House of Dracula

House of Dracula is a 1945 American horror film released by Universal Pictures. Directed by Erle C. Kenton, the film features several Universal Horror properties meeting as they had done previously in the film The House of Frankenstein. The film is set at the castle home of Dr. Franz Edelmann, who is visited by first by Count Dracula and later by Larry Talbot, who are trying to cure their vampirism and lycanthropy, respectively. The doctor agrees to help the count, who arrives first, but is unable to aid Larry Talbot. Talbot tries to get himself imprisoned to control his Wolf Man other self, but eventually tries to commit suicide by leaping into the ocean near the castle. Talbot survives the fall, only to find the body of Frankenstein's monster in a cave near the bottom of the castle. Edelemann takes the monster's body back to his laboratory, but finds that Count Dracula has awoken and on attacking his assistants, he captures Edelmann and forces a reverse blood transfusion, which gives Edelmann a split personality that likes to cause havoc for those around him.

House of Dracula
House-of-dracula-theatrical-movie-poster-md.jpg
Theatrical film poster
Directed byErle C. Kenton
Produced byPaul Malvern[2]
Screenplay byEdward T. Lowe
Story by
Starring
CinematographyGeorge Robinson[2]
Edited byRussell Schoengarth[2]
Production
companies
Distributed byUniversal Pictures Company, Inc.
Release date
  • 7 December 1945 (1945-12-07)
Running time
67 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States[1]
LanguageEnglish[1]

Initially set to be directed by Ford Beebe with Bela Lugosi reprising his role of Count Dracula, the film eventually went into production being directed by Kenton and with John Carradine in the role of Count Dracula as he had done in The House of Frankenstein.

PlotEdit

Count Dracula arrives at the castle home of Dr. Franz Edelmann. The count explains that he has come to Visaria to find a cure for his vampirism. Dr. Edelmann agrees to help, believing that vampirism can be cured by a series of blood transfusions. The count agrees to this, and Edelmann uses his own blood for the transfusions. After, the count has his coffin placed in the castle basement. That night, Lawrence Talbot arrives at the castle demanding to see Dr. Edelmann about a cure for his lycanthropy. Talbot is told to wait, but knowing the moon is rising, Talbot has himself incarcerated by the police. Inspector Holtz asks Edelmann to see Talbot, and as the full moon rises, they both witness his transformation into the Wolf Man. Edelmann and his assistant Milizia have him transferred to the castle the next morning. Edelmann tells him that he believes that Talbot's transformations are not triggered by the moonlight, but by pressure on the brain, and believes he can relieve the pressure and asks Talbot to wait while he gathers more spores from a plant he believes can cure him. Despondent by the thought of becoming the Wolf Man again, Talbot attempts suicide by jumping into the ocean, only to end up in a cave below the castle.

Edelmann finds Talbot in the cave, where they find the catatonic Frankenstein's monster, still clutching the skeleton of Dr. Niemann. Humidity in the cave is perfect for propagating the clavaria formosa, and a natural tunnel in the cave connects to a basement of the castle. Dr. Edelmann takes the monster back to his lab, but considers reviving him to be too dangerous. Meanwhile, the count tries to seduce Milizia and make her a vampire, but Milizia wards him off with a cross. Edelmann interrupts to explain that he has found strange antibodies in the count's blood, requiring another transfusion. Edelmann's assistant Nina begins shadowing Milizia and discovers that the count casts no reflection in a mirror. She warns Edelmann of the vampire's danger to Milizia. Edelmann prepares a transfusion that will destroy the vampire. During the procedure, the count uses his hypnotic powers to put Edelmann and Nina to sleep and reverses the flow of the transfusion, sending his own blood into the doctor's veins. When they awake, the count is carrying Milizia away. They revive Talbot and force the count away with a cross; Talbot returns to his coffin as the sun is beginning to rise. Edelmann follows him and drags the open coffin into the sunlight, destroying him.

