Young Frankenstein (1974)


Mel Brooks’ horror comedy classic completely and utterly challenged any and all norms and perceptions of formula comedy that I had when I was a kid. It was a black and white movie that was a comedy and though the film bordered on absolutely insane in the comedy meter, the cast in the film played everything with a straight face. Particularly Gene Wilder whose entire performance is deadpan and dramatic in spite of the fact he’s probably the funniest character in the film.

It was definitely a new experience that required a lot of adjusting for me, and it was surely my introduction in to the mad genius of Mel Brooks. “Young Frankenstein” is arguably the best Mel Brooks film to date and by all accounts the perfect example of a horror comedy. “Young Frankenstein” is an ode to the Universal horror films and the Mary Shelly opus while also providing twists to the story that are brilliant and absolutely stunning in its comedic flavor. Director Mel Brooks doesn’t so much alter the tale of “Frankenstein” so much as he tweaks every story element to fit a degree of eccentricity. And that makes the story all the more funny, while also reveling in the inherent silliness of the original tale. Most of the cast play the film without reaching for laughs, and in the process of delivering brilliant dialogue and landing ridiculous one-liners, they end up taking part in one of the funniest films ever made. “Young Frankenstein” is more a take off on Mary Shelly’s tale than an actual Frankenstein story.

The amazing Gene Wilder isn’t Dr. Frankenstein but his grandson, while everyone he deal with in his grandfather’s castle are folks whom were involved in the creation of the original creature. When Frederick Frankenstein arrives in Transylvania, he’s shocked to discover he has his own hunchbacked servant Igor, brilliantly portrayed by Marty Feldman. What’s even more shocking is that his servant isn’t aware he even has a hunchback. While staying at his grandfather’s castle, Frederick uncovers the legacy of his family, and embraces their lunacy when he ventures to create his own monster from parts of the dead. “Young Frankenstein” is filled with an almost non-stop barrage of jokes, in which director Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder pool their talents with.

Unlike modern lampoonings, “Young Frankenstein” definitely has a story and a range of characters, but they’re unwitting pawns in the Mary Shelly mythos. Even the great Madeline Kahn is instrumental in the plot of the new Monster, and his rather human desires toward women. Brooks also plays with classic horror devices, including the moving book case that results in a confusing and painful mix-up between Frederick and his assistant Inga, as well as Frederick’s efforts to conceal a corpses hand by pretending it’s his own. “Young Frankenstein” manages to be one of Mel Brooks’ most brilliant and immortal cinematic works to date, it’s a wonderful laugh a minute twist on the classic Mary Shelly novel, and one that promises laughter no matter how many times you watch it.