Dr Frankenstein’s grandson, Frederick von Frankenstein, reluctantly decides to follow in his ancestor’s footprints in Mel Brooks’ affectionate parody of horror films.
Freddy would like to forget his heritage, insisting that his university students pronounce his last name “Fronkensteen” but when news arrives that he has inherited his grandfather’s Transylvanian estate, the young Frankenstein travels to see his new digs.
In Transylvania, Freddy meets Igor (pronounced “Eye-gore”), whose grandfather worked for Frederick’s grandfather. With the voluptuous blonde Inga (Teri Garr) in tow, Freddy and Igor (Marty Feldman) travel to the Castle Frankenstein.
At the castle, the group is greeted by the terrifying Frau Blucher (Cloris Leachman), whose very name causes horses to whinny.
Despite Freddy’s insistence that he wants no part of his grandfather’s experiments, the young Frankenstein is drawn by strange music to the old lab, where he finds a conveniently placed copy of “How I Did It” by Victor von Frankenstein.
Inspired, Freddy builds a body and dispatches Igor to retrieve a brain.
Unfortunately, the hunchbacked assistant returns with an abnormal brain and the resulting monster is impossible to control.
The Monster escapes into the nearby village, first encountering a young girl, then a blind man with a clumsy streak.
The angry villagers are led by a police inspector with a mechanical wooden hand which he uses as a cigarette lighter, and whose German accent is so comically gutteral that when he makes speeches the typical folk crowd, uncomprehending and stupefied, roar back in chorus: “What?”
Freddy gets his creation back for a spell, training him for a tandem Puttin’ on the Ritz soft shoe, but when even that fails, he must consider drastic measures to save the creature he has created and come to love.
Young Frankenstein was shot in black and white and used many of the original settings from Universal’s 1930’s Frankenstein films.
Anachronism was the key, and the character of the demented scientist gave Gene Wilder a fresh license for his rages.
If we are going to give Mel Brooks his due, this is probably the place to do it (although the 1968 movie The Producers was excellent). He was certainly at his least frantic and most film-reverent here. His later efforts were pretty terrible.
Dr Frederick von Frankenstein