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Great Cast Makes Film Better Than It Should Be
bsmith555219 May 2004
"House of Frankenstein" is salvaged by a great cast of seasoned performers who make this movie better than it should be, given it's split "B" movie story. In a move to re-generate interest in its fading horror series, Universal gives us Dracula, the Frankenstein monster, the Wolf Man, the Hunchback and the Mad Doctor all in the same film. But where's the Mummy? It is essentially divided into two parts.

We begin with the notorious Dr. Gustav Niemann (Boris Karloff) and his hunchback assistant Daniel (J. Carroll Naish) escaping from the prison in which they have been held for the past 15 years. They come upon a traveling Chamber of Horrors that supposedly includes the remains of the infamous Count Dracula, run by a Professor Lampini (George Zucco). Neimann wants to return to his home and resume his work of creating life from dead bodies and take revenge upon his accusers. The unfortunate Professor is quickly dispatched and Neimann takes his place.

It turns out that the remains of Dracula are genuine and Neimann brings him back to life in the form of John Carradine. Neimann plans to use Dracula as the instrument of his revenge. He is sent to murder the local Burgomeister (Sig Ruman) and is attracted to his grand daughter Rita (Anne Gwynne). When Rita is abducted by Dracula, her husband (Peter Coe) and the local police Inspector (Lionel Atwill) give chase and .....

Meanwhile Neimann plans to go to the ruins of Frankenstein's castle to seek out the scientist's notes on the creation of his creature. Along the way they stop at a gypsy camp and Daniel becomes infatuated with a gypsy girl Ilonka (Elena Verdugo). At the castle Daniel falls into a frozen cave where they find the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr.) and the Frankenstein monster (Glenn Strange). The Wolf Man changes back into Lawrence Talbot and pleads with Neimann to help rid him of his werewolf curse.

Neimann takes them both back to his laboratory but becomes pre-occupied with restoring the monster rather than helping Talbot. Ilonka begins to fall in love with Talbot but is warned of Talbot's curse. The full moon comes up and you know what happens next. Daniel attacks Neimann because of his broken promises to him. The monster suddenly awakens and.....

The teaming of Karloff and Chaney makes this film work. Karloff is great as the mad doctor and Chaney brings pathos and sympathy to his portrayal of the doomed Talbot. Carradine makes a surprisingly good Dracula in an all too brief appearance. Naish almost steals the film as the tragic Daniel whose love for the gypsy girl is doomed from the start. Cowboy actor and former stuntman Glenn Strange takes over as the monster but has little to do until the last reel. Atwill and Zucco sadly, make only brief appearances in minor roles.

Followed by "House of Dracula" (1945) a similar but inferior film.
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A nice change from the gore-fests of 1999
bekayess21 December 1999
I grew up in the 60s, and my dad introduced me to the Universal Horror movies through TV reruns. Among the attractions: the mysterious atmosphere, the B&W photography, the convincing and committed performances, the occasional wit and humor. These films never fail to please me and put me in a good mood, and this one is one of my favorites. Lots of fun with the monsters, moods and music. Call me old-fashioned, but I'd rather watch just one of these old chestnuts than a year's worth of Freddies, Jasons, etc.
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There goes the neighborhood!
evilskip12 August 1999
In 1943 Universal teamed up Frankenstein and the Wolfman and made a fortune. So the theory was if the public loved 2 monsters, let's toss five at them!!Strangely enough this works.

The mad doctor Niemann(Boris Karloff) and his hunchback assistant are locked in prison. Seems the old doc was doing some rather frowned upon experiments. A convenient lightning bolt destroys the prison walls and the doctor and his hunchback escape.

They are picked up by Lampini's travelling sideshow.The hunchback kills the owner and the doctor takes his place. They head to the town that vilified the mad doctor years before.

Without giving too much away the doctor stumbles upon Dracula(John Carradine),Wolfman (Lon Chaney) & the Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange).They all figure into his plot of revenge against the men who sent him to prison.

This movie has a wonderful sense of lunacy to it.Boris gives a fine performance as Niemann.Carradine gives his first portrayal of Dracula. (Always found him to be extremely hammy).Chaney of course gives a tortured air to Larry Talbot, the Wolfman.

Many critics felt that too many monsters spoiled the brew.But Dracula & the Monster are really nothing more than extended cameos.If you sit back and just enjoy the ride the movie accomplishes what it set out to do and that is just entertain. Gets an 8.
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The Gang Is All Here
BaronBl00d23 July 2000
House of Frankenstein was the first of the monster free for alls with all three Universal monster legends, the Frankenstein monster, the wolfman, and Dracula. It is not the most coherent story around, but you won't care because the film has a brisk pace, imaginative scenes, creative sets, and some first-rate acting. Boris Karloff plays a doctor in the Dr. Frankenstein tradition trying to resurrect the Monster and appease the wolfman by finding him a path to death. He is the epitome of evil and has no moral compass whatsoever. Karloff does a fine job in his role, and Lon Chaney, as ever saddened at his lunar plight, does a wonderful job again as Larry Talbot(his third time in the role). Glenn Strange plays the monster..and plays him well although really has little to do in the film till the last five minutes. Dracula is played by John Carradine. The shining stars of the cast, however, are J. Carroll Naish playing a poor murdering hunchback with low self-esteem, and the bubbly and beautiful Elena Verdugo as a gypsy girl. Naish gives a very poignant portrayal. Look for cameos by Lionel Atwill and George Zucco(wish his part had been larger). House of Frankenstein is a great film in the Universal tradition of its monsters and mayhem. One of its other outstanding virtues is its famous score.
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House of Frankenstein (1944) ***
JoeKarlosi1 September 2004
This is the first time Universal Studios tried a Monster Mash by incorporating three of their most popular creatures into one film: Dracula, The Wolf Man and Frankenstein's Monster. The results are quite good, mostly due to the performers chosen for their parts. This is not supposed to be sophisticated film-making or storytelling; just a fun ghoulish romp, perfectly suited for a Halloween Night. And it succeeds admirably.

