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MORD39 RATING: **1/2 out of ****
HOUSE OF DRACULA is a small notch below the previous HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, mostly because the novelty of the three monsters theme feels repetitive. Just the same, it's much fun and a fitting conclusion to the "serious" monster pictures in a beloved series.
John Carradine is capable again as Dracula, but Lon Chaney's Wolfman stint is really automatic by now. Once again, Glenn Strange is an impressive Frankenstein Monster, albeit a brief one for the last minute or two. The real attraction this time is Onslow Stevens in the role of a kindly sympathetic doctor who sets out to "cure" Dracula and the Wolfman, but ultimately becomes a sort of Jekyll/Hyde as a result of his efforts. Stevens is excellent in this film, and takes center stage.
Still, there is a feeling of "yesterday's leftovers" with the film. Stock footage is lifted again from GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN and BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, and there is a general aura around the proceedings which suggests that it was thrown together more hastily.
These negative comments in no way make for an unsatisfactory view, however...HOUSE OF DRACULA is the last of its line, and still an essential Universal Horror.
House of Dracula is another of the series of all-star monster extravaganzas
produced by Universal in the 40s.
This one deals with The Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr.) and Dracula (John Carradine) coming to scientist Onslow Stevens for a cure for what ails them. Along the way they find the Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange) and try to help him as well. Well, we all know that things will not go smoothly and the monsters will soon be running amok.
Carradine, playing Dracula for the second time, is quite effective in the role. He gives it his own interpretation and doesn't try to copy Bela Lugosi. Chaney gives a sympathetic performance as the doomed Lawrence Talbot. Stevens, in a rare leading role, also stands out as the doctor. The Frankenstein monster has little to do until the final minutes of the film.
As monster films go, this isn't one of the all-time greats, but on the other hand it does provide 67 minutes of solid entertainment.
House of Dracula works from the same basic premise as House of
Frankenstein from the year before; namely that Universal's three most
famous monsters; Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster and The Wolf Man are
appearing in the movie together. Naturally, the film is rather messy
therefore, but the fact that all three monsters are there is usually
enough to ensure that the film's sixty seven minutes don't become
boring. It's obvious that the idea of making another monster mash came
into the writer's head before an actual plot did, as the yarn we're
given isn't exactly without holes. The plot sees Count Dracula arrive
at Dr. Edelman's home asking for a cure for his vampirism. Then, what
can only be described as a coincidence, sees Lawrence Talbot, a.k.a.
The Wolf Man turn up asking for a cure for his affliction! It turns out
that Dracula is on the prowl for Edelman's daughter, but Talbot really
is serious. When it turns out that he can't be stopped from turning
into a wolf, The Wolf Man throws himself into the sea...where he ends
up finding Frankenstein's Monster.
Overall, this film isn't as good as the earlier House of Frankenstein. The 1944 film put its plot together better than this entry in the series does, as the plot here doesn't give equal time to each Universal monster. Dracula's plot is the biggest at first, but soon fizzles out only to resurface at the end. The Wolf Man is the star of the show, but his story never really develops, and is essentially just another version of the plot he always finds himself in. Frankenstein's Monster is given the coldest hand, as he appears in the movie merely as an afterthought, and an obvious excuse to ensure that all three monsters appear in the movie. The story of the doctor who binds all three together is the most interesting, but this is a little disappointing as he isn't the reason why people will see this film. The acting is good enough, with John Carradine showing his sinister side and Lon Chaney Jr once again making sure that his character is bathed in tragedy. Glenn Strange is given nothing to do, and Onslow Stevens proves the real highlight as Dr Edelman. Overall, this film won't do much for anyone that isn't a fan of Universal horror; but as silly monster movies go, House of Dracula is worth seeing.
Much of what is written here is useful, but I'd like to add a few comments. Interestingly for Universal horror fans, House of Dracula is the only film in the Frankenstein series that does not star Karloff or Lugosi. The absence of these two horror heavyweights makes the film seem more disjointed than other entries (though still fun.) (John Carradine, I think scores best, while Mr. Chaney, Jr., is merely repeating himself. House of D also introduces a female hunchback!) I wonder if Karloff and Lugosi are both absent because they were working on "The Body Snatcher," which was released the same year and is arguably Karloff's last great horror film.
