TITLE: House of Dracula
YEAR RELEASE: 1945
DIRECTOR: Erie C Keaton
CAST: Lon Chaney Jnr, John Carradine, Onslow Stevens, Lionel Atwill, Martha O’Driscoll, Jane Adams, Glenn Strange
REVIEW BY SIMON BALL
The final nail in the coffin of Universal’s monster cycle House of Dracula opens with the Count (John Carradine) presenting himself at Dr Edelmann’s (Onslow Stevens) inclusive clinic, research lab and creepy castle. Claiming he wants a release from the curse of vampirism he persuades Edelmann to take him on as a patient before retreating to box of his native soil that he has somehow managed to smuggle into Edelmann’s cellar.
As if having one monster on his books isn’t enough Wolfman Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jnr) turns up, despite having coped a silver bullet in House of Frankenstein the previous year. Talbot hopes Edelmann can cure his lycanthropy (he’s an in demand doc for the supernaturally challenged) and it’s a full moon that night, however Edelmann is busy transfusing his own blood into Dracula so Talbot checks into the local jail run by Inspector Holtz (Lionel Atwill). Arriving at Visaria nick just in time to see Talbot change Edelmann decides to take the case.
Now Edelmann reckons that lycanthropy is caused by pressure on the brain and it just so happens he is working on a fungus that can remould bones, but he does not have enough to operate that night. Unable to face another night as a wolf, Talbot throws himself off the cliff into the sea. Confident that Talbot will have been washed into one of the caves beneath the castle Edelmann sets off to find him. Not only does he locate the Wolfman, but he also finds the comatose Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange), who has been deposited in the cave by the quicksand that claimed him at the conclusion of House of Frankenstein and discovers that the caves have just the right humidity to speed up the growth of his bone moulding fungus. And things just keep getting better as Talbot discovers that the caves are linked to the castle’s cellar! Who’d have expected that?
So with the plants in the caves and the Monster in the lab, Edelmann sets about giving Drac another transfusion, only the sneaky double crosser hypnotises Edelmann and hunchbacked nurse Nina (Jane Adams), reverses the process and goes off to put the bite on the glamorous Milizia (Martha O’Driscoll). In the nick of time Edelmann and Nina revive and together with Talbot see the old vamp off, before crisping up his dormant body in the Sun.
Now the doc is in trouble as Dracula’s blood is in his veins and he goes all Jekyll and Hyde. After operating on Talbot he’s off murdering people in town. Naturally the villagers think its Talbot up to his old tricks and they are off to the castle with the flaming brands. Up at the castle Edelmann attempts to revive the Monster and in the general mayhem that ensues the cured Talbot gets the girl, Edelmanm gets the bullet and the monster gets torched in the inevitable final conflagration.
Not the best end to the Universal monster canon (discounting Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein), but its still quite fun and at least Carradine gets more time on camera as the Count.
SIMON BALL is a freelance writer and Editor at Large with the Horror Hothouse website, You can follow him on Twitter @RealShipscook