House of Dracula (1945)
Overview: Dracula and the Wolf Man approach a doctor searching for a cure for their ailments. Also, Frankenstein is there.
Dracula: Another movie with Dracula in the title and another actor as the central vampire. John Carradine plays Dracula again after his first appearance in the prequel to this movie, House of Frankenstein (covered in these pages next week). Admittedly his role in House of Frankenstein amounted to little more than a cameo while in House of Dracula he is the central villain. Carradine is tall, thin, and wears grey-white moustaches, so out of the actors so far he is the closest to Stoker’s original description. Other than that he adds nothing to the role that Lugosi wasn’t already doing, and he doesn’t add an extra element like Chaney did. That being said he is a great Dracula even if he is just playing it safe. It’s also good after House of Frankenstein to see him get some time to stretch his legs and be a solid villain.
Wolf Man, Frankenstein and the rest: Lon Chaney Junior is back as the Wolf Man and continues to fill that role with an exhausted sadness when he’s a man, and feral anger when he’s the wolf. He gets the hero role in this movie as the poor wretch who’s trying to stop killing people and who needs to bring down Doctor Erdmann when the latter goes mad.
That is something interesting about the House Of… movies. Each one seems to have a prerequisite to feature Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man, but also a mad scientist and a hunchback. They do well to subvert these roles from House of Frankenstein, which featured a mad scientist and his murderous hunchbacked assistant. In House of Dracula the doctor is a good man until Dracula makes him mad and his assistant, Rita, has a hunch but past of the doctor’s research is to help her fix it. She is also completely un-murderous.
In a similar move to House of Frankenstein, the Monster stays inert for a majority of the movie, only coming to life a few minutes before the end before being quickly dispatched. I guess there’s not much they can do with him except have him go on rampages and that gets old soon. Perhaps if they had kept all that good Bride of Frankenstein development then the character would have more legs, but it’s not to be.
Overall: I really like the House of…movies. Much like The Avengers, I love seeing how the filmmakers mix these disparate ingredients together into something that works. Also I am a sucker for a mad scientist, and these movies have two of the best I’ve ever seen.
Featured Image: Universal Pictures