Rewatching the Universal Monsters! The ones on the new Blu-ray, at least. The monster mash-up of House of Frankenstein gets a follow up in 1945’s House of Dracula. It’s the original House II: The Second Story.
Here’s what happens: Dracula has come back to life, and decided he’s had enough. He seeks a cure for his vampirism. He goes to Dr. Edelmann for help, but this is bad timing, because Larry Talbot, a.k.a. the Wolf Man, also shows up Edelmann’s door asking for a werewolf cure. This sets of a chain of events leading to the return of Frankenstein’s monster.
Monster!: Dracula says he wants a cure because immortality is too great a curse. But then he gets right back to Dracula-ing when he tries to seduce Edelmann’s lovely assistant Militza. He’s quick to forget his cure and instead plots to make Miritza his vampire bride.
Also a monster!: Poor Larry Talbot hits rock bottom in this movie, more interested in suicide rather than a cure. The movie would have us believe that Talbot is finally cured in this one, in somewhat undramatic fashion, but we all know there’s one more Wolf Man appearance after this.
Also a monster!: Edelmann’s other assistant is Nina the hunchback, a different kind of monster for this series. Not only is she a lady monster, but she’s played sympathetic from the start, showing that the franchise has now circled all the way around to monsters-are-the-heroes phase.
Also a monster!: Frankenstein’s monster does very little in this, possibly the least he does in any of these movies. We wait until the very last minute of the movie until he comes back to life, and then all he does is stumble about for a bit.
Our hero: The movie’s marketing insists that Edelmann is a “mad doctor” but he’s really the protagonist. He’s a science-her0, genuinely trying to help the monsters. He even gets his own Indiana Jones-style action scene where he explores some underwater caves in search of the Wolf Man. Late in the movie, Edelmann is infected with Dracula’s blood and goes a little crazy, but not unlike the Wolf Man, he fights his own dark side throughout.
Hapless humans: Poor Miritza is first romanced by Dracula and then by the Wolf Man. She can’t catch a break. A carriage driver named Ziegfried gets a lot of screentime, just so he can get a death scene. Actor Lionel Atwell, who appeared in most other Frankenstein films, is back again as another police officer.
Thrills: As with House of Frankenstein, Dracula is taken out early on, diving the movie into the Dracula half and then the Frankenstein half. It’s kind of a disappointing final chase for Dracula this time. The Wolf Man’s transformation while in jail is a great moment, as is Edelmann leading the villagers in a mad chase through town.
Laughs: Not a lot of room for comic relief in this one, although we get a fun moments with the local villagers, who are some kooky characters.
Thoughts upon this viewing: While I liked House of Frankenstein, this one felt more all over the place.
Next: She’s a man-eater.
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