Thoughts on “House of Frankenstein (1944)”

After I complained about his performance in “Son of Dracula”, Lon Chaney Jr. returns here as what is probably his more classic role as the Wolfman, and does a much better job of it, even managing to get into a believable romantic subplot when the romance in “Son of Dracula” did not work at all.  The first reason why it works better here is because Chaney isn’t sporting a ridiculous moustache and seems to have returned to his darker hair colour.  The other reason is that he isn’t trying to portray a strangely charismatic vampire, but instead is portraying a tortured man that he seems perfectly able to play.  So returning to his more natural role and passing the Dracula role on to John Carradine works better, especially since John Carradine does manage to pull off the role convincingly.

The other thing to note here is that at this point Universal had their own movie universe — similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and to the universe that they tried to rebuild recently — and this movie really is an attempt to bring them all together, so it’s sort of like an “Avengers” for their universe.  However, the plot turns Dracula into more of a side plot and so doesn’t really integrate him into the movie.  He is revived by the mad scientist main character — played quite well by Boris Karloff — to participate in some revenge-taking, betrays him, and is killed in one lengthy but ultimately pointless sequence.  The movie, then, focuses on the scientist’s attempts to revive the Frankenstein monster, with a love triangle in the mix between the Igor character Daniel, a gypsy girl, and the revived Wolfman (from what seems to be a crossover between the two where the Wolfman and monster fought and were all frozen).  However, this all does work pretty well, albeit perhaps a bit rushed.  And it continues the trend of having abrupt endings, as at the end the gypsy girl is killed by the Wolfman, kills the Wolfman as she dies, Daniel attacks the scientist as he blames him for her death, the monster defends the scientist, and then carries the scientist off to perish in quicksand.

The movie would have been much improved if it had either removed the sequence with Dracula or integrated it more into the rest of the movie.  If it had been dropped, then more time would have been left to better develop the rest of the story, and if it had been integrated then it would have done something for the rest of the movie to justify the time it took.  Still, it does manage to get its plot and relationships across in a relatively short running time, which is more than a lot of modern horror movies manage.  I could watch this movie again.

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One Response to “Thoughts on “House of Frankenstein (1944)””

  1. Thoughts on “House of Dracula (1945)” | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] “House of Frankenstein”, I think this one does more with the Frankenstein monster than that one did with Dracula.  Sure, […]

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