It Was a Graveyard Smash

House of Dracula is practically a remake of House of Frankenstein. The director is the same, the cast is the same, the crew is the same, footage is reused, sets are reused, and scores are reused. It was at this point that Universal Pictures made monster movies less of a priority. Although intended to be titled Wolf Man vs. Dracula, the studio wanted another “monster rally” with Frankenstein’s Monster involved. So the movie was retitled House of Dracula and retained the same basic structure. There’s Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolf Man, Dracula, a hunchback, and a mad doctor just like the previous crossover. Yet the monsters still don’t directly interact. Universal intended to bring back Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff as Dracula and the Monster respectively, but that was long off the table. Only Lon Chaney Jr. consistently played the Wolf Man in all appearances.

House of Dracula is the final serious film to feature the “big three,” and it’s just as unceremonious as it was before. At least Count Dracula makes an early introduction this time around. Even if he is the less intimidating John Carradine version in a silly top hat with the cover name Baron Latos. He does the usual schtick of turning into a bat, sucking blood, and being repelled by a cross. For some reason Dracula wants to be cured of his vampirism. It doesn’t make nearly as much sense as Larry Talbot wanting to be cured of his lycanthropy. Both monsters are inexplicably alive with zero explanation. The not so mad doctor this time is Onslow Stevens as Dr. Franz Edelmann. His hunchback assistant is now a woman named Nina played by the lovely Jane Adams.

Neither character is particularly menacing compared to what came before. The other female lead is Edelmann’s nurse Milizia Morelle played by Martha O’Driscoll. Dracula becomes an obvious problem when he seduces Milizia, but he’s quickly killed once again when Edelmann exposes his coffin to sunlight. Larry’s usual pleas for help are always tragic, but they have gotten one note at this point. The Wolf Man’s werewolf transformation is exposed in prison, but Larry finally gets the cure he always wanted. Frankenstein’s Monster is kind of shoehorned in with Edelmann only becoming a monster through a blood transfusion with Dracula. Though he’s more Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde than vampire. Glenn Strange only lumbers around until the Monster is buried under a burning building at the last minute. House of Dracula blew its second chance at a monster mash.

29. The House of Dracula

Count Dracula seduces Milizia

Preceded by: House of Frankenstein

4 thoughts on “It Was a Graveyard Smash

  1. This one I thought had a bit more coherency in its plotline, and I thought the edition of the good doctor fighting to avoid becoming a monster, only for the dark side to overwhelm him was well thought out and done. Yes, it still has its messes and misses, but it did try to be a bit stronger in storytelling and is still fun to watch. And seeing Larry freed from his cursed existence was a nice way to end the cycle.

    Liked by 1 person

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