Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October Movie Reviews: House of Dracula 1945

Lon Chaney Jr. returns, but not as Dracula, but as the Wolf Man.

This movie is a sequel to the House of Frankenstein and the second of the Universal "Monster Mash" movies. We have a Mad Scientist, Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein's Monster and even a hunchback. All the monsters are here and we even have an angry mob of villagers.

House of Dracula (1945)

Dracula comes to visit renowned scientist Dr. Edelmann searching for a cure to his vampirism.  At the same time Larry Talbot comes looking for a cure for his lycanthropy.    Oddly enough the two classic monsters never share any screen time.  Along the way Talbot, in a failed suicide attempt, discovers a cave where Frankenstein's monster is buried.

Dracula attempts to seduce one of Edlemann's nurses, one he had met before, so Edlemann tryies to deal with Dracula.  Dracula double crosses him and feeds him some of his own vampiric blood via the transfusion.  Edlemann later manages to kill Dracula, but the blood in his veins produces an odd Jekyll and Hyde like effect.

Edlemann, in one of his moments of clarity, manages to cure Talbot, but then also slips and kills a local.  The villagers attack while Edlemann is trying to revive the Monster.  He kills his nurse, but is shot by an now cured Talbot and the place goes down in flames with the Monster inside.

What I thought was interesting about this one was both Dracual and the Wolf Man come to Dr. Edlemann to seek a cure. Though I am certain that Dracula had other plans, Talbot I was sure was sincere.
The hunchback was a bit of a surprise.  This was not your ugly Quasimodo, but instead the attractive form of  Nina, played by Jane Adams. Whiled billed as a monster, she is more of a sympathetic victim.  Though our mad scientist, Edelmann, serves both that role and that of a Jekyll and Hyde.

Lon Chaney J.r is back where "he belongs" as the Wolf man and John Carirdine is taking a tour as the Count. I like Caridine as the count. He has the features and he acts like the nobleman that Dracula should be.  In fact in the movie poster linked here he looks a little bit like Christopher Lee.  I did enjoy seeing Dracula's top hat back.

Frankenstein's Monster is utterly wasted here and most of time he is on screen are archived footage from previous movies.  Which is interesting given his "top billing".  The Wolf man, like our hunchback, is more to be pitied than feared.

If you will pardon the pun, Universal's monsters were getting a little long in the tooth at this point.  The next movie after this one was "Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein" a completely fun movie, but so far removed from horror.

Next:  Hammer Time! (had to do it)

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