Edelmann begins to react to Dracula's blood, and finds that he no longer casts a reflection in a mirror. Falling unconscious, he sees strange visions of a monstrous version of himself performing unspeakable acts. Edelmann awakens, and tries to perform the operation on Talbot. Edelmann begins leaping into a more monstrous personality, and murders his gardener. When the townspeople discover the body, they chase Edelmann, believing him to be Talbot. They follow him to the castle, where Holtz and Steinmuhl interrogate Talbot and Edelmann. Steinmuhl is convinced that Edelmann is the murderer, and assembles a mob to execute him. Talbot is cured by the operation, but Edelmann again turns into his mostrous self. Edelmann revives Frankenstein's monster, with the others witnessing Edelmann's transformation, and Edelmann breaks Nina's neck and tosses her body into the cave. Holtz and Steinmuhl lead the townspeople to the castle, where the police attack the monster, but are subdued by the creature. Edelmann kills Holtz by accidental electrocution, and Talbot shoots Edelmann dead. Talbot traps the monster under fallen shelving as a fire breaks out, and the townspeople flee the burning castle. The burning roof collapses on the monster.

CastEdit

Cast adapted from the book Universal Horrors.[3]

ProductionEdit

House of Dracula is a continuation of the film The House of Frankenstein.[3] The authors of the book Univeral Horrors described the film as almost a remake of the film.[3] The first news of a follow-up to House of Frankenstein arrived in Hollywood trade papers in April 1944 with the announcement of a film titled Wolf Man vs. Dracula, a film whose script was quite different than that of House of Dracula.[3] By February 1945, the film was being called House of Dracula, with a different script with Ford Beebe listed as the films director and producer.[3] At the time, it was announced that Dracula was to be portrayed by Bela Lugosi.[3] Elements of an earlier draft of a script dated September 20, 1945 titled Destiny features a scene where Edlemann examines a seven-year-old boy whose leg he has healed.[4] Despite being cut, the finished film has references to this scene.[4]

The film went into production in September, with producer Paul Malvern and director Erle C. Kenton, and Dracula was again being portrayed by John Carradine as he had in House of Frankenstein.[3] Several scenes from previous Universal Horror films were re-used in House of Dracula.[5] These included the dream sequence that lifts parts of Bride of Frankenstein, sequences of The Ghost of Frankenstein's fiery climax reappear in the burning of Edelmann's castle.[5] Some props and sets are also re-used from earlier films, including The Invisible Woman and The Mummy's Hand.[5] The films scores also reuses pieces from Black Friday, Man-Made Monster, The Wolf Man, The Ghost of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, House of Frankenstein, The Scarlet Claw, and The Invisible Man's Revenge.[5]

ReleaseEdit

 
Re-release lobby card for House of Dracula featuring Onslow Stevens as Dr. Franz Edelmann after the blood transfusion with Count Dracula

House of Dracula was distributed theatrically by the Universal Pictures Company on December 7, 1945.[2] The film was released on a double bill with the Western film The Daltons Ride Again, which also featured Chaney.[6]

ReceptionEdit

From contemporary reviews, The Motion Picture Herald declared, "This film fulfills the requirements for a satisfactory horror picture."[6]Jack D. Grant of The Hollywood Reporter also praised the film, stating that "the realms of pseudo-science interestingly invaded, and the squeamish proceedings given steady pace under the knowing direction of Erle C. Kenton."[6] The Motion Picture Exhibitor found the film will have "plenty of suspense, dark dungeons and satisfactory performances by the entire cast".[6] More negative reviews came from Otis L. Guernsey, Jr. of The New York Herald-Tribune who found that Universal was "substituting quantity for imagination" while a review in Harrison's Reports found it "more ludicrous than terrifying [...] much happens, but nothing that will surprise anyone."[6] Dorothy Masters of The New York Daily News gave the film a one and half star rating, proclaiming that it was "positively guaranteed not to scare the pants off of anybody" and "unfortunately, the film hasn't the capacity of being funny either, and is often the case when synthetic horror becomes too rambunctious."[6]

From retrospective reviews, Craig Butler of the online film database AllMovie found that while the film had an interesting premise (Dracula and the Wolf Man seeking a cure for their curses), the idea was not developed efficiently and that "coincidence runs rampant, further erasing the delicate "believability" line that is so difficult to maintain in supernatural flics."The review also noted that the film had "very little horror| with on exception being the "marvelous sequence involving Dracula and his intended victim, the latter seated at the piano and playing "Moonlight Sonata" as the good Count begins to work his spell upon her."[7]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "House of Dracula". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 5, 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c d e f Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 501.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 502.
  4. ^ a b Weaver, Tom; Brunas, Michael; Brunas, John (2007) [1990]. Universal Horrors (2 ed.). McFarland & Company. p. 506. ISBN 978-0-7864-2974-5.
  5. ^ a b c d Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 507.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 509.
  7. ^ Butler, Craig. "House of Dracula (1945)". AllMovie. Retrieved February 5, 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)


External linksEdit