Super Mates 82: House of Franklin-Stein Part 1

Come back to The House of Franklin-Stein! The spooks are after Bud & Lou…and Chris & Cindy! It’s an all-time classic: Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (and the Wolf Man, and Dracula!) With Chaney, Lugosi and Strange!

Then it’s over to the comic vault of horror to review Super Friends #28 (1979), featuring the World’s Greatest Super Heroes vs. a monster rally all their own: Solomon Grundy! Bizarro! Man-Bat! Etrigan the Demon! Swamp Thing!

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Clip credits:

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein directed by Charles T. Barton; music by Frank Skinner

Opening wedding march by Marc Shaiman from Addams Family Values

World’s Greatest Super Friends theme and incidental mustic by Hoyt Curtain

“(It’s A) Monster’s Holiday” by Buck Owens

34 responses to “Super Mates 82: House of Franklin-Stein Part 1

  1. House of Franklinstein being back is, IMO, the only good thing about summer being over.

    I don’t need to go into my love for A&C Meet Frankenstein, other than restating that stunt where the Monster throws what’s her name through a window is about the greatest piece of stunt work I have ever seen in a movie, and the fact that it was all done in one shot, not faked, for a silly A&C comedy says something about seriously director Charles Barton took his job. It’s a shame he never got tapped to direct an actual Universal horror film, he clearly had the knack, instead the studio kept giving the gigs to a lot of hacks who clearly just looked at the gig like just another movie to grind out.

    I don’t know why women seem to hate Dr Phibes so much, but they do. Fine then, Chris and I will form the Dr Phibes Admiration Society. Membership #: 2.

    I remember seeing the ad for that issue of Super Friends and it got my blood racing—what a match up! Like Chris, I was more than a little disappointed that those weren’t the “real” monster characters, even if Swamp Thing and Man-Bat weren’t really bad guys. Oh well.

    Love the show, as always. You guys sound like you’re having a blast.

    1. Fall means House of Franklin-Stein, Halloween, and soon, I won’t have to mow the yard, which is all win-win-win!

      Good point on Barton. There’s this, and that genuinely creepy seance scene in The Time of Their Lives. He would have been great for the “House” films, I think!

      I think we should make Cindy and Tracy watch Madhouse and Theater of Blood just to get our Phibes revenge!

      We are having a blast! It’s like a 2-month long Halloween party. We even play some tunes!

      Chris

        1. Cindy hasn’t, Martin, and I don’t think Tracy has either. In fact, I don’t think Rob has seen it, and I know I haven’t. But I don’t think we’ll get our ladies to watch that one anytime soon…if we don’t want to find all our stuff on our respective lawns…or the ashes of it anyway!

  2. I only discovered Fire & Water a few months ago, so I haven’t heard any of the previous House of Franklin-stein episodes. I don’t know if I should seek out the past episodes or not, because I LOVE The Abominable Dr. Phibes, and don’t know how I’ll feel about Cindy tearing it apart. I still remember seeing for the first time on a local station here in Alabama, and the station announcer kept mis-pronouncing the title as the Abnible Doctor Pheebus. Really, I thought Dr. Phibes was a comic book come-to-life, and I can see the movie working as a bronze age Batman story. I wondered if Paul Dini was influenced by it, due to similarities between Nora Fries and Victoria Phibes.

    Chris, I feel your pain on the hit-and-miss distribution of the old spinner racks, because not finding the end of a multi-part arc was frustrating. The Super Friends issue was an off-the-rack purchase for me back in the day. Like you, I was always irritated that Jimmy knew Batman and Robin’s secret ids. I don’t think it bothered me back then that the monsters were doppelgängers. Due to Brave & the Bold, I already thought of the Demon and Swamp Thing as a heroes, and I thought of Man-Bat as one due to the Power Records.

    I doubt you would cover this, because I’ll bet Cindy wouldn’t want to, but if you ever do Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, you should have the comic book be Scott Snyder’s Death of the Family. It is one thing to be influenced by a movie/story you love, but there are multiple incidents in DOF that were, shall we say, similar to TCM2…so much that I think Synder ripped it off. I’m curious if anyone else would think so. Of course, the original Texas Chainsaw was another movie that I can see working as a Bronze Age Batman story, too.

    Are any of the previous House of Franklin-stein episodes Batman-related?

    1. Cindy doesn’t tear Phibes up nearly as bad as it sounds. Besides, I defend it. AND, I made that same Phibes/Freeze connection!

      Probably not going too far into slasher territory on HoF, because Cindy really doesn’t care for those types of movies for the most part. I haven’t read Snyder’s DoF, but it wouldn’t surprise me. I still maintain the Leatherface Joker is the dumbest idea ever put on the comic page. And that’s saying something.

      And Batman has been featured in more HoF comic sections than any other character. He’s my favorite character, and I don’t mind playing favorites!

      Thanks for listening!