Boris Karloff returned to the Frankenstein Series with this installment, and it's an asset to the picture to have him. Some fans have accused him of walking through his part as a mad scientist here, but I've always found this to be a very understated kind of calculated evil, and he's very good here. He portrays the mad Dr. Niemann, who once dared to follow in the footsteps of the original Frankenstein, and as a result was jailed for his unethical experiments along with his hunchbacked assistant, Daniel. When a severe thunderstorm destroys the foundation of the prison he's housed in, Niemann manages an escape and attempts to locate the original diary of Dr. Frankenstein, running into Dracula, the Wolf Man, and the Frankenstein Monster along the way.

J. Carrol Naish scores high points with his portrayal of the sympathetic hunchbacked assistant to Karloff, and manages to stir up our emotions as he pines away for cute gypsy girl Elena Verdugo. Lon Chaney plays The Wolf Man for a third time here, and though he's saddled with some silly dialogue ("why have you freed me from the ice that imprisoned the beast that lived within me?") he has now made the tragic character of Larry Talbot the werewolf all his own. He is desperate to aid Dr. Niemann however he can, in the hopes that the scientist may be able to return the favor by curing him of his curse.

John Carradine is exceptional as Dracula, playing the part differently than Bela Lugosi had. What Carradine lacked in the creepy "otherworldliness" of Bela, he made up for with aristocratic evil. His physical look is actually much closer to how Bram Stoker described the character in his novel, "Dracula". Glenn Strange takes on the role of the hulking and imposing Frankenstein Monster for the first time, and is the next best to Karloff's interpretation of the creature, in terms of appearance. Hans J. Salter again provides a wonderfully haunting music score. Director Erle C. Kenton accentuates the proceedings with gloomy sets, dark nights and the customary thunder and lightning.

This monster fest is light and breezy, packing much into its brief 70 minute running time. If there is any quibble to be made for HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, it would be with regard to the episodic way in which its three monsters are worked into the plot. Dracula has an early segment all his own, and then the second half switches to the Wolf Man and the Frankenstein Monster. None of the creatures cross paths with another, and their screen time as ghouls is limited (especially the case for the Monster). But this is just a technicality; for those who don't go into it expecting High Art, there is still much fun to be had within the House of Frankenstein. *** out of ****
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Sum Parts Add Up Better Than the Whole!
jbirtel14 October 2002
This has some of the best vintage sequences in the series, great George Robinson photography, eerie sets and a nice score from Hans J Salter that expands on the previous entries. And everyone does their professional best to spout the inane dialogue they're saddled with. What's wrong is the silly story that surrounds the events. A movie that promises a Monster Mash results in a collection of Monster cameos.

This is a semi remake of 'Son of Frankenstein', where broken-neck Ygor used the Monster to exact his revenge. This time around, it's mad scientist Karloff (with hunchback Naish) doing the same on those who imprisoned him. But the only 'monsters' used as his proxy for revenge are Dracula and Daniel. The Wolf Man and Frankenstein's Monster show up just long enough to do their snarls before being dispatched. A nice touch was the triangle love between Talbot, the gypsy Ilonka and Daniel. And like 'Ghost of Frankenstein', there's a difference of opinion on who should be the recipient of whose brain.

But this movie is still fun, probably because it's based more on my nostalgic memories from the first time I saw it as a kid rather than my harsh adult perception. (A & C Meet Frankenstein I saw 1st, at 5 yrs old...another movie with all these monsters in it??...too cool! [just my silly 6 yr old opinion].

This one has the best 'Wolf Man' make-up and man-to-beast transformation (the footprints & the mirror sequence). Carradine's turn as Dracula is very good, but you can't help but wonder if only Lugosi had been allowed to reprise his most famous role. And for his limited input, Strange does just fine as the Monster (better than what Chaney and Lugosi did with the role in the last two) helped by Karloff's coaching on how the monster moved and walked. And it's complete with gypsies, a castle, fog forests and an angry mob (again).

So just grab some popcorn; and double up with Universal's 'House of Dracula' for a fun double feature. Just don't swallow too hard.

