House of Dracula


The town of Visaria may no longer boast the talents of Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein, but it does now count among its denizens one Dr. Franz Edelmann.  Edelmann is presented with a unique challenge when none other than Count Dracula (John Carradine) shows up on his doorstep late one night.  The Count has come not to kill the doctor, merely to ask for his help.  Dracula is tired of the blood sucking life and wants Edelmann to cure his vampirism.

Edelmann has been conducting experiments with the spores from a particular plant he grows in his lab.  This, along with a transfusion of his own blood, may cure Dracula.  Being that the vampire is a creature of the night who sustains his very existence with blood, this experiment is a gamble (as I’ve said before in these articles, it was the forties, and, also, this was a B-movie).  To keep an eye on the patient, Edelmann has the test subject move his coffin to the basement.

As if one unique medical challenge were not enough, Edelmann is soon faced with another:  curing lycanthropy.  No sooner has the doctor decided on a course of action for the vampirism than Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) presents with claims of becoming a werewolf on the occasions of full moons.  When Edelmann doesn’t have time to see him, Talbot has himself thrown in the slammer by the local constabulary so he won’t kill anyone.  His mad ravings force the police to call Edelmann.  He goes to the jail and witnesses Talbot’s transformation into the Wolf Man.

Edelmann accepts Talbot as a patient and thinks his spores may be able to help this poor soul as well.  The doctor cannot find a remedy fast enough for Talbot’s liking, so Talbot jumps off a cliff.  Edelmann searches for him, finds the Wolf Man and is nearly killed before Talbot, by force of will or something, reverts back to human form.  While in the caverns underneath the doctor’s home, they find the catatonic Frankenstein’s Monster.

As all of this is going on, Dracula sort of wanders the place at night, seducing Milizia, one of Edelmann’s nurses (her milkshake brings all the nosferatu to the yard).  Nina, the hunchback nurse (always a bridesmaid), keeps her eye on the two of them and informs the doctor of her eyewitness evidence that Dracula is still a vampire. 

I do not like House of Dracula. It’s the one classic of the Universal Monsters I hated to watch a repeat viewing of.  Once more, I’m not a John Carradine fan.  I do not like him as Dracula, I think he’s one of the worst to ever wear the cape.  That aside, Bela Lugosi’s Dracula would not have helped this movie either; I don’t think a shot of Ygor mainlined into this flick would have improved it any.

Chaney is his standard self, still setting the template for future actors who can really lay on the tormented soul angle.  And I remain steadfast in my opinion that, outside of Boris Karloff, Glenn Strange is the best Monster even though the lumbering Monster gets less screen time here than Dracula did in House of Frankenstein.

I can’t find a whole lot to recommend House of Dracula outside of Chaney and Strange (and Chaney verges on annoying in this one and Strange is barely onscreen).  If you’re a completist and wish to see what the Monster’s saga has in store for one more go around, by all means, be my guest.  Casual fans need not apply.

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