  3. Oh, one other thing I forgot to include (sorry for my comment being so long)….you mentioned Scooby Doo owing a debt to A&C meet Frankenstein….I also think it was influenced by the last 30 minutes of an Elvis Presley movie called Tickle Me. Elvis, his red-haired leading lady, and slapstick side kick, get stranded while searching for hidden gold in a ghost town. Some crooks dress like monsters to try and scare off Elvis and crew. They would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for that meddlin’ Elvis.

      1. I’ve never seen where anyone connected with Scooby Doo copped to Tickle Me being an influence, but it has been discussed amongst Elvis fans. As stated only the last 30 minutes or so of the movie are Scooby-esque. Here is the trailer. The Haunted house scenes start at about the 1:30 mark on the trailer.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yqvz0tvh5aI

        A bit of trivia. This movie was so low budget that new songs weren’t even commissioned. Album tracks that weren’t singles were pulled off of some of Elvis’s early 60s non-soundtrack albums. As a result, the soundtrack is much better than most of Elvis’s movies. I still might recommended skipping to the parts where Elvis sings and then watching the last 30 minutes. You’ll still pretty much be able to keep up with the plot.

  4. Hooray for the return of the Haunted House Party Hosted by the Happy Headmistress and Headmaster of Horror! Whew! This was, of course, a great episode. I grew up on re-runs of the Abbot & Costello films, so this was especially enjoyable for me.

  5. Fun show! I was late to the Abbott & Costello party, so it figures I wouldn’t be the first to figure out that the only brain that would worry Lugosi’s Dracula would be Lugosi’s Ygor. If you go back a step, in The Wolf Man, Bela played “Bela,” the werewolf that bit Lawrence Talbot. So Lugosi is responsible for all the boys’ problems in this movie!

    So, Abbott & Costello got to meet the real Universal monsters, but the Super Friends don’t get to meet real DC monsters? I’m sure it was just the story idea, and no disrespect was intended. I mean, Zatanna didn’t show up, either, but, but, Jimmy Olsen did!

    Looking forward to Cindy’s pick! Don’t you dare tear into it!

    1. True about Bela! Frank J. Dello Stritto kinda goes there in the book I won’t stop plugging as well.

      And yeah…the boys got to meet the REAL monsters, but the SF didn’t. Good point! Zatanna looks better in fishnets, I’d guess. Although Jimmy did go undercover as a girl in the Silver Age at least once…so we may be able to make a comparison!

      Chris

  6. I’m happy to hear that the House of Franklin-stein is back for another Halloween season, even though I’m sure its appearance must play havoc with property values in your neighborhood every year.

    This episode marks a House of Franklin-stein first for me, because I’ve actually seen this movie before. Granted, I only saw it for the first time back in November of last year. I have to admit that I was skeptical about combining the Universal monsters with the comedy of Abbott and Costello, but it manages to work. For me, the inclusion Larry Talbot and his tragic story is what earns this film a place with the earlier Universal monster movies, rather than it becoming a parody of those movies.

    I’m looking forward to the next episode.

    1. Yeah, property values go down, but then our taxes are a bit less, so it works out!

      Good call on Larry Talbot. He’s definitely the connective tissue that makes this work, and his crusade against Dracula actually helps reverberate back through the other films for me, and make all of these movies HIS story even more than what’s really displayed on screen.

      I just rewatched A&C Meet the Mummy yesterday, and while its definitely down a notch or two in quality from the first monster film, its still a lot of fun. Plus, it has Michael (Mr. Freeze) Ansara as a heavy who actually disguises himself as a mummy, along with Bud Abbott!

      Chris

        1. I think the “Meet the Monsters” films pretty much follow release order as far as quality goes. “Meet the Invisible Man” is probably the second best, with some legitimately funny and well done invisible effects. “Meets Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde” has Karloff which is a huge plus, and his Dr. Jekyll is no saint, and kind of a pervy creep. The only downside is the Hyde make-up isn’t quite up to the usual Universal standards. “Meets the Mummy” is fun, but you do feel like Bud and Lou may be starting to run out of gas. This was their last movie for Universal, and they would break up two years later. Klaris the Mummy looks like he’s got on Mummy pajamas as well. Jack Pierce’s make-up and creature work is sorely missed here. Still they are all worth watching and are very enjoyable.

          Chris

  7. Not a regular visitor to the House of Franklin-Stein, but between my favorite Universal monster rally (thus discounting Monster Squad) and the promo promising more contemporary favored fare, I’ll probably linger on the lawn for a bit this year. I have a certificate in Doctor Phibes appreciation, but it’s just a box checked on my overall Vincent Price honorarium, so I don’t think it counts toward an actual membership.