A nostalgic 6 out of 10!
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Fun, fast paced, monster rally!
chillercinema28 November 1999
Okay, let's get this straight right off the slab - not the best Universal monster movie ever made, but tons of fun! Gets an extra star due to sheer number of monsters in the film; Boris Karloff as the mad scientist, Lon Chaney Jr. as the wolfman, J. Carol Naish as the hunchback, Glen Strange as the monster, and John Carradine as Dracula! Whew! And they manage to pull it all off convincingly. What more could one ask for? This is a fun, fast paced, monster rally. Check it out - if you enjoy the Universal monster movies, you'll love this one.
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Not bad Universal horror
preppy-319 March 2001
Mad scientist Boris Karloff escapes from prison with hunchbacked assistant Daniel (J. Carrol Naish). He plans revenge against the men who put him there and wants to revive the Frankenstein monster. Along the way they revive Dracula (John Carradine) and Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) pops up as the Wolf Man. Silly but enjoyable all-star monster mash. Naish, Karloff, Carradine are all very good as is Elena Verdugo as a gypsy who falls in love with Talbot. Chaney Jr. just walks through his role. No great shakes (or scares) but there's tons of atmosphere, beautiful sets, pretty good special effects and it moves quickly. Worth seeing.
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Karloff's House of Horrors,should have been Frankenstein meets The Wolf Man 2 though
HaddonfieldJason18 February 2004
Boris Karloff returns to the Frankenstein series after being away for five years,he doesnt play the monster,but a mad scientist,named Gustav Nieman. He has a friend named Daniel,they are both condemned to life in prison,for expierments very similar to that of Dr.Frankenstein. Once they are busted loose,they kill a Professor Lampenni a head of a travelling show of horrors.Then they make their way to Vasiara now a village in all most every Frankenstein,and Wolf Man movie. On the way they resurrect Dracula. Whom is played very badly by John Carridine. I would have liked to see Bela Lugosi,but his talent would be wasted here.Dracula falls for a young lady,and tries to make his move,Nieman uses Dracula to kill those who sent him to prison. When the young lady's husband,goes to rescue her,Nieman afraid of being caught throws Dracula's coffin out of Lampenni's wagon,Dracula is killed by the sunlight. Once they reach Vasaria,they meet a gypsy show,Daniel falls for a beauitful young gypsy. They bring her with on their journey. Once Nieman reaches the Frankenstein ruin,he resurrects Laurnece Talbot,and The Frankenstein Monster,to do more of his evil bidding...

House of Frankenstein will never reach up to Whale's Frankenstein,or Bride of Frankenstein,Browing's Dracula,or Waggner's Wolf Man,but it is fun,and a good pop corn film. Lon Chaney Jr is in his top act here as The Wolf Man. Glenn Strange is actually a good Frankenstein monster,if he were given more screen time,I`m sure he would have been an excellent monster. Karloff is in the top of his game as the mad doctor. He is insane,and a dishonest man. Though the plot is cheesy,the movie still is rather enjoyable. The Dracula plot doesnt work much,it just should have been a Frankenstein meets Wolf Man 2

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very inconsistent but fun
MartinHafer30 March 2006
The movie begins with evil Dr. Gustav Niemann and his sidekick, Daniel roaming the countryside doing evil and making a few bucks on the side. It's a simple life traveling the countryside and creating mayhem, but somebody's gotta do it, right?! Well, the maniacal doctor has a lot of unforeseen luck, as he stumbles first upon the skeleton of Dracula (who he wisely decides to revive). For some odd reason, the long-dead Dracula comes back not as Bela Lugosi but John Carradine. While a decent enough villain, it just made no sense why Lugosi didn't reprise the role. Anyway, they later discover the Frankenstein monster and the Wolfman frozen in a cave (since their last film) and spend much of their time trying to revive them--so they can kick butt and spread terror. Well, they did not foresee that the Wolfman, when in the form of nice-guy Larry Talbot, didn't want to spread terror and death (shucks). Well, the plan is shot and evil is thwarted. Cool.

Strengths of the film are the evil doctor--he's a really nasty menace, having three monsters instead of the usual one and the fact that it is a Universal horror film with all its campy fun. The weaknesses are that the series is getting a little old, the pathos concerning Daniel falling for the gypsy girl is a tad annoying, and John Carradine just isn't and never could be Dracula!
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Let's Hear It For Karloff!
ES-III8 November 2002
House of Frankenstein features Lon Chaney Jr. and John Carradine alongside the masterful Boris Karloff -- who is absolutely amazing for sheer presence alone -- as an enthusiastic, budding mad-scientist named Dr. Niemann who escapes from prison after a bolt of lightning inexplicably strikes the granite reformatory that he and his servant -- a hunchback assistant played by J. Carrol Naish -- are bound in.

Fortunately, after his escape, Niemann comes across the creepy Professor Bruno Lampini, who is conveniently taking a traveling show of horrors across the country. His main attraction is the skeletal remains of Count Dracula (complete with wooden stake jutting from ribs). As expected, Niemann kills Lampini, poses as the renowned crackpot, and revives the vampire (played by a 'princely' young Carradine), who, in turn, takes revenge on one of Niemann's enemies as a favor. Oh, and then Dracula dies like a wussy and his dull little role is over as if it never existed since it never helped move along or even remotely create a plot out of this revolving-door mishmash of monster cameos (read on).

