Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Young Frankenstein (1974)

It’s not uncommon for someone to go into the family business.  Some companies are family owned for several generations   You may even see a company name along the lines of Smith & Sons.  Likewise, you may find police officers that have siblings, aunts and uncles, parents and grandparents that are also police officers.  (At least, that’s the way it is in television and movies.)  Normally, no one would think anything of someone doing what their family does.

Things are a little different for Frederick.  He’s a doctor, like his grandfather.  Frederick doesn’t want the association, though, as his grandfather is none other than Dr. Viktor Frankenstein.  Yes, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  The idea of reanimating a nervous system is ridiculous.  I know it.  You know it.  Frederick knows it, too.  Yet, everyone keeps pestering him about it.

It doesn’t get any easier when Frederick inherits the family castle in Transylvania.  So, the young Dr. Frankenstein goes to see what he’s inherited.  When he gets there, he’s greeted by Igor, also the grandson of the corresponding character in the book.  He introduces Frederick to beautiful lab assistant Inga and the horse-scaring Frau Bl├╝cher.  Frederick wants to find his grandfather’s work, but Frau Bl├╝cher denies any knowledge of the work.  It’s with the help of Inga that he’s able to find a secret passageway and, eventually, a book called How I Did It by V. Frankenstein.

After reading the book, Frederick realizes that it’s not so far fetched.  He might actually be able to reanimate a corpse.  So, he and Igor rob a grave.  Igor is also sent to get the brain of a noted scientist.  The townspeople, however, are rightfully concerned.  Yes, he’s a Frankenstein, but there’s no proof that he’ll follow in his grandfather’s footsteps.  That is, until he reanimates the corpse.  Now, it’s up to Frankenstein and Company to protect the new life.

The movie is in black and white.  It’s even set up like Ye Olde Horror Filmme of Yore, with credits in the beginning.  (Having seen some older movies, I get the reference, but I’m not sure how many references I’m missing.)  With Frankenstein being something that everyone knows about, even minimally, most people will get many of the jokes.  There’s the obligatory angry mob waiting to happen, for instance.

The book doesn’t seem to parody the book directly, but seems to use the story as a backdrop.  It’s almost like an unofficial, comedic sequel of sorts.  Probably the one scene I remember best is where Frederick tries to show off The Monster by having him do a demonstration that ends with a performance of Putin’ on the Ritz.

This ultimately leads to The Monster being taken away by the police. The Monster eventually escapes and meets some people while on the run, like a girl who doesn’t seem frightened by him.  There’s also the blind man who desperately wants company.  The Monster doesn’t hurt anyone unless provoked, which usually involves someone taunting him.

This isn’t the kind of movie you’ll watch week after week, but it does hold up after repeated viewings.  Some of the humor is meant to work as a surprise.  Other jokes, like Putin’ on the Ritz, can be viewed multiple times.  It’s the kind of movie you’d watch when you catch it on TV or maybe watch in class the day before school lets out for break.

The movie is rated PG, mostly for sexual references.  Frederick mentions huge knockers, referring to a door.  There are also a scene where The Monster has sex with Frederick’s bride to be, although no nudity is shown.  There are also scenes of violence, like The Monster choking Frederick.  It’s a comedy, so there’s little threat of the main characters being permanently harmed.  The worst of the violence is seeing a man hanged. It’s generally safe for teenagers and above.


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