Universal Studios realized the end of their gold mine of monsters domination was careening to a finish, the mayhem of the Vampires, Werewolves and Monsters, were soon to become buried, at least in terms of the box office for the foreseeable future (well sort of). The director closing the primary chapter, was Erie C. Kenton, who also responsible for The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), House of Frankenstein (1944), and finally this last movie House of Dracula, this movie served as the third version of the monster reuniting in the 1940s, thereby creating an off-shoot of a very limited formulaic design, the equivalent of this would be that of Freddy vs. Jason (2003), or some of the fan films which of the franchise killers battling each other. The first for Universal was Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943); following in the mix was both House Frankenstein and Dracula, although Universal found some new life briefly in comedic horror films such as Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). Edward T. Lowe served as the primary screenwriter and designed a precise and proper conclusion to the monsters’ demise; he was aided by writers Dwight V. Babcock and George Bricker, both who worked on She-Wolf of London (1946), the overall film length is a mere 67-minutes and that includes the credits.
The plot is original and quite simple, though honestly a tad hilarious, Dracula and the Wolfman aka Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr. (The Wolf Man )), independently head to Dr. Edlemann’s (Onslow Stevens (Them! )), home, in a customary castle seeking cures for sinister curses. As for why him, it is never expressed nor is the viewer informed of why; now they both are immortal enemies of each other and would want to have the good mortal lifestyle. One needs to understand, that Dracula herein is still dressed as if attending a black-tie event, no sparkles, he just transforms from his bat to full man, and the doctor isn’t alarmed seems to have expected his arrival, introduces himself as Baron Latos (John Carradine (The Howling )) – wait it gets stranger Dracula shows him to a secret crypt in the basement where a coffin rests, all within the doctor’s home. This room wasn’t hidden, think about, if you had a new home or long-standing castle wouldn’t you open all the doors? Skipping ahead a bit the dear doctor examines the blood of his two new patients, and theorizes about the species as his assistant is a hunch-backed nurse Nina, soon with the Wolfman’s help he discovers the body of The Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange) and get him back to his magnificent lab to revive him. There’s one truly interesting scene in which Miliza (Marth O’Driscoll (Ghost Catchers )) is elegantly playing the piano, and Dracula uses his mind controlling abilities to have a strange piece of music (which is Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”) that she never played before accidentally touching her crucifix, breaking his spell; the entire scene is very captivating. Soon, enough our dear doctor crosses the line of science and damnation, and metamorphizes into Mr. Hyde an experiment gone astray becoming his own monster, losing himself in every manner. As all the strange happenings occurring, as well as deaths and the curious visitors to the doctor’s castle, Police Inspector Holtz (Lionel Atwill (The Vampire Bat )) becomes more immerse in the dealings of Edlemann.
Hey Frankenstein Monster fans interested in some trivia, of course, in this movie four different actors play the actual monster, yes FOUR, the movie uses footage from Bride of Frankenstein (1935), hence that’s Boris Karloff and in the final portion of the film uses scenes of both Lon Chaney Jr. and his stunt double Eddie Parker from The Ghost of Frankenstein (1944), – WOW! Some might criticize a feature film cannibalize so much from other movies, but it’s not that uncommon, Italian cannibal movies and even the Friday the 13th franchises did it too, but yes for 1945 recapturing portions of the once acclaimed Frankenstein was a weak maneuver. The film had a very tight budget, and therefore many shadows exists on the set to hide cardboard usage and wires with bats on them, all leady to lame but still fun cheesy effects, yet the werewolf transformation always works to stay phenomenally well done, regardless of the limitations.
One might think the film is thoroughly terrible, that’s not my intentional, it is far from great, it suffers many aspects, and tries the patience of crew, cast and fans, with a rushed script, ultra-low budget, short filming schedule and a tiresome storyline, all of it adds up to laughter from the modern audience and groans from the diehard Universal Monsters fanbase. The biggest issue the film can never overcome for the reason is the ability to generate tension or a hint of suspense, the House of Frankenstein gave the fans something new, all their monsters in one place at one time, it’s like The Cabin in the Woods (2011) a feel good effect, hence ratchet up another cash-in attitude, but never lives up to the gusto of the previous movie. If you are a fan of the series then enjoy the memories and if not take the time to view Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein the ultimate mash-up of all the monsters.
HORROR UPON HORROR in the HOUSE OF DRACULA
All New… All Together!
Frankenstein’s Monster … Wolf Man … Dracula … Mad Doctor … Hunchback
The Devil’s Own Brood!
Never Before…So Much Horror Under One Roof !
The Super-Shock Sensation Of All Time… All Together… All Terrific… Bringing All NEW Thrills!
IMDb Rating: 5.8/10
Baron’s Rating: 5.5/10
The Invisible Man (1933)
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Dracula’s Daughter (1936)
Son of Frankenstein (1939)
The Invisible Man Returns (1940)
The Invisible Woman (1940)
The Wolf Man (1941)
The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)
Invisible Agent (1942)
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
Son of Dracula (1943)
The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944)
House of Frankenstein (1944)
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)