The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974) ****

Blazing Saddles will always be my favorite Mel Brooks movie, but Young Frankenstein is a distinguished second. It amazes me that Brooks made Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein in the same year. I mean Mel Brooks made two of the greatest comedies of all time within months of each other. What other director had that kind of one-two punch in the same year? I guess you could say Spielberg with Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List in ’93. But in my humble opinion, Young Frankenstein has much more replay value than Schindler’s List.

Young Frankenstein is a loving tribute to the old Universal classics. The secret to the film’s success is that Brooks recreates the exact same atmosphere the old Frankenstein films had. (Brooks even got a hold of Kenneth Strickfaden’s original Frankenstein lab equipment.) And because the movie feels like it belongs in the same universe as the old films, it gives the jokes an added kick. Brooks never really overreaches for a gag either. They come naturally out of the characters and situations and even the corniest jokes get a laugh.

Gene Wilder gets one of the great introductions of all time as Frederick Frankenstein. He’s so ashamed of his family that he changes the pronunciation. “That’s Franc-en-STEEN!” His lecture scene is downright hilarious, especially the part where he inadvertently stabs himself with a scalpel. Eventually, he finds his grandfather’s notes (“How I Did It”) and pretty soon revives a hulking monster (Peter Boyle). Wilder gives one of his best performances and gives several terrific manic, blustering monologues.

And nearly every other performance is a classic of comic genius. Like Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein features another wonderful Madeline Kahn performance. Has there been a funnier female on Earth than Madeline Kahn? Didn’t think so. And Teri Garr shows why she is one of the most underrated comediennes of all time. (“What knockers!” “Oh, thank you doctor!”) Marty Feldman also gets several big laughs as Frankenstein’s assistant, Igor. (“It’s pronounced ‘Eye-Gore’!”) And who could forget Cloris Leachman as Frau Blucher? (Cue the horses.)

Just about every single scene is a classic comedic set piece. The hidden passageway scene (“Put the candle back!”), the inadvertent game of charades, the dart scenes… the list goes on and on. And the scenes that parody the original films are particularly hilarious. I mean the blind man scene is fucking hysterical.

Overall, Young Frankenstein is a classic. It’s very nearly as good as the films it’s parodying. If that isn’t a testament to its awesomeness, I don’t know what is.

Tags: comedy, frankenstein, horror, mel brooks, y
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