House of Frankenstein is the horror event Universal monster fans have been waiting for. Well keep waiting, because this is more false advertising. After their first “monster rally” Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man proved successful, Universal wanted all of their monsters in one movie. Chamber of Horrors would’ve featured an all-star cast and included Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolf Man, Dracula, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, and even the Mad Ghoul. House of Frankenstein instead features Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolf Man, Dracula, a hunchback, and a mad doctor. I was still excited to see the massive crossover, but it’s kind of a let down. House of Frankenstein is practically sectioned off with none of the big three monsters directly interacting. Boris Karloff returns, but he ironically plays a mad scientist instead of the Monster who made him famous.
Dr. Gustav Niemann is a wannabe Dr. Frankenstein who escapes prison with his hunchback assistant Daniel. He’s no Igor, but J. Carrol Naish does make an impression. He longs for a normal body that only Niemann can provide. Dr. Niemann swears revenge on those who imprisoned him and lays low after stealing a traveling horror exhibit. Count Dracula is finally revived when Niemann removes the wooden steak from his skeleton. Though it would’ve been better with Bela Lugosi, at least John Carradine knows what he’s doing. Anne Gwynne is the first female lead who gets seduced by Dracula. Rita Hussman is drawn to his ring and her grandfather’s blood is drained while Dracula is in bat form. Dracula is quickly killed by sunlight when Niemann and Daniel abandon him. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man is directly referenced when they head to the village where the monsters fought.
The second female lead is Elena Verdugo as gypsy woman Ilonka who has an unrequited Hunchback of Notre Dame style relationship with Daniel. They travel to the flooded castle where Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolf Man are frozen. Lon Chaney Jr. is always consistently good as the tormented Larry Talbot. Even in a movie that doesn’t give him all the attention. Ilonka falls in love with Larry instead of Daniel. Despite Larry’s need to rid himself of the werewolf curse. Niemann clearly cares more about unlocking the secrets of Frankenstein’s Monster. He plans to swap the brains of his enemies with the monsters, but the Wolf Man is quickly killed by a silver bullet. Daniel turns on his master, but the Monster breaks free to help him. Glenn Strange has the right look for the Monster, but his performance is too last minute for a movie named after him. The Monster runs from an angry mob, but he’s quickly killed like all the rest. House of Frankenstein could’ve been the ultimate monster mash if they only allowed them to interact.