Looks like it’s time for another Abbott and Costello film. I dare say that this one makes a case for being the best one yet as the characters take part in an ambitious ghost story. The Supernatural elements are handled well even if the rules surrounding them are a little muddy. The plot can also be a little confusing at times as you try to remember who the traitors were and why everyone is so gun happy. It all makes for one chaotically fun adventure that you won’t want to miss!
The film starts off with Horatio returning from a big mission. Nora greets him happily and brags to the world that he is actually is a pretty great guy who never slacks off. What she doesn’t realize is that Horatio has an iconically low IQ and can’t understand anything for beans. Still, they’re together and that’s what counts. This is stopped when Horatio’s old enemy Cuthbert shows up and locks Horatio in a chest. He is freed by Melody who warns Horatio that they need to get out and warn George Washington of his impending doom. They are shot on the way over and cursed to be trapped in the land forever until they are proven innocent of being traitors. Fast forward to the modern day and some people live in the mansion. Horatio and Melody decide to play tricks on them to make themselves feel better, but then realize that if they can get the new owners to find the letter…they’ll be free. How can they do that when they’re ghosts though?
It was pretty ambitious to actually have the main characters murdered in the beginning. Nora was possibly offed as well. I can safely say that I was not expecting that in the slightest so the shock value was handled well. There’s also a lot that you can do with the ghost gimmick so that was fun. The rules confused me a bit though. So, people can’t hear the ghosts, but they can feel them…sometimes. The ghosts can make contact with each other…sometimes. What’s the point of going invisible when nobody can see you? The ghosts do that a lot with a cool spin move (That was admittedly handled very well) but I wondered what the point of it was. Horatio could do the spin move sometimes and sometimes he couldn’t. I thought that the rules were a little convoluted, but I suppose that’s part of the point right?
The humor is basically the same as it always is so you either like it or you don’t. Horatio spends the majority of the film sputtering and stammering as he takes everything literally and is the but of every joke. You have to admire the fact that he never lets any of this get to him though and always gets right back on the saddle. The guy has heart and charisma. It is admittedly the same array of jokes in every Abbott and Costello film so I can see how some would get tired of it, but it always works well if you ask me. The style is pretty nice and Horatio isn’t a bad character. Even though he is stuck with Melody for almost 200 years, he resists all of the flirting attempts as he thinks about how to get back to Nora. Melody felt a little more fake on that note as she was willing to rebound with Horatio until she could move on and be reunited with her original partner.
Ralph takes himself seriously as always. He gets picked on by the ghosts quite a bit so in a way it’s like Costello is finally getting his revenge for all of the other films. It works pretty well, but you have to admit that there wouldn’t be much of a movie without Horatio. I mean, it would be a decently serious mystery I suppose, but the comedy is what makes the film. Horatio may make a lot of mistakes but the fact that he is so petty makes him more endearing. The human characters get a fairly big role yet they are largely forgettable. They are mainly here to get picked on and scared on many occasions by Horatio. While they may not have much of a personality of their own, it’s still fun to see them slowly believe in the ghosts one by one. Stealing poor Ralph’s whiskey may have been a bit much, but it showed that the ghosts meant business this time around.
And to think that I was actually worried that we’d be stuck in the past for a little while there. Trust me, that wouldn’t have been nearly as engaging. It was rather painful for the lead as well since he ended up falling on a giant pitch fork there. No, he’s definitely glad that they’re in the present now even if he was stuck there for quite a long time. He may not be even remotely smart, but he still knows enough to try and stay away from gunfire. Now if he can just learn the difference between a recording a live voice, then he’d be golden!
Finally, I think what helps this film is that it feels like it’s always moving in a straight line. The plot is simple so it is always the focus. Every minute of the film is essentially trying to get to that goal. Because of that, a large intro isn’t needed or a bunch of twists and turns. After all, this isn’t really a mystery, it’s more of an adventure. It’s a pretty big change from the other films and it’s one that works well. I’m also getting slightly closer to watching them all so that’s pretty fun.
Overall, This film was just a lot of fun. It’s fairly short so the pacing is tight as each scene keeps on moving with quite a lot of speed. Horatio and Melody make for a pair of charismatic main characters. It was fun to see them enjoying their time as a ghost for the most part since most ghosts end up falling into self pity mode. They ultimately did enjoy their freedom, but at least they had fun in the process. I do think they could have stopped the cops a lot easier tough like by hitting the wheels or something. I suppose that as long as their methods worked it all ended up for the best though. The surprise ending was pretty intense though and a fitting way for the film to close out. Washington always gets the last laugh after all. I’d definitely recommend checking the film out and then you can decide for yourself if it’s one of the best Abbott and Costello films or not.