Though this is essentially a sequel to 1943's Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman, the title sort of refers to Neimann's aspiration to carry on Dr. Henry Frankenstein's work (speaking of which, the Monster doesn't appear until about 45 minutes into the film), though Neimann's objectives are never quite revealed to the viewer. Nevertheless, while exploring the ruins of the great doctor's decimated Vasarian castle and to generate some semblance of plot, Neimann finds the monster offspring of Frankenstein frozen in a block of ice near the Wolfman (Chaney), who is quickly unthawed and put to work by Neimann. For some reason, the escaped doctor intends to switch the brain of Frankenstein's Monster with the brain of the Wolf Man, which, in itself, might have been funny. I just wonder if the Wolfman's curse would have followed the brain or the body, and how a Wolfman with poor motor-skills would have convincingly frightened someone - `I'll rip you to shreds like a wild dog as soon as I make my way over to the other side of this room!')

Again, aside from revenge, I couldn't really detect a plot, and the film has the single most abrupt ending I've ever seen! Plus, Frankenstein's Monster (played by cowboy actor Glenn Strange rather than Karloff) does absolutely nothing as the film plods on! Besides getting to toss a hunchback through a window (and who doesn't enjoy doing just that every now and again), he descends - quite dramatically -- into quicksand and lies around comatose the rest of the time (how about a cross-promotion film with the Weekend At Bernie's franchise -- Bernie Does Vasaria?).

As the famous Universal Studios monsters continued to parade out, I began to think of the marketing possibilities this film might have had if the whole state of affairs would have been placed in the here-and-now - playsets, lunch-boxes, limited-edition bobble-heads, House of Frankenstein-flavored fruit bars, Taco Bell Wolfman Burrito tie-ins, Dr. Neimann chemistry sets, etc.! In short, House of Frankenstein was obviously a crass attempt to bleed quick dollars out of a highly profitable franchise. There was no attempt at veiled artistry, and you can almost hear executives counting out the money beneath the hackneyed layer of canned shrieks! On a lighter note, the film would have easily qualified for 'self-parody' status with a bonus appearance from the Mummy! I certainly wouldn't have been surprised if he had been worked into the plot somewhere!!

Despite all the film's shortcomings, I was truly mesmerized by Karloff's hammy staging. In fact, his best performance comes during the film's opening scene, where his peculiar character strangles a prison guard for a piece of chalk just so he can continue to draw scientific diagrams on his wall. If only a screenwriter had been so arduous with the script for this film!
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An "odd" film.
Norm-306 February 2000
Instead of being the usual "monster-fest", the film focuses on Boris Karloff, who uses the creatures to murder the people who sent him to an asylum.

The "Dracula" bit (in the beginning of the film) doesn't quite seem to "fit" the film; it looks as if it was added as an after-thought. (Plus, Carradine's Dracula is VERY "sloppy" about self-preservation; he is "discovred" and destroyed in the very beginning of the film. I don't think that LUGOSI'S Dracula would've let that happen! I wonder if that's why Lugosi

didn't play Dracula).

A new "twist" is added to the "killing a werewolf with a silver bullet" must be done by someone "who loves him enuff to do it".

The Frankenstein monster is "wasted", too -- only coming to life in the last 10 mins. of the film.

But, forget all it's shortcomings. Just sit back and enjoy Karloff's performance. (I like the bit where he tries to strangle the asylum guard for a piece of chalk!).

An "odd little film". Norm
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Dark, atmospheric chiller
Elswet12 February 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I must admit that I loved this movie, mainly for the mere presence of Karloff and Chaney. Their performance, to Me, was excellent fare. I was not very impressed with Frankenstein's monster here, but that in no way took away from the final product.

This was an excellent addition to the Universal line with John Carradine as Dracula, Chaney reprising his role as the Wolf Man, and Glenn Strange as the monster. Karloff was on the other side of the controls in this venture, and he was just as good here in the role of the doctor as he was in previous attempts as the monster.

This is a most deserving sequel in the Universal Frankentein line, and definitely one for the collection. This was purchased as part of Universal's Frankenstein Legacy Collection box set; a wonderful way to own all 5 of the Universal Frankenstein installments.

Simply excellent.

It rates an 8.9/10 from...

the Fiend :.
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Karloff does a great job in this enjoyable horror film...
Neil Doyle21 May 2001
Boris Karloff has a fine time playing the evil Dr. Niemann who escapes from prison with his hunchback assistant (J. Carrol Naish) and seeks revenge on those who sent him there. The plot involves three of the Universal monsters--Dracula (John Carradine), Frankenstein monster (Glenn Strange) and the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney, Jr.)

It's all done in the usual atmospheric style with some impressive sets and photography. Good support from Anne Gwynne, Elena Verdugo and Lionel Atwill. Verdugo is a gypsy girl loved by the hunchback assistant, Naish, who plays his role extremely well. She, in turn, has a yen for the self-pitying Wolf Man.

