House of Dracula – USA, 1945

House of Dracula is a 1945 American horror film released by Universal Pictures. It is a direct sequel to House of Frankenstein, and continued the theme of combining the studio’s three most popular monsters: Frankenstein’s monster (Glenn Strange), Count Dracula (John Carradine), and the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr.).

The film was directed by Erle C. Kenton from a screenplay by Edward T. Lowe Jr., based on a storyline by Dwight V. Babcock and George Bricker.

Count Dracula (Carradine) greets the castle’s owner, Dr. Franz Edelmann (Onslow Stevens). The Count, who introduces himself as “Baron Latos”, explains that he has come to Visaria to find a cure for his vampirism. Dr. Edelmann agrees to help.

Together with his assistants, Milizia (Martha O’Driscoll) and the hunchbacked Nina (Poni Adams), he has been working on a mysterious plant, the clavaria formosa, whose spores have the ability to reshape bone. Edelmann explains that he thinks vampirism can be cured by a series of blood transfusions. Dracula agrees to this, and Edelmann uses his own blood for the transfusions.

That night, Lawrence Talbot (Chaney Jr.) arrives at the castle. He demands to see Dr. Edelmann about a cure for his lycanthropy. Talbot is asked to wait. Knowing that the moon is rising, Talbot has himself incarcerated by the police. A crowd of curious villagers gathers outside the police station, led by the suspicious Steinmuhl (Skelton Knaggs)…

Reviews:

“The set design is big and luxurious; something we lost for a while, along with some of the ambiance. The lighting is just right. Photography and effects show global improvement, too. The story is silly but the title and promo alone allude to fun times, good energy and genuine acting, writing and directing from horror monuments. We get it all!” Steve Hutchison, Tales of Terror

“It’s so hilariously bad, it’s hard to believe that it’s done so seriously. The scene where Indelman reveals to Nina that Dracula is his new patient is something Mel Brooks didn’t better in Young Frankenstein. A scene where Indelman is battling in his mind between his good self and bad self, whether to revive the Frankenstein monster is so ludicrously over-the-top you’ve just got to cheer it.” MP Bartley, eFilm Critic

“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.” Midnite Reviews

“”Nothing’s particularly scary. In the opening shot, the strings holding up the bat are clearly visible […] Except for that bat, the production values and sets are up to the studio’s standard, and it’s fun to watch a vintage cast going through familiar paces.” Mike Mayo, The Horror Show Guide

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“Unfortunately, as is too often the case with the perpetually rushed screenplays of these films, the latter half of the film fumbles an interesting beginning. Dracula, for no clearly discernible reason, injects Onslow Stevens with his blood and causes him to become a madman. There are some interesting scenes with Onslow Stevens running around the town, casting a giant shadow…” Richard Scheib, Moria

” …patently working with a low budget and failing to find much that was satisfying to do with its cast. Scripted by Edward T. Lowe, as the previous House of Frankenstein had been, it adopted the new outlook of the benefits of science – or their drawbacks – to inform its plotting, looking forward to the science fiction movies that would become hugely popular in the next decade.” Graeme Clark, The Spinning Image

Cast and characters:

  • John Carradine as Count Dracula
  • Onslow Stevens as Dr. Franz Edelmann
  • Lon Chaney Jr. as Lawrence “Larry” Talbot / The Wolf Man
  • Martha O’Driscoll as Milizia Morelle
  • Jane Adams as Nina, the hunchback
  • Lionel Atwill as Police Inspector Holtz
  • Ludwig Stössel as Ziegfried
  • Glenn Strange as Frankenstein’s Monster
  • Skelton Knaggs as Steinmuhl

Trivia:

Although Glenn Strange appears as the Monster in most of the film, footage of Chaney as the Monster from The Ghost of Frankenstein and Boris Karloff from Bride of Frankenstein was recycled; Karloff appears in a dream sequence, while Chaney, as well as his double Eddie Parker, are seen in footage in a fire scene.

Wikipedia | IMDb | American Film Institute

Image credits: The Telltale Mind

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