There has been a debate raging for Universal Monster fans over the
decades as to what's the better film -- "House of Frankenstein" or
"House of Dracula"? For me, I may prefer HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, but I
certainly wouldn't count out an evening with this one, the final
"serious" entry in Universal's classic monster series. It's still
pretty good, though I feel its main problem is just being a victim of
familiarity and nowhere else to really go at this stage. At least
"Frankenstein" was a fresh idea at the time, while "Dracula" repeats
the old formula again and reveals that our favorite cherished monsters
had reached their limitations.
Dracula (John Carradine) arrives at the home of the kindly Dr. Edelmann (Onslow Stevens) to seek a cure from his vampirism. At the same time, the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney) shows up looking for release from his lycanthropy. Through a series of chaotic events, the warm hearted doctor turns into a Jekyll/Hyde madman and becomes intent on reviving the Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange). Throw in a pretty "hunchback" nurse and you've got what the ads curiously touted as "FIVE Monsters!"
What "House of Dracula" has going for it is more of that vintage Universal atmosphere and soothing music soundtrack, and a superb dual performance from Onslow Stevens as the scientist. John Carradine turns in another fine rendition of his suave Count Dracula, but Lon Chaney's werewolf is pretty much by the books at this point, although the end of the movie contains an interesting little twist for a change. Glenn Strange makes a very awesome-looking Frankenstein Monster, but unfortunately spends 99% of the film lying flat on his back with the exception of a few minor shots when he's up on his feet; some of his most active footage is swiped from BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN.
All things considered you could undoubtedly do a lot worse than "House of Dracula" for a nightly Monster Mash, but it's easy to see why Dracula, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein's Monster were retired after this chapter, and why they needed Abbott & Costello to resuscitate them three years later. **1/2 out of ****
Baron Latos appears to Dr. Edelman (Onslow Stevens) in the middle of
the night and reveals that he's really Count Dracula (John Carradine).
He seeks a cure for his vampirism. A trip to the basement shows that
Dracula has already taken the liberty of moving in - there's his
coffin, filled with the dirt from his own grave. Dr. Edelman takes this
brazenness in stride while refusing to believe in the supernatural.
Later, Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) shows up, asking for a cure
for his lycanthropy. He can't bear to change into a werewolf one more
time. Edelman must save Talbot from a suicide attempt when Talbot
throws himself into the ocean and gets swept into a cave. While in the
cave, Edelman and Talbot find Frankenstein's monster (Glenn Strange).
Edelman decides to revive him, but Talbot and Edelman's hunchbacked
female assistant (Jane Adams) talk him out of it. Meanwhile, Edelman's
other assistant (Martha O'Driscoll) finds herself seduced by Count
Dracula; while Edelman finds the evil count has an even more powerful
influence over his own life.
Dracula's corruption of Edelman adds a Jekyll-and-Hyde type story to this already over-monstered brew. Why didn't they throw in the Mummy and the Invisible Man for the hell of it?
Of all the Universal Horror films that are wacky-idiotic, this is the most entertaining. Stevens is very enjoyable as Edelman; the plot moves fast; a certain character gets his first happy ending; and it's fun to imagine that the real reason Frankenstein's monster is angry is that he sees the movie is almost over and he hasn't even done anything yet.
This is another Universal fun filled fright fest.Many people want to
compare it to House Of Frankenstein.Even though it has similar cast and
same director it can stand on its own.(It does appear that Erle C Kenton
directed most of the Universal horror films of the 40's).
The plot recap:Baron Latos appears at the home of Dr Eidlemann seeking a "cure" for his vampirism.Larry Talbot (who somehow survived House OF Frankenstein) also shows up at the good doctors door seeking a cure for his affliction.After a failed suicide attempt Talbot and the doctor find the Frankenstein monster. To complicate matters just before he bites the dust, Dracula infects the good doctor with his blood.The doctor becomes a bloodthirsty maniac at certain times.Where this leads to is something you'll have to see for your self.
Carradine actually gives a very good performance as Dracula. He isn't chewing up the scenery as he will in later roles. It is hard to repress giggles when he appears in a top hat though.The cape/cloak is traditional but the hat has to go. Where does the hat go when he changes into a bat...?
Onslow Stevens gives an excellent portrayal of the doctor. He's torn between his basic kindness and the increasing blood lust he is now prone to. This is a very underrated performance.Chaney brings even more life to the Wolf Man in his 4th appearance in that role.
