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Subj: Creature Feature 63: House Of Dracula(1945)
Posted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 at 01:21:25 am EST (Viewed 254 times)
1945 saw the end of Universal's Frankenstein/Dracula/Wolf Man universe with the release of House Of Dracula. Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine and Glenn Strange return as the Wolf Man, Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster in this sequel to House Of Frankenstein along with a new Mad Doctor and Hunchback. The monsters would return in 1948's Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein but the continuity is very loose at best.
Count Dracula under the guise of Baron Latos meets Dr. Edelmann with the hope of curing himself of his vampirism. Lawrence Talbot also seeks out Dr. Edelmann, hoping to cure himself of his lycanthropy. During treatment, Dr. Edelmann becomes infected with Dracula's blood. He destroys Dracula and cures Talbot, but becomes a monster himself. He then revives the Frankenstein Monster which was found in a quicksand flow in a cave under the castle. Edelmann kills his hunchback assistant and is then shot dead by Talbot. The revived Monster succumbs to fire as the burning castle collapses around him.
House Of Dracula retreads a lot of ground but it does touch on some new territory. Carradine's Dracula is looking to be cured of being a vampire, yet, while doing so, he is still trying to seduce Edelmann's nurse into the life of the undead, similar to Dracula's Daughter. While the viewer might cautiously view Dracula sympathetically, it quickly becomes apparent that he can't be trusted. I feel this plays very well into the way that Carradine plays the vampire. Even when asking for help, he has an arrogance about him and he never seems trustworthy. He also turns Edelmann into a vampire, although he's more a Mr. Hyde-type than a true blood-sucker. I don't believe this had been shown to such an extent before this movie.
Having the Hunchback be a woman was different and the way her character is portrayed makes this more exploitative. She's much more of a victim than a monster, especially when she is killed and casually discarded by Edelmann. The poor thing is even refered to as one of the 5 monsters in the trailer! Commenters on youtube refer to her as the "sexy hunchback" as she is quite attractive.
Larry Talbot is cured! It is interesting to have him transform in the jail in front of the doctor and the policeman. Then, when Edelmann kills a local man, it makes sense that the police and townspeople would come looking for Talbot.
On the negative side, there is no explanation at all as to how Dracula and Talbot returned after the last movie. It is nice to see the Monster and Dr. Niemann being deposited in the underground cave by the quicksand, though.
While Dracula gets more of the spotlight in this movie, the Monster barely gets any screentime at all. And Talbot doesn't have much Wolf Man time either. As with House Of Frankenstein, the monsters hardly interact.
There is a good story here and Edelmann is able to transform from a bland doctor into a pretty good Hyde-type, but, for the most part, House Of Dracula doesn't go out with the bang that you'd hope for, especially if you're expecting lots of monster action.
Talbot transforming into the Wolf Man in the jail. It's definitely an interesting scene when Talbot becomes a wolf in front of people who survive.
Edelmann confronting the Wolf Man in the underground cave and the finding of the Monster. Much like in Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man and House Of Frankenstein, this scene of finding the Monster in the cave left an impression on me as a kid.
Edelmann's dream. His turning into a villain is handled pretty well but his good dream-self trying to discourage his evil-self from reviving the Frankenstein Monster is kind of humorous.
Edelmann on the carriage with his gardener. This is a great tense scene where the viewer knows the Doctor is going to murder the gardener but has to wait for the actual crime.
The Hunchback's death. Nina the Hunchback is very likable so it comes as a bit of a shock when Edelmann strangles her and throws her body down into the cave. While I wasn't expecting her to be cured, I didn't think she'd be killed either. Edelmann does a great job of changing from an afterthought character into the main villain.
House Of Dracula trailer
Lionel Atwill, a veteran of several Frankenstein movies as well as the Sherlock Holmes movie The Hound Of The Baskervilles and the 1944 serial Captain America, appeared as Police Inspector Holtz. He died of cancer and pneumonia in 1946.
John Carradine would play Dracula again in Billy The Kid Versus Dracula(1966), Las Vampiras(1969) and Nocturna(1979).
Apparently, Glenn Strange was so cold in the quicksand scene that Lon Chaney kept him warm with a bottle of scotch, getting him so drunk that he had a hard time getting dressed afterward.
In 2009, an independent film titled House Of The Wolf Man was released. It tried to capture the style of the Universal movies and starred Ron Chaney, the grandson of Lon Chaney Jr. as the mad doctor. I haven't seen it, but it might be interesting.
You can watch House Of Dracula here:
House Of Dracula
After this movie, I'm taking a break from the Universal movies. I still want to watch the three Creature From The Black Lagoon movies and I've always loved The Old Dark House, The Raven and The Black Cat, so I'm sure I'll come back to them later. For the next few Creature Features, however, I'll be focusing on Planet Of The Apes.
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