Mel Brooks's follow-up to his enormously successful western spoof, BLAZING SADDLES, tackles the horror genre--specifically, FRANKENSTEIN and THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. This time Brooks tones down his broad humor a bit to create a work that is both an affectionate parody and a
knowlegeable homage to its cinematic forebears. Gene Wilder plays Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (now defiantly pronounced "FRONK-en-steen"), a med school lecturer who thinks his infamous grandfather's work is "doo-doo." The younger Frankenstein must finally face his destiny when he inherits his
grandfather's Transylvanian estate. Once there, he meets Igor (pronounced "eye-gore" and played by the eye-popping Marty Feldman), whose hunchback inexplicably changes from the left side to the right throughout the movie; Inga (Teri Garr), a young woman who will assist the doctor; and Frau Blucher
(Cloris Leachman), a hideous old woman who causes horses to whinny in fright at the mere mention of her name. Eventually, Frederick finds his grandfather's private library and a copy of his book, How I Did It. Of course, Frederick cannot keep himself from righting his grandfather's wrongs and
creating a new monster (Peter Boyle), a big, dumb corpse with a zipper round his neck and an abnormal brain in his head. The laughs come along at a fast and furious rate. One of the film's highlights is the "Puttin' on the Ritz" duet performed by Frederick and the Monster.
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN is Brooks's most accomplished work, combining his well-known brand of comedy with stylish direction and a uniformly excellent cast. The handsome black-and-white cinematography really captures the look of an early 1930s film. The direction achieves a seemingly impossible task,
balancing Brooks's off-the-wall humor within the framework of the style of a classic Universal Frankenstein film. The Frankenstein castle, with its cobwebs, dust, skulls, original lab equipment, and strange goings-on, could easily have been inhabited by Boris Karloff or Bela Lugosi. Wilder, wildly
funny here, later attempted his own genre spoof, HAUNTED HONEYMOON, which came nowhere near YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN.
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