Thoughts on “House of Dracula (1945)”

“House of Dracula” is the second movie that combines all of the Universal characters into one grand — yet short, as per the movies of the time — movie.  This one should arguably focus more on Dracula given the name, but instead the real focus is on a Doctor Edelmann who is developing a remarkable method for reshaping bone that he hopes to use to cure his (female) hunchback assistant, but which he suspects can cure the Wolfman — played again by Lon Chaney Jr, who again puts in a good performance — as well.  He also suspects that he can cure Count Dracula of his vampirism with blood transfusions.  In general, he seems to be someone who is obsessed with curing and dealing with these sorts of strange phenomena, which is only exacerbated when he ends up finding the Frankenstein monster, and it is clear that he wants to revive him, but he is convinced of how bad an idea that would be by his assistants.  However, he ends up having a falling out with Dracula over Dracula’s obsession with Edelmann’s assistant (not the hunchback) and while Edelmann tries to kill Dracula, Dracula turns the tables, hypnotizes him, and gives him a blood transfusion of Dracula’s blood that ends up turning the Doctor into a kind of Dr, Jekyll and Mr. Hyde kind of person, which activates his obsession with reviving the monster (and also causes him to become more murderous).  At the end, the townspeople come to attack Edelmann for his crimes and the castle is destroyed, killing the Doctor and burying the monster, with Talbot arguably cured.

Unlike “House of Frankenstein”, I think this one does more with the Frankenstein monster than that one did with Dracula.  Sure, the monster didn’t actually come to life until the very end of the movie, but it plays a bigger role in this movie and Edelmann’s vampire-blood-driven madness definitely calls back to the obsessions of the original Frankenstein, and so the monster plays a larger role in the plot overall, whereas in “House of Frankenstein” Dracula was reduced to a subplot.  Adding in the Wolfman and his potential cure means that the main elements of the Universal horror movies are all