Director: Erle C. Kenton
Writer: Edward T. Lowe
Cast: Lon Chaney, John Carradine, Martha O’Driscoll, Lionel Atwill, Onslow Stevens, Jane Adams, Ludwig Stossel, Glenn Strange, and Skelton Knaggs
Composer: Edgar Fairchild
Release Date: 12/7/1945
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
With the help of his hunchbacked assistant Nina (Jane Adams), the kindly Dr. Franz Edlemann (Onslow Stevens) attempts to cure Larry Talbot and Count Dracula of lycanthropy and vampirism respectively. Despite his purity of intentions, Edlemann is continuously distracted by the temptation of revitalizing Frankenstein’s monster.
Similar to its immediate predecessor, House of Dracula crams together a whopping total of three—or five, if one were to include the mad scientist and female hunchback—monsters into a convoluted story for the sole purpose of reviving a dying franchise in the same fashion that Dr. Edlemann revives the Frankenstein creature when compelled by Dracula’s malevolent influence. Devoid of profound or insightful subject matter though it may be, this offering will appeal to horror buffs in search of some cheesy Halloween fun.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
While the character arcs of Count Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, and the Wolf Man had become thoroughly exhausted at this point, House of Dracula occasionally overcomes the hackneyed premise on which it operates. Especially worth mentioning is Onslow Stevens’ portrayal of Dr. Edlemann, a benevolent miracle worker turned mad scientist following a reversed blood transfusion with Baron Latos/Count Dracula. Edlemann’s sinister but conflicted presence is complemented rather poignantly by Larry Talbot, whose final confrontation with the man who cures him may elicit compassion from audiences of a sensitive inclination.
House of Dracula makes creative use of the Jekyll/Hyde formula, but fails to sufficiently integrate the titular character into yet another narrative featuring both Frankenstein’s monster and the Wolf Man. Compounding the dubious notion that Dracula and Talbot would, without prior coordination, seek a cure from the same doctor and time their visits within mere minutes of each other, this installment forgoes credibility altogether upon introducing Frankenstein’s monster, who just so happens to arrive at Edlemann’s doorstep encased in the same quicksand that swallowed him alive in House of Frankenstein’s climactic scene.
Though borderline absurd, House of Dracula features one unique aspect to distinguish itself from earlier Hollywood renditions of Bram Stoker’s classic novel; namely, Count Dracula—a personification of the devil himself—is portrayed as an unwilling and therefore sympathetic participant in the crimes committed by an ever-present demon of the mind. It should be noted that the above subplot is eventually sacrificed in order to maintain exclusive focus on Dr. Edlemann and his demented quest to restore the power of Frankenstein’s creature; likewise, by attributing the existence of vampires and werewolves to metabolic irregularities alone, screenwriter Edward T. Lowe effectively undermined those supernatural implications that made each individual monster so ominously alluring in the first place. Nevertheless, House of Dracula deserves commendation for developing the eponymous character beyond his surface desire to feast upon the blood of innocents.
A generic but entertaining “monster mash,” House of Dracula employs a contrived method of combining Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man into one movie. For this reason, viewers who prefer resonating commentary on the human condition over comic book quality scenarios are advised to avoid this gimmicky production at all costs.
Overall Quality: 5/10
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