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Today’s Netflix pick is a classic comedy based on the Mary Shelley book Frankenstein about a doctor who reanimates life and in so doing, creates a monster. At least sort of is. A horror story, the book was most famously produced as a black & white film in 1931 with the legendary Boris Karloff starring as the monster. While spoofing the genre is nothing new – Abbott and Costello were doing it in 1948 – none had actually taken the original and spun it quite so well as when Mel Brooks decided to give it a spin. And thus, we have Young Frankenstein.
THE STORY: Filmed in black & white, it follows Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder), a lecturing physician at an American university who becomes greatly dismayed by the mention of his grandfather Victor, a mad scientist that well, had some bold ideas about the dead. Some not so popular with the locals. When Frederick comes to inherit the Transylvanian family estate though, he heads over and makes some rather startling discoveries about his past and the possibilities of what might actually done with regenerating tissue. All he needs now is a body and a brain. When he leaves that second part to hunchbacked, bug-eyed servant Igor (Marty Feldman), well, things don’t go quite so normal. “Abbie” normal if you know the movie.
WHY YOU NEED TO WATCH: Some things just go great together and combining Brooks with Wilder is one of the best. After they’d already torn up the western genre with Blazing Saddles, it only seemed right to take a swing at horror and boy do they hit it out of the park. Wilder is hysterical from frame one, a comedic genius the likes we might never see again, he brings crazy to all new levels of lunacy. From his frazzled hair to the wide eyes, the way he swings from straight-laced professional to gone ’round the bend in a blink is pure movie magic. Surrounded by a helluva supporting cast, he’s got the giggle-inducing Feldman tripping up every word the doc says, to the buxom Teri Garr as the lovely assistant with ‘great knockers’ to the sassy Madeline Kahn as Frederick’s wildly wound up wife. And let’s not forget the great Peter Boyle as the monster. He’s roars, he shuffles, he sings and dances! Oh, and look for a very funny cameo from an unexpected star.
If you’ve never seen this and have been hesitating and skipping over it to binge another season of well, whatever, just stop and take a break to enjoy this classic comedy. You absolutely won’t regret it. One of the greats in the genre,it is streaming on Netflix right now.