Universal Classic Monsters: “House of Dracula” (1945)

John Carradine as Dracula

Here we go again. Even though Count Dracula (John Carradine) and Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) were vanquished in “House of Frankenstein” a year earlier, they are both inexplicably resurrected for this third monster rally and coincidently arrive at the very same clinic in search of cures for their supernatural afflictions. Of course, this clinic is located in Vasaria. There seems to be a lot of villages called Vasaria in these movies.

Unlike all the mad scientists in the past, Dr. Franz Edelmann (Onslow Stevens) is kind and sympathetic. He is the first doctor to have the common sense to not try and revive Frankenstein’s Monster (Glenn Strange), who conveniently washed up in cave beneath the good doctor’s clinic. What are the odds? Lionel Atwill is again cast as an inspector and in a nice twist, the traditional hunchbacked assistant is now played by an attractive actress (Jane Adams).

Dracula does seem sincere in his intentions, but his lust for Doctor Edelmann’s other assistant (Martha O‘Driscoll) has him returning to his wicked ways and he infects Dr. Edelmann with vampire blood via a transfusion. Dr. Edelmann is able to stays sane long enough to destroy Dracula and cure Lawrence of his lycanthropy. A rare glimmer of hope for the Wolf Man.

Tainted blood of Dracula eventually morphs Dr. Edelmann into a “Jekyll & Hyde” type character and he goes on a rampage before reviving the Monster. The final scene of the laboratory burning to the ground was lifted from “Ghost of Frankenstein,” so that is Lon Chaney Jr. and not Glenn Strange thrashing in the flames. Though “House of Dracula” has some interesting variations of previously established hallmarks, overall it is not as fun as the previous monster rallies.

“House of Frankenstein” neglected any monster on monster action, but this film could have used some. John Carradine has more screentime as Dracula than he did in “House of Frankenstein,” but all the monsters played again second fiddle to a doctor. This was more acceptable when Boris Karloff filled that role, but this imitation Jekyll & Hyde character doesn’t quite measure up. It may have been different if Dr. Jekyll actually was a character in this film, but Universal didn‘t tackle Robert Louis Stevenson’s creation until “Abbott & Costello meet Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” in 1953. “House of Dracula” is probably my least favorite monster rally, save for poor Lawrence Talbot finally being liberated from his horrible curse… albeit temporarily.

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About domcappelloblog

New York based screenwriter.

Posted on July 8, 2013, in Horror, Universal Classic Monsters and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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