After escaping from an asylum the mad Dr. Niemann and his hunch back assistant revive Count Dracula, the Wolf Man and the Frankenstein monster in order to extract revenge upon their many enemies.Written by
Jeremy Lunt <email@example.com>
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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