Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) makes an urgent phone call from London to a Florida railway station where Chick Young (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (Lou Costello) work as baggage clerks. Talbot tries to impart to Wilbur the danger of a shipment due to arrive for "McDougal's House Of Horrors", a local wax museum. The crates purportedly contain the remains of Count Dracula (Béla Lugosi) and the Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange). However, before Wilbur can understand, a full moon rises and Talbot transforms into a werewolf. He proceeds to destroy his hotel room while Wilbur is on the line. Wilbur thinks the call is a prank and hangs up. Meanwhile, the museum owner, McDougal (Frank Ferguson), has arrived to claim the shipments. When Wilbur badly mishandles the crates, McDougal demands that the boys deliver them to his museum so his insurance agent can inspect them.
Chick and Wilbur deliver the crates after hours. They open the first one and find Dracula's coffin. When Chick leaves the room to retrieve the second crate, Wilbur reads aloud the Dracula legend printed on an exhibit card. The coffin slowly creaks open. Wilbur is so frightened that his attempts to call Chick result in helpless sputtering. Before Chick returns with the second crate, Dracula climbs unnoticed out of his coffin and hides in the shadows. Wilbur claims that the coffin opened, but Chick shows him that it is in fact empty. While the boys open the second crate containing the Monster, Chick leaves the room to greet McDougal and the insurance agent. Dracula now hypnotizes Wilbur and re-animates the Monster. They both leave, and by the time McDougal, the insurance agent, and Chick enter, both crates are empty. McDougal accuses the boys of theft and has them arrested.
That night, Dr. Sandra Mornay (Lenore Aubert) welcomes Dracula and the Monster to her island castle. Sandra, a gifted surgeon who has studied Dr. Frankenstein's notebooks, has seduced Wilbur as part of Dracula's plan to replace the Monster's brutish brain with a more pliable one--Wilbur's.
Wilbur and Chick are bailed out of jail. They assume that Sandra posted bond, but Joan Raymond (Jane Randolph), an undercover investigator for the insurance company, did so. Joan also feigns love for Wilbur, hoping he will lead her to the missing "exhibits." Wilbur invites Joan to a masquerade ball that evening. Meanwhile, Lawrence Talbot has tracked Dracula and the Monster from Europe and has taken the apartment across the hall from Wilbur and Chick. Talbot asks Chick and Wilbur to help him find and destroy Dracula and the Monster. Wilbur believes, but Chick remains skeptical.
That night Wilbur, Chick and Joan go to Sandra's castle to pick her up for the ball. Wilbur answers a telephone call from Talbot, who informs them that they are in fact in the "House of Dracula". Wilbur reluctantly agrees to search the castle with Chick, and soon stumbles upon a basement staircase that leads to a boat and dock. Chick insists they search for Dracula and the Monster to prove to Wilbur that they do not really exist. Behind a revolving door, Wilbur experiences a few close calls with the monsters; whenever he tries to get Chick's attention, the monsters have disappeared. Meanwhile, Joan discovers Dr. Frankenstein's notebook in Sandra's desk, and Sandra finds Joan's insurance company employee ID in her purse.
As the men and women prepare to leave for the ball, a suavely dressed Dr. Lejos (a.k.a. Dracula) introduces himself to Joan and the boys. Also working at the castle is the naive Prof. Stevens (Charles Bradstreet), who questions some of the specialized equipment that has arrived. After Wilbur admits that he was in the basement, Sandra feigns a headache and tells Wilbur and the others that they will have to go to the ball without her. In private, Sandra admits to Dracula that Stevens's suspicions, Joan's credentials, and Wilbur's snooping in the basement have made her nervous enough to put the experiment on hold. Dracula asserts his will by hypnotizing her and biting her in the neck. (In a continuity error, Dracula's reflection is visible in a mirror. Vampires do not have a reflection, as stated in "Dracula" (1931).)
Everyone is now at the masquerade ball. Talbot arrives and confronts Dr. Lejos, who is in costume as Dracula. Lejos easily deflects Talbot's accusations and takes Joan to the dance floor. Sandra lures Wilbur to a quiet spot in the woods and attempts to bite him, but Chick and Larry approach and she flees. While Talbot, Chick and Wilbur search for Joan, Talbot transforms into the Wolf Man and stalks Wilbur. Wilbur escapes, but the Wolf Man attacks McDougal, who is also at the ball. Since Chick's costume includes a wolf mask, McDougal accuses Chick of attacking him out of revenge. Chick escapes, and witnesses Dracula hypnotizing Wilbur. Chick is also hypnotized and rendered helpless while Dracula and Sandra bring Wilbur and Joan back to the castle. The next morning, Chick and Talbot, both fugitives, meet up in the bayou. Talbot confesses to Chick that he is indeed the Wolf Man. Chick explains that Dracula has taken Wilbur and Joan to the island, and they agree to work together to rescue them.
Wilbur is held in a pillory in the cellar. Sandra explains her plan to transplant his brain into the Monster. When she and Dracula leave him to prepare the Monster for the operation, Chick and Talbot sneak in set Wilbur and Stevens free. Dracula and Sandra return to the cellar and find Wilbur missing; Dracula easily recalls Wilbur, and he soon finds himself strapped to an operating table in the lab. The Monster is on an adjacent table, receiving electric shocks. As Sandra brings a scalpel to Wilbur's forehead, Talbot and Chick burst in. Talbot pulls Sandra away from Wilbur, and Chick unintentionally knocks her out while fending off Dracula with a chair. Chick flees the lab pursued by Dracula. Talbot is about to untie Wilbur when he once again transforms into the Wolf Man. Dracula returns to the lab and engages in a brief tug of war with the Wolf Man over Wilbur's gurney. Dracula flees and the Wolf Man gives chase. Chick returns to untie Wilbur just as the Monster, now at full power, breaks his restraints and climbs off his gurney. Sandra attempts to command him, but the Monster picks her up and tosses her out the lab window to her death. Chick and Wilbur escape the lab and run from room to room with the Monster following them.
Dracula, while fighting with the Wolf Man, attempts to escape by transforming into a bat. The Wolf Man leaps, catches the bat, and tumbles off a balcony onto the rocks below. Presumably, both are killed. Joan abruptly wakes from her trance, and is rescued by Stevens. The boys run out of the castle to the pier, with the Monster still in pursuit. They climb into a small row boat while Stevens and Joan arrive and set the pier ablaze. The Monster wheels around into the flames, succumbing as the pier collapses into the water.
Wilbur scolds Chick for not believing him. Chick insists that now that all the monsters are dead, "there's nobody to scare us anymore." They suddenly hear a disembodied voice (provided by an uncredited Vincent Price) and see a cigarette floating in the air. The voice says, "Oh, that's too bad. I was hoping to get in on the excitement. Allow me to introduce myself--I'm the Invisible Man!" The boys jump out of the boat and swim away while the Invisible Man laughs.
Why It Rocks
- One of the first horror comedies ever made.
- History's greatest monsters up against one of the greatest comedy duos of all time.
- The first time the Big Three Universal Monsters appeared together since the 1945 film, House of Dracula.
- The second and final time Bela Lugosi appears as Dracula in a movie since the original Dracula made 17 years ago.
- Great slapstick comedy coming from Abbott and Costello.
- Great actors for the time, including Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, and an uncredited Vincent Price.
Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein is considered the best horror comedy of all time and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress in 2001.