Despite the presence of three monsters, it is Boris Karloff who dominates the film from the start. As soon as he overtakes the director of a traveling chamber of horrors, the film gets off to a brisk start and never fails to entertain. A good entry in the horror cycle.
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doing the monster mash....
simeon_flake22 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The name "Frankenstein" is displayed in the film's title--though by this point in the Universal monster series, the Heinrich Frankenstein family tree had apparently dried up of all sons and grandsons/daughters. I can only assume that most movie-going audiences in the '40s were calling the monster by the F-name--so that may explain the title; a better hook to draw in the matinée audiences.

After stewing in what must have been a very ancient dungeon--since the mere rumble of thunder sends the place crashing down--mad scientist Gustav Niemann (Boris Karloff) and his hunchback friend Daniel overtake a traveling chamber of horrors, with the show's main attraction being the preserved skeleton of Count Dracula--with stake still lodged between his skeletal remains. Of course, this being a horror picture, you know it won't be too long before that stake gets removed. Later on--in a very impressive ice cavern set--two frozen dainties known as the Wolf Man & the Frankenstein monster are discovered & thawed out.

Interesting how all the main characters in this movie get killed. No one--no matter how pretty they may be(the gypsy girl)--gets spared. All the monsters die, leaving me to wonder if Universal didn't plan for this to be the end of the horror cycle. At least then we would've been spared House Of Dracula.
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More than meets the eye
Al Westerfield23 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
While you may think you've seen all the horror actors in House of Frankenstein - Karloff, Carridine, Zucco, Atwell, Naish, Chaney Jr. and Strange - think again. There are three other actors well known for these kinds of films, and pretty well known at that. When Karloff kidnaps Ullman and Strauss, they're played by Frank Reicher and Michael Mark. Look at the footage again and you'll spot them. Reicher, of course, was the ship's captain in King Kong but among his seemingly hundreds of roles he appeared in Night Monster, The Mummy's Tomb, The Face Behind the Mask, Dr. Cyclops, Devil Doll, The Invisible Ray and others. Mark appeared in The Mummy's Hand, Tower of London, Son of Frankenstein, The Black Room, The Black Cat and as Little Maria's father in Frankenstein. The doctor who tells us that the victim's throat was ripped out by an animal, Dr. Geissler, is played by Brandon Hurst, best remembered as the butler Silver in White Zombie. However, he had much larger roles in such silent horrors as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Man Who Laughs and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. In fact he shared scenes with most of the Hollywood elite from that era.

So next time you watch House of Frankenstein, play a little Where's Waldo to try to spot these wonderful character actors.
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Monster Rally.
AaronCapenBanner23 October 2013
Boris Karloff returns to the series, but as Dr. Niemann, a disciple of the Frankenstein legend, who escapes from his prison with his hunchbacked assistant Daniel(played by J. Carol Naish). They take over Professor Lampini's(played by George Zucco) traveling coach of horrors, containing the skeleton of Count Dracula(played by John Carradine, a different version than Lugosi's), which is revived by Dr. Niemann, who forces him to do his bidding. After Dracula is destroyed by the authorities, they later stumble upon the frozen bodies of both The Wolf Man(played by Lon Chaney Jr.) and the Frankenstein monster(played by Glenn Strange)Niemann promises Larry Talbot to help him with his curse, but is really only interested in the monster. After taking on an abused gypsy girl named Ilonka(played by Elena Verdugo) they make their way to his old laboratory, where the big operation will take place, but of course things will go wrong...

Entertaining sequel is undeniably contrived, but quite clever, with a good cast and interesting story and characters. There was no need for Dracula to be here, since this brings in too much of the supernatural into the series, where it really doesn't fit. Still, this is the best "Frankenstein" sequel of the 1940's. Exciting climax, memorable end, though it's a pity the story didn't end here...
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A fun romp with little substance
DPMay17 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
After the relative box office success of the earlier "Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man", Universal clearly realised there was more mileage in their horror series by combining the various elements.

The promise of Dracula, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein's Monster all interacting in one adventure is a mouth-watering prospect for any horror fan, but in reality it doesn't happen here.

The big flaw of "The House Of Frankenstein" is its structure: it is essentially two different tales, linked by Boris Karloff's central character of Doctor Niemann, the latest in a seemingly endless line of scientists with a habit of putting brain transplant surgery ahead of moral ethics on their list of priorities.

After a nice intro sequence which establishes the characters of Niemann and his hunchbacked friend Daniel (J Carrol Naish), we then see the pair escape their prison and rather fortuitously stumble upon a travelling show which just so happens to contain Dracula's corpse. Even though we were led to believe that Dracula's corpse was burned (in the film "Dracula's Daughter"), Niemann has no trouble restoring the vampire to undead life in the form of the suave John Carradine, whose tall, gaunt appearance lends itself well to the character. We then get a rather lightweight 15 minute episode in which Dracula does his usual routine of turning into a bat and sucking blood from innocent people at the behest of Niemann who has some old scores to settle. When Dracula finds himself being chased by an angry mob, Niemann leaves him to his fate and then goes on to the next town and the next adventure, which finds him discovering the frozen bodies of the Wolf Man and Frankenstein's monster.