  8. I really love all the background research you include in the House of Franklinstein. It helps me to better appreciate the subject matter. For instance, I have a low tolerance for Abbot and Costello. I love their timing, I admire Lou’s vocal dexterity and physicalities, but usually I find their material not to my taste. So, I have never seen this picture, or any of their pictures, start-to-finish. But, I loved hearing your synopsis, the scene samples and all the behind-the-scenes stuff! Great job!
    As for Super Friends, it was not a book that I bought. I was buying the “real” JLA, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman books then and considered Super Friends a title for younger readers. (I was in my early teens.) However, in the years since, I have learned how careful writer E. Nelson Bridwell was in crafting his Super Friends stories. He was simultaneously faithful to the sources and well aware that each issue would very likely be a young readers first DC Comic! That’s a pretty tight needle to thread, and I think he did it admirably. With this story he is able to utilize other characters and concepts from the DC Universe, i.e. Swamp Thing, The Demon, without being saddled with the onus of explaining who these characters are and why they are here. He is also able to include a reference to an old Jimmy Olsen adventure, and even have it be instrumental in defeating the villain! I love internal logic in a story. Yes, Jimmy knows Batman and Robin are Bruce and Dick! (“The Olsen-Robin Team” was one of the very first superhero stories I ever read!) That he never appeared in Brave and the Bold is a shame! Why should he know who Superman is? Why should he even care? If there was someone in your life who came to your side whenever you called, who helped you out of every jam, who gave you support and confidence, do you ask them, “So, what do you do when you’re not with me? Do you hang out with someone else? How come you don’t tell me all your secrets? Sure, you saved my life, but don’t you like me?” You say, “thank you, what can I do for you?” The best thing you can do for Superman is, don’t pry into his life. That’s probably true for most people.

    1. I don’t want Jimmy to know who Superman is…I just don’t want him to know who Batman and Robin are. If Commissioner Gordon and at some points even Batgirl can’t know…why’s Jimmy get a pass? It was an example of Weisinger and Superman being the top dogs at DC at the time. Everyone else was just an offshoot of Big Blue in the eyes of many at the company, it seems. It’s a goofy bit of Silver Age that just rubs me wrong. Like Snapper Carr!

      But thanks for listening! And go watch some Abbott & Costello Movies! Trie the monster films, or The Time of Their Lives!

      chris

  9. Awesome awesome awesome episode! I really like House of Franklinstein is back.

    Dracula throws a potted plant at the Wolfman because the plants were wolfsbane! :)

    Please send my no prize to:

    Lucien Desar
    Shark Alley
    Brooklyn NY USA

    ———-

    I like the trivia tidbits you added about Lon Chaney appearing in this episode.

  10. P.s. This film helped continued to make the Univesal Monsters to be popular. Similar to how “Shaun of the Dead” revived the zombie genre. (Can you revive Zombies?)

    P.s.s. What Halloween decor do you put up during Halloween?

    1. So we can blame Shaun for the oversaturation of zombies? Boo I say then! Despite liking that movie!

      For Halloween decor, I have become increasingly more obsessed with Halloween (and Christmas) blow molds.

      Here’s a few pics of my Halloween decorations (yes I put them up two weeks ago!) The first two are vintage, the cat in jack o’ lantern is new.

      Blow molds

      New blow mold

      1. You put Hallowe’en decorations up mid-September? Brilliant. I’m already watching Christmas films. What I don’t get about US Hallowe’en is dressing up as superheroes and hotdogs and other non-scary things. Isn’t July 4 and Thanksgiving enough for mundane outfits? Everything at Hallowe’en should be terrifying. Like pumpkin pie. I tried that once, you know. Yipes.

        Anyway, congratulations on another brilliant show. I was especially impressed with the prologue, some superb Foley work there. And the level of knowledge, trivia and opinion was wonderful. You two are a pairing every bit as good as Abbott and Costello. We used to get their films on Saturday morning on the BBC. I’ve not seen one for years, now I’m itching to see this one again.

        I remember reading that Super Friends at the time, of course, we had never seen the cartoons over here. But the comic series was wonderful, and that was a particularly good issue.

        1. Not sure when the “dress up as anything” bit started, but I know Superman costumes go back to the 40s at least. I know folks used to dress up as witches, devils, ghosts, etc., but the monsters actually came along when Universal started merchandising in the 40s I believe, with the Frankenstein Don Post mask being the first. Eventually, those characters got synched up with “Halloween” in everyone’s minds.

          I tend to go back and forth between hero and monster myself. The fun is just not being yourself for at least one night. Walking around town in a Batman costume is pretty liberating, especially when you have to threaten some punk teenager dressed in a clown costume scaring little kids!

          I highly recommend A&C Meet Frankenstein. It sublimely transcends several genres. A true classic.

          Still bummed that you and Andy Leyland never got to see Super Friends. So sad.

          Chris

          1. So spookiness wasn’t always associated with Hallowe’en in the US, despite its pagan beginnings and association with All Souls Day? Well!

            I think I’ve seen A@C Meet Frankenstein, but not for bait forty years, sadly.

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