The monster isn't given much to do this time.Just lay on the table until the end(some stock footage from the Ghost Of Frankenstein is used).At least in House Of Frankenstein he was up and around a bit.
Yes this does stick to the basic Universal pattern complete with the angry village mob running amok with torches.But it isn't a bad way to spend an hour and ten minutes.It gets a low 8.
This movies marks the final appearance for the famous classic horror
characters; Dracula, The Frankenstein creature and The Wolf Man. Well
yes, of course those characters would later appear in many other horror
movies over the years, in many different forms and ways but this was
the last official Universal Pictures horror movie with those classic
monsters. Unless you also count "Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet
Frankenstein" but since that movie was a comedy I think its fair to say
that this movie is the last in the series, that follows the movies;
"Dracula", "Frankenstein", "Bride of Frankenstein", "Dracula's
Daughter", "Son of Frankenstein", "The Wolf Man", "The Ghost of
Frankenstein", "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man", "Son of Dracula" and
"House of Frankenstein".
Main problem is that the movie lacks any fresh ideas or one good central character. I'm still not sure who was supposed to be the main characters in this movie. It also lacks some good well known actors. Basically the only well known actors from the good old days in this movie are Lon Chaney Jr. and Lionel Atwill.
John Carradine once again reprises his role as Dracula and he is surprisingly better than he was in "House of Frankenstein". Glenn Strange also reprises his role as the Frankenstein monster once more but he doesn't have an awful lot to do in this movie. Lon Chaney Jr. perhaps plays his best Wolf Man role in this movie and his character gets the most satisfying ending of all the monster characters (Whether he dies or not, or gets cured finally am I not going to spoil for you.). The Wolf Man truly was a tragic character and Chaney Jr. perfectly captures that feeling in this movie.
It's too bad that the movie lacks in so many important things; a good story, well known classic horror actors, a good main character and any original moments. Still of course for the fans of the genre, this movie still remains perfectly watchable.
I enjoyed this more the second time around, because at first I was
disappointed to watch how poorly the Universal monsters fared when
compared to earlier outings. In fact, Dracula (John Carradine) does
little but lust after the female assistant of the 'celebrated' doctor
(Onslow Stevens) who's supposed to cure his vampirism; though Lon
Chaney Jr., returning as The Wolf Man, changes a couple of times in the
film, nothing ever comes of these - but, for once, we do get a happy
ending for him here; the Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange) doesn't
appear until half the film is over and, till the very last sequence, is
strapped to an operating table (still, his final rampage and
come-uppance, though partly lifted from THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN
, is effective enough).
The film, however, belongs to Onslow Stevens who manages both facets of the doctor's personality - the intellectual, rather cold scientist who finds logic even in the supernatural and, when infected with Dracula's blood, the prowling Hyde-like menace who re-activates the Frankenstein monster (whom he just happens to come across in a cave, by the way) for his sinister purposes...but these, needless to say, are thwarted by the nth stomping of the castle grounds by the angry villagers, led by a dignified Lionel Atwill and zombie-like Skelton Knaggs! Besides Stevens' 'monster', the film features a girl hunchback(!) - I remember laughing out loud at her introduction when I first watched the film but, thinking about it now, her presence does serve a purpose as Stevens' experiments are supposed to help cure her deformity (apparently, there ain't nothing this doctor can't fix!). Despite the general cheapness of the production, I was struck by the shadowy lighting, the music (some of it, admittedly, borrowed from earlier pictures) and the set design - elements which are always a pleasure to look out for in these Universal 'classics'.
This creepy sequel to 'House of Frankenstein', has a doctor (Onslow Stevens)
trying to revive the monsters (Glenn Strange and Lon Chaney, Jr.) after
becoming infected with the blood of Dracula.
All the atmospheric effects are present and there's a chilling performance by John Carradine whose gaunt appearance makes him a perfect choice for the Dracula part. The special effects involving his transformation are smoothly handled, as of course are the Wolfman's makeup change under the full moon. By this time, Universal had perfected many of these techniques and the effects are sometimes startlingly realistic. Lionel Atwill has a brief part as the village police chief and Martha O'Driscoll and Jane Adams provide the feminine interest.
But the main honors go to Onslow Stevens as the doctor who mistakenly inherits vampire tendencies--a sort of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde role that he does extremely well. A fright film that doesn't disappoint, entertaining all the way.
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