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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October 24- House of Dracula (1945)

Today, we have House of Dracula, the last "serious" of the Monster Mash films, with the rest featuring comedians Budd Abbott and Lou Costello (Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein will be tomorrow, by the way). Lon Chaney Jr. returns as Larry Talbot/ The Wolf Man, John Carradine is back as Count Dracula, and Glenn Strange is back as the Monster. This time, however, the mad scientist is Dr. Franz Edelmann (played by Onslow Stevens).

Dracula meeting with Dr. Edelmann
The movie begins with the arrival of Count Dracula, who starts off under the alias Baron Latos, to a castle in Visaria to greet the owner, Dr. Edelmann. The Count seeks a cure for his vampirism, and Edelmann hypothesizes a solution using a series of blood transfusions.

Meanwhile, Larry Talbot arrives at the castle, also looking for a cure from Edelmann. Knowing that he is about to transform due to the full moon, Talbot makes the police arrest him. It is while Talbot is in custody that Edelmann and one of his assistants Milizia (Martha O'Driscoll) see him transform into the Wolf Man. Edelmann than surmises that the transformations aren't due to the moonlight, but due to pressure on the brain. He thinks can do an operation to cure Talbot by relieving the pressure, but Edelmann needs to gather moss from flowers he has been growing and says that it would take time. Not wanting to turn back into the Wolf Man, Talbot jumps of the cliffs behind Edelmann's mansion. When Edelmann ventures down to find Talbot's body, he discovers a cave that contains the Frankenstein Monster. Edelmann recovers the Monster's body and brings it back to the lab.

The Wolf Man attacks the Doctor.

During this period of time, Dracula tries to seduce Milizia into becoming a vampire like herself, and she is slowly coming under the Count's influence. Edelmann's other assistant, Nina (Jane "Poni" Adams) sees this, tells Edelmann, and he plans to inject something into the next transfusion that will destroy Dracula. During the transfusion, Dracula manages to reverse the flow of the blood, sending his evil blood into the veins of Dr. Edelmann. Dracula is destroyed by the sun after returning to his coffin.

Right before his reflection disappears
Dr. Edelmann begins to experience gruesome transformations into an evil version of himself, who thinks of doing terrible acts of violence. During one of these bouts of evil, Edelmann tries to revive the Monster, but is stopped. After returning to normal, Edelmann successfully performs the surgery on Talbot. After the surgery, Edelmann undergoes another transformation, this time killing a villager, which draws the attention and anger of the rest of the village. The mob chased Edelmann, assuming that he is Talbot.

Still in an evil fit of rage, Edelmann manages to revive the Monster, and kills Nina when she tries to stop him. As a mob descends on the mansion, Talbot grabs a gun and kills the evil Dr. Edelmann. Talbot then traps the Monster under some shelves and when a fire starts in the mansion, the Monster is destroyed.

Edelmann kills Nina...
And revives the Monster
This film was not as enjoyable as Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man or House of Frankenstein, but it was still fun to watch, and the simple fact that so many of the iconic Universal monsters are together in one film makes this film worth watching. After this film, with the end of World War II, monster films were considered as terrifying compared to the threat of nuclear war. This is when the various science fiction B-movies started becoming very popular. The monsters would be brought back a couple more times, but in a comedic sense.

One of the last of its genre...
Anyway, I do have a few complaints about this film, First, the continuity issues are apparent. The Monster is somehow conveniently in a cave under the mansion, Talbot is somehow still alive after being shot with a silver bullet, and Dracula comes back after dying very shortly into House of Frankenstein. Then again, this film was made for box office appeal, not a perfect continuity. Also, unlike House of Frankenstein, which had just the right amount of action, this film feels too cluttered in terms of plot. With too many things happening at once, this film was a little difficult to follow at times. Overall, this movie is a good movie, just not quite as good as the previous two.

I give it a 4 out of 5.

1 comment:

  1. I agree it's a fun movie, loved it as a kid. But it has problems. First of all, Universal made Dracula the most impotent of their monsters. So let me get this straight. Dracula arrives to get himself cured of his vampirism? His blood cells show a peculiar parasite which could be the cause of his "condition" as Dr. Edelmann tells the Count? You think it could be because he is a living corpse? He is the undead? There is no condition. And why are all of the supposed voices of reason in all of the Frankenstein films so weak in character and judgement that they entertain for a moment reviving the Monster or actually entertaining Dracula instead of destroying them as soon as possible? The answer being then there be no movie, of course. My other pet peeve of the Universal Dracula's, from the great Lugosi to Carradine and Chaney Jr.. Can you guess? Why no fangs? Why was it good for the Wolf Man but not a vampire whose bread and butter, as it were, is biting necks and draining blood? And Carradine's Dracula in House Of Frankenstein isn't just fangless, there is a close up of Carradine's perfect teeth as he is dying. And he couldn't just swipe Karloff's hand holding a stake over his heart? And then he agrees to have this guy (Dr. Neumann) protect his coffin? Really, Universal? How about Chaney Jr. in "Son Of Dracula" allowing himself to be caught outside his burning coffin pleading with his enemy to put out the flames, almost crying. But back to "House OF Dracula". How bad is someone's luck as Dr. Edelmann's to have Dracula, The Wolf Man and the Frankenstein Monster all fall at your door step at the same time?
    I never understood what Dracula's motivation was, even as a kid. He didn't seem to hate himself for being a vampire. Did he claim to want to be cured as a ruse to get the assistant whom he knew in the past? Why didn't he just swoop in and take her? I don't think the plot was to cluttered, just too dumb. Having said that, HOD is still fun watching. It's pretty cool to see Lon Chaney, who really hates being the Wolf Man donning a mustache. Why would Larry Talbot add hair to his face? Anyway..Love the scene when he turns into the Wolf Man in the jail cell. I would have loved for him to say to Dr. Edelmann, when they discover the skeleton of Karloff and the Monster from "House Of Frankenstein" and Edelmann says, "the story goes.." "Yea, I know. I was there." And always a pleasure to Lionel Atwill even in a small role such as his in this last entry. He does have a great send off, being thrown into a machine and being electrocuted, again, as he was in "Ghost Of Frankenstein". Not up to other entries in the series, but a fun last stab.