes to watch.
Overall, this is undoubtedly one of the funniest films ever made and is deserving of being considered a true classic. Even with its comedic tone, it can easily be held up next to the classic Universal monster films it spoofs as it feels just as much an homage to them as a joke built off of them. Every actor delivers great performances here, with the obvious main draw being Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman playing off one another. It's a movie that, I will admit, I always wish went on longer because I never feel tired of watching these characters. From Inga to Elizabeth, Inspector Kemp to Frau Blücher, they're all a joy to behold. I admit freely that this is easily my favourite Gene Wilder film.

"How lovely of you to say."
When he died recently, the world didn't just lose another actor or entertainer, it lost an icon. Gene Wilder's work has brought immense joy to many people's lives, myself included, and knowing that he's gone is very bittersweet. On the one hand we have lost any chance of him giving us one last beautiful performance...but on the other, I like to imagine he's now hanging out with his friends that left before him. Who knows, maybe they all gathered to give this movie a watch and relive the memories? Maybe Richard Pryor joined into and they all danced to "Puttin' on the Ritz" like a groovy gaggle of ghosts are privy to doing? I'd like to think something like that happened. For now, at the very least, we've got this movie and the legacy of the man himself to always hold onto. Ultimately, that's not so bad. Later days, bleeders.

"I can't dance anymore, I'm too tired. I'm just gonna nap here on Peter for a bit."

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