“Destiny! Destiny! No escaping that for me! Destiny! Destiny! No escaping that for me!” Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) comedically exclaims his realization of his true path…in his sleep…in Mel Brook’s classic Young Frankenstein (1974). Brook’s follow up to Blazing Saddles lovingly parodies the Universal Monster classics with a brilliant cast — including Peter Boyle, Mary Feldman, Madeline Kahn, and Teri Garr — and a witty, satirical script from Wilder. Doc Rotten and Jeff Mohr are joined by Chad Hunt and Bill Mulligan, along with HNR co-host Thomas Mariani, to discuss what may be the best horror-comedy of all time.
Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 65 – Young Frankenstein (1974)
Toward the end of 1974, Mel Brooks moves from Rock Ridge to Transylvania to send up the B&W horror films he – and co-writer Gene Wilder – loved so much. From Frankenstein to Son of Frankenstein many of the elements of those original films find their way into the film: the blind hermit, Ygor, Inspector Krogh (in the form of Kenneth Mars’ Inspector Kemp) – and so much more. Yes, those are the original scientific lab equipment (by Kenneth Strickfaden) from the original Universal classics appearing once again. The cast, led by Wilder, is superb with Marty Feldman as Igor displaying untoppable comedic timing. Peter Boyle makes an impressive monster with Teri Garr and Madeline Kahn as Inga and Elizabeth, respectively. Cloris Leachman is comedy gold as Frau Blucher [cue neighing horses]. Young Frankenstein works on a number of levels due to the script and the cast…and the reverence and respect Brooks holds for the source material. Even with the film being parody and satire, filmed in black and white, it could easily be considered a followup to the Universal films released decades before.
“The Scariest Comedy of All Time!” – the poster tagline makes a bold promise upon which Young Frankenstein seemingly effortlessly delivers.
The Grue-Crew lovingly recall their first encounters with Young Frankenstein with Doc, Jeff, Chad, and Bill catching it in the theaters upon its first release while Thomas shares that the film serves as a gateway from comedy into horror. Everyone has their favorites lines from “where wolf?” to “what knockers” to “footsteps footsteps footsteps” – the film is full of them. “Put the candle…back!” It also contains an endless series of visual gags that delightfully tickle the funny bone, most of them at the expense of Marty Feldman. Jeff notices that the clock chimes 13 times as the film opens and shares how much in common Inspector Kemp has with his inspiration Inspector Krogh, right down to sticking the darts into his wooden arm – a scene played for dramatic effect in Son of Frankenstein. Bill admits being concerned when the musical number with Wilder and Boyle began; but, by the time the monster growls “Putting on the Ritz,” he was sold. The amount of love and respect for this film from the Grue-Crew is only matched by that from Brooks and Wilder for the Universal classics that remain beloved all these years later.
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