So begins the movie proper and the characters' motives all come into play. Niemann wants revenge on those who incarcerated him and plans to do so by putting their brains into the bodies of the monsters he has just revived. Daniel has fallen for a Gypsy girl, Ilonka, who likes him but finds his physical appearance distasteful, so he wants to be given a new body. The ideal choice, he feels, would be the body of cursed werewolf Larry Talbot (once more played by Lon Chaney Jr, who conveys the burden of his affliction superbly) since Ilonka is smitten by him. Talbot only wants Niemann to put him out of his misery permanently so that he can finally escape the curse of being a werewolf.

The love triangle between Daniel, Ilonka and Talbot is probably the closest this film comes to having a meaningful plot and whilst it's handled competently, it's all rather too rushed for it have any depth, a knock-on effect from having too many elements in the one film and from devoting a quarter of the movie to an unrelated Dracula storyline. Whilst Talbot as a character plays a significant part in the proceedings, his alter ego the Wolf Man has very little to do and is barely seen. And if you're wondering why I haven't mentioned the Frankenstein Monster much yet, that's because the same is true of him. From his introduction half way through the film he lies dormant on a bench in a laboratory, and only springs into life 5 minutes from the end. He doesn't encounter Dracula, he doesn't encounter the Wolf Man... But he does encounter yet another mob of torch-bearing villagers (see most of his previous film appearances).

All in all, House Of Frankenstein oddly chooses to circumnavigate its biggest selling points. With so many interesting characters and actors in the film (including Lionel Atwill, George Zucco in regrettably small roles), a better storyline giving the monsters more involvement might not only have paid dividends, it could have re-ignited the whole Universal monster series. As it is, it's more of a Boris Karloff-as-a-mad-scientist film. Not a bad thing, as Karloff is always interesting to watch, but definitely a missed opportunity.
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The ghouls are altogether now.
mylimbo8 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Dr. Gustav Niemann and his hunchback assistant Daniel have been jailed for their hideous crimes involving out-there experiments influenced by Dr. Frankenstein's work, but a storm causes the prison there in to collapse, which allows them to escape. They disguise themselves as some sideshow workers after killing the owner. What this show is parading is the bones of Dracula in his coffin, so Niemann accidentally revives Dracula by removing the stake. Niemann heads to Frankenstein's castle in the hope of finding Frankenstein's records, but he comes across "The Wolf Man" and Frankenstein frozen in ice. Wanting to find these notes, he thaws out the monsters, in the hope that they would help him and in turn he'll do the same for them. Larry Talbot takes up the offer, but the doctor's intentions are a little more deceiving. While also in the mix is a young gypsy girl that Daniel likes, but she falls for Talbot.

"House Of Frankenstein" is pretty much second-rate when compared to the earlier Universal Frankenstein films, but what it lacks in classy elegance and importance, it makes up for in inventive style and sheer amusement. Although there's no much of a relationship between this film to the earlier Frankenstein efforts. As there's no Frankenstein family members written in. Writer Curt Siodmark's story is a silly (and at times unusual) b-grade splash that wants to incorporate the three iconic monsters (plus another two fiends being a mad doctor and hunchback) into the central story, but honestly it's made up of separate chapters that solely focuses on that specific character and their actions then really melding into a consistent one. Even with it's busy and contrived structure, it does keep a good rhythm and never feels overpopulated with its ideas. I actually find the opening half to be more interesting then the second half. Despite the title, if I was Frankenstein. I'll feel cheated, as he gets very little to do and on the other side of the coin. The Dracula segment just came and went in such an anticlimactic build up, which is disappointing, because the very palatable John Carradine nails down the part. His gaunt appearance and piercing stare adds to the charismatic appeal. The lightweight script keeps it quite lively and soaks up many wonderful dialogues and interactions with the right amount of conviction. It plays pretty much like a tragic play that cooks up captivating pawn-like situations, where the doctor basically uses everyone for his own gain. What we get is far from horror, but more of a comedy in the material's execution.

Erle C. Kenton's direction is quickly paced, slickly tailored and to the point with his memorable visuals (nice silhouette work) and set-pieces ( a thrilling stage coach chase). Highlighting that, is the broodingly misty atmospheric shine it boasts from the highly vivid and large scope set-designs and backdrops. Sharply active photography and a strongly composed musical score gives it an hypnotically professional brush. Solid make-up and special effects are worked in accordingly and still crackles with charm. A reliable cast adds another dimension with their fitting chemistry. Borris Karloff this time isn't hidden behind the make-up and neatly hams it up as the selfishly manipulative Dr. Niemann. Although the terrific performance would have to go to J. Carroll Naish's humanely underfoot turn as Daniel the hunchback. Lon Chaney Jr. goes about his trademark character with sad restrained, which is delightfully moving. Glenn Strange gets to wear the make-up of the monster, while he looks it, he doesn't have the same presence when in action. In small support roles is the colourfully vibrant Elena Verdugo, Lionel Atwill, George Zucco, Sig Ruman and Anne Gwynne.

