Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949)

One Sheet Poster

Abbott and Costello vs. Truth in Advertising, Part III: The Final Chapter—once again, the boys play fast and loose with the truth, as Boris Karloff is NOT the killer, either in the film or in society in general, as far as I can ascertain.  I hope that I didn’t ruin the film for you.  But since we’re on the subject of Boris, has there ever been another film in history that names three of its stars in the title?  I can’t think of one.  None of the Three Stooges films count, as the stooges are never named individually.  Ditto the Marx Brothers.  So, I’m feeling that this film has secured its place in movie history for its title alone.

I’ll say it up front—I like this movie.  ANY film that opens at an isolated house/castle/hotel on a dark and stormy night is aces in my book.  What follows is pretty much a standard-issue “old dark house” murder mystery (except with jokes) with Bud playing Casey, the hotel dick (that means “detective” for those of you who aren’t hep to the jive lingo of the ‘40s—I’m not calling him names) and Lou playing Freddie, the hotel bellboy.  Now, for extra points, diagram that last sentence.

Dead bodies start popping up all over the place, Lou dresses as a maid, and there’s an extended sequence in “The Lost Caverns.”  All of this adds up to prime entertainment in one of the duo’s better films.  As an added bonus, a large wooden mallet makes an appearance as well (see my previous post if you don’t understand that reference).

The advertising campaign for the film compared it to Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, which is only natural, as that film had made lots of money for Universal.  Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff even opens with the same music cue that opened …Meet Frankenstein, has an animated title sequence like its predecessor, and features the same leading lady, Lenore Aubert.   I guess that Universal wasn’t leaving anything to chance in making sure that this film reached the same audience as the prior one.

On a personal note, this movie was one of my early VHS purchases and, if I recall correctly, was the first Abbott and Costello film that I ever bought.  Goodtimes Home Video (which was the premier budget video label in the mid-1980s) released a batch of Universal films all at once, and I ended up with several of them.  Here’s what the front of the box looked like:

That image comes from Fred Adelman’s incredible collection of VHS boxes.  You can (and should) check out his entire site for a walk down memory lane (if you’re old enough to have been renting and buying VHS tapes in the 80s, that is).  Here’s a link:

A Visual History of Video Companies in the ’80s

So that you won’t have to dig through days’ or weeks’ worth of posts to find it in the future, you should probably just go ahead and bookmark Fred’s site now.  You know you’ll check it out again.

No video clip today.  I can’t blame YouTube, as Castle Films never released Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff as a digest, and the film is still under copyright protection.  I’m sorry for the disappointment that you must be experiencing.

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