31 Weeks to Halloween: House of Dracula (1945)
Horror upon Horror in the House of Dracula!
As the sun sets on another Saturday, we come just one more film closer to the end of our 31 Weeks to Halloween countdown. And this weeks movie - HOUSE OF DRACULA - is a bittersweet one mainly because the film is the last of the classic Universal Monsters movies to feature three of the most beloved monsters in all of history: Dracula, The Wolf Man and Frankenstein's Monster! While the three creatures make an appearance three years later in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (which we will be getting to!), Erle C. Kenton's House of Dracula is the final main franchise film that the monsters bring their haunts to. The film is a direct sequel to House of Frankenstein which was released the year before and takes place a few years after in the city we all love to dread, Visaria. House of Dracula is an absolutely epic and wonderful movie that brings an amazing ending to this incredible, monstrous journey we've been on the last few months with some of the most horrific and lovable monsters in all of cinematic history. While I think I personally enjoyed House of Frankenstein just a little bit more, House of Dracula is easily one of the top films in the entire Universal Monsters catalog. Not only is there plenty of on screen monster time, the storyline is actually very creative as it takes you down some twists you probably wouldn't have expected. The introduction of the films mad doctor and his female hunchback sidekick is an added bonus as their interactions with the monsters and their necessity to the film is absolutely present. I think the film as both a standalone flick and an extension to House of Frankenstein makes it more than worthy of the success it has received over the years! I don't see how any true fans of classic horror could possibly be disappointed in this gem of a movie! It's got monsters, it's got evil, and it's got mob justice... what more does one need?!
To sum up its thicker than usual plot, House of Dracula kicks off with the Count (John Carradine) traveling to Visaria to the home of Dr. Franz Edelmann (Onslow Stevens) in hopes that he can help cure the dreaded curse that plagues his eternal being: vampirism. The doctor agrees to help him by performing blood transfusions, in hopes that it will return his blood back to normal and allow Dracula to live a normal life. Ironically, in the same evening, the legendary Larry Talbot - The Wolf Man - shows up at the doctors door also hoping for a cure; he's tired of transforming into a werewolf with a thirst for murder at every full moon. The doctor also agrees to help him, but believes he has a more natural and surgery free alternative, so he asks Talbot to be patient while his associates - including his hunchback sidekick Nina (Jane Adams) - harvest mold from his collection of spores. What follows takes the story on a wild ride as Talbot and the doctor stumble upon the living body of Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula reverses the transfusion and puts his blood inside of Dr. Edelmann, and the doctor absolutely loses his shit and goes crazy as the Count has control over him. There is nothing but pure madness going on. Will Dracula have an eternal hold over Dr. Edelmann? Will poor Larry Talbot ever be freed from his dreaded transformations? Will Frankenstein's Monster ever find eternal peace, or will he always be teetering on the fine line of life and death?! Find out in... HOUSE OF DRACULA!
There is a lot to unfold in the sixty seven minutes of this film; characters are popping in and out, monsters are showing up at Dr. Edelmann's door and bringing a bunch of problems with them, and at some point he just snaps and goes on a rampage - and he's not even a monster! The movie is filled with tons of action, adventure, drama and cheese - and the best part is that the finale of the film brings such a justified, sensible and heartwarming end to a tremendous legacy with these characters we've grown to love over the last few weeks. Admittedly, the appearance of Frankenstein's Monster felt a little out of place and non-essential to the story, but it made for a sick little tie-in to House of Frankenstein - even though I'm not a big fan of Glenn Strange's version of Frankie. Carradine makes for an absolutely horrifying Count Dracula and Lon Chaney Jr, as always, does an astounding job as The Wolf Man. But even in this all-star creature feature, a lot of the show is focused on Stevens' performance as Dr. Edelmann and his transformation into the mad and evil doctor! Few things are better than a doctor who get transfixed by evil forces into doing the work of the devil, and Edelmann makes for a perfect guinea pig for Count Dracula!
There's also more than enough mob justice appearances in the movie as well, which - if you've been following along these last few weeks - has become one of my favorite ever. Every good monster movie has a bunch of townsfolk running around with weapons and fire ready to take down the beast and seek out justice against the creatures. House of Dracula is no exception: people are running around hunting down a killer and they aren't going to stop until he is caught - dead or alive! I fucking can't get enough of it! My only big disappoint with the movie is that there wasn't any sick Dracula-doing-vampire-shit scenes; besides turning into and out of bat form and his mind control over maidens, you never get to see any cool fang action or blood drinking. The Wolf Man gets his terrifyingly iconic transformation scenes we've loved in all of his films, Frankenstein's Monster gets his electric-shock scenes that will cause nightmares for weeks to come, but Dracula doesn't really get his memorable scene in this film. Regardless, everyone looks absolutely amazing and the film as a whole is magnificent and like I said earlier, it's an essential viewing for fans of both classic horror and monster movies in general. Check it out!!!