"House Of Frankenstein" is an enthusiastic display of these classic monsters, which makes this outing purely light-hearted fun. Nothing more, nothing less.
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Asinine but amusingly wacky Universal Horror pic
J. Spurlin17 December 2006
Dr. Niemann (Boris Karloff) regales his hunchbacked cellmate Daniel (J. Carroll Naish in a surprisingly tepid performance) with tales of how he had nearly put the brain of a human into a dog. This gives Daniel hope. If brain switcheroos were possible, wouldn't that mean his own brain could be removed to a better home than the misshapen body he's now trapped in? A thunderstorm destroys their prison, and they escape to find refuge in the company of a traveling carnival. It seems the carnival owner (George Zucco) has possession of the skeleton of Count Dracula (John Carradine), who can be revived by removing the wooden stake from the area of his heart. Niemann has the hunchback kill the owner, and then resurrects Dracula to kill those who had sent him to prison.

Dracula has other plans, and his part of the story is resolved 27 minutes into the movie. Later, Niemann and the hunchback encounter a gypsy caravan where Daniel falls in love with a beautiful gypsy girl: shades of Victor Hugo's "Hunchback of Notre Dame." She winds up traveling with them to Frankenstein's ruined castle, where they find Frankenstein's monster (Glenn Strange, his first appearance in this role) and the Wolf Man frozen in ice. Niemann thaws them out, finding the Monster fairly inert and the Wolf Man changed back to the tormented Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.). To Daniel's misery, the gypsy girl falls in love with Talbot, unaware of his lupine alter ego. Meanwhile, Niemann promises both the hunchback and Talbot new bodies; but for some reason he wants to put Talbot's brain into the Monster's body.

Where would Daniel's brain go? Talbot's body? The gypsy girl's? A stray dog's? The movie already has ten times more plot than it needs; maybe this detail got lost. I didn't even mention Sig Ruman as a burgomeister; Peter Coe as his smiley son with a face full of baby fat; or Anne Gwynne as Coe's wife and Dracula's would-be mistress. Oh, and Lionel Atwill returns as the Inspector from "Son of Frankenstein"—but what happened to his mechanical right arm? Now both arms seem to be real.

"Bride of …" and "Son of …" were tongue-in-cheek, but "House of …" is asinine. It has the kind of unintentional surrealism that results not from an artistic mind, but from studio executives demanding that X number of popular elements go into their new product. It reminded me of old Saturday morning cartoons like "Jabberjaw," which featured a shark ("Jaws" was popular) that talked like Curly (the Three Stooges), complained that he got no respect (Rodney Dangerfield), and solved mysteries ("Scooby Doo") with a teen rock band ("Josie and Pussycats"). Here we get: The Mad Scientist! Frankenstein's Monster! The Hunchback! Dracula! The Wolf Man!

You can't hate a movie this wacky, especially when isolated scenes are effective. (The Wolf Man always frightens me, even when he meets Abbott and Costello.) But you have to wonder what James Whale would have done had he been forced to cram all these monsters into a single movie. Would the project have dispirited him, or would he have created something even more weird and wonderful than "Bride of Frankenstein"?
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House of Frankenstein
Scarecrow-884 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Escaping Neustadt prison(after a terrible storm appropriately capsizes their prison cells)with hunchback Daniel(J Carrol Naish), the evil Dr. Niemann(Boris Karloff), a scientist, and follower of Frankenstein's work, wishes to find his idol's records wherever they might be. Niemann will murder Professor Lampini(George Zucco, rather wasted in a VERY minor role)taking his identity of traveling promoter for his "Chamber of Horrors". Desiring revenge for being sent to prison, Niemann first sets his sights on the village of Reigelberg to kill Burgomeister Hussman(Sig Ruman). Lampini had removed the skeletal remains of Dracula as an exhibit, with the stake still firmly wedged in his heart. Niemann removes the stake promising he'll watch over Dracula's coffin at night if the vampire murders Hussman. Under the disguise of Baron Latos, Dracula(John Carradine, quite effective in his limited screen time)will do as Niemann wishes but makes the mistake of pursuing Hussman's married granddaughter Rita(Anne Gwynne)..

Upon stopping at Frankenstein village, Daniel lusts after a pretty dancing gypsy ,Ilonka(Elena Verdugo)and saves her from the whipping of a thief. Coercing Niemann to carry her along, Ilonka will join them upward to Frankenstein's castle ruins. Niemann and Daniel find The Monster and The Wolf Man Larry Talbot(Lon Chaney, Jr, still weary and sorrowful for having his affliction, but the sympathy for this character is waning..)encased in blocks of ice underneath Frankenstein's castle. Niemann releases them from their temporary tombs, promising to cure Talbot of his affliction if he helps find Frankenstein's records. They head for Niemann's laboratory in Visaria where, on the journey, Ilonka and Talbot fall in love with Daniel growing jealous of this budding relationship and Niemann's not fixing his body as promised. Niemann, in fact, promised Daniel the body of an Adonis. With Niemann only concerned with revenge against two assistants who betrayed him to police, regarding his experiments, for wages and bringing strength back to the Monster, both Talbot and Daniel grow impatient and angry. Talbot hopes that Ilonka will kill him with a silver bullet and Daniel will finally confront Niemann once and for all regarding not doing as he promised..

Episodic which really is the only method when trying to form a movie with so many characters. My favorite part of the film has Carradine as Dracula. I thought he looked the part..completely sinister with a strong presence on screen. I was actually quite disappointed when his part in the movie was over. I think Naish captures that sympathy quite well taking a completely different approach to his hunchback than Dwight Frye. Karloff captures that menace with is good that he freed himself from further Universal monster movies, though.

Fun, but a far cry in quality from the earlier Frankenstein films.
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"They Did the Mash, They Did The Monster Mash..."
babeth_jr1 April 2006
This is a very fun movie from start to finish. Boris Karloff portrays the evil Dr. Niemann, who along with his hunchback assistant Daniel (portrayed with sensitivity by J. Carrol Nash) escapes from prison and decides to resurrect the Frankenstein monster in order to have the monster kill the men who sentenced him to prison. Along the way they run into Dracula, played by the sinister John Carradine, (who was good in every role he played, no matter how ridiculous the part) and also the Wolfman, played once again by Lon Chaney Jr., in his 3rd outing as the tormented Larry Talbott. The movie also includes Elena Verdugo, portraying a gypsy girl who is thrown in the mix for a romantic love triangle between the wolf man and the hunchback assistant. Glen Strange portrays the Frankenstein monster and really has little to do except towards the end of the film. This movie is so much fun because of all the monsters. They just need the mummy and the invisible man along to make the monster roster complete!!! Enjoy!
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THE Monster Mash
Considered a cult campy classic, "House of Frankenstein" is Universal's attempt to make cash by putting 5 monsters on film, in a direct sequel to "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man". Strange enough, it is not as bad as it sounds.

Legendary Boris Karloff plays the mad scientist, Dr. Niemann, who was imprisoned because of his bizarre experiments. Durng a storm, he and his assistant Daniel the Hunchback (J. Carrol Naish) manage to escape, and decide to find Dr. Frankenstein's diaries in order to learn from his discoveries.

In his travel, they will find count Dracula (John Carradine), the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr.) and Frankenstein's monster himself (Glenn Strange). As silly as it sounds, the movie works, mainly because of the power of the actors, as well as Erle C. Kenton's direction, who manages to do here what he failed to attempt in his last horror, "Ghost of Frankenstein".

In this movie, Kenton uses his characters the way he always wanted, with more humor and less horror, fulfilling the slow transformation of the franchise from Gothic horror to campy comedy. Boris Karloff is superb as the scientist and shows his wide range as an actor. He was certainly more than his famous role of the monster in the first three Frankenstein movies.

Lon Chaney Jr. continues in his classic role as the tormented Larry Talbot, and while both John Carradine and Glenn Strange receive very few screen time, their appearance is well received.

The main problem of the movie is that with the exception of the Wolf Man and the Hunchback, the rest of the characters receives very little development. While Karloff makes a great job, his character remains as mysterious as he started, and the creature and Dracula are almost reduced to cameos that serve to move the plot.

Nevertheless, the movie manage to deliver the fun it promises, as it never gets tiresome or boring. Viewed as a horror movie, it certainly fails to impress, but honestly, this works better as dark comedy. 6/10
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Probably the silliest of the Universal horror movies ...
Noel (Teknofobe70)16 August 2005
Four Frankenstein movies, four Dracula movies, two Wolf Man movies, and still we wanted more. And, well, I guess it was about time they put all three monsters together in one movie.

It's all wonderfully silly ... an insane doctor called Gustav Niemann manages to escape from a lunatic asylum along with his hunchback assistant, and decides to continue the work of Frankenstein. By pure chance he happens to run across a travelling circus which happens to have the genuine skeleton of Count Dracula. It isn't long before he slaughters the circus folk and removes the stake from the vampire's heart, reviving him. He then makes his way to the castle of Frankenstein and in a glacial ice cavern he discovers both Frankenstein's monster and the Wolf Man frozen in ice. He thaws them and takes them back to his laboratory, promising new life for the monster and a cure for the Wolf Man. But a beautiful gypsy girl causes conflict between them ...

While the story for this one comes from Curt Siodmak, the team of director Erle C. Kenton and scriptwriter Edward T. Lowe Jr. created both the "House of Frankenstein" and the "House of Dracula" sequels. The only one of the monsters that's actually still being played by the same actor here is Lon Chaney Jr's Wolf Man. Boris Karloff appears, but not as the Frankenstein monster. Instead he plays Doctor Niemann (who amusingly gets called a 'would-be Frankenstein' in the first scene), while Glenn Strange plays the monster. But fear not -- both turn in excellent performances all the same, with Glenn Strange proving himself to be such a great choice for Frankenstein that he would return again in "House of Dracula" and "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein".

J. Carrol Naish is also noteworthy as Niemann's hunchback assistant. However, this was John Carradine's first appearance as Dracula, and he's barely even slightly creepy. He's not a patch on Bela Lugosi (although much better then some of the other actors who portrayed Dracula), and the "vampire bat" effects are as bad as ever, if not worse. Thankfully he only has a very small part anyway. And considering the movie is called "House of Frankenstein", Frankenstein doesn't have a very big part either, but what small screen time he has is particularly memorable -- the climax is one of the most thrilling out of any of the Universal monster movies. The Wolf Man is the more interesting and sympathetic character, so once again he has the most screen time.

This is an entertaining movie that throws in everything but the kitchen sink. Fans of the Universal monster movies will be suitably thrilled by it, regardless of how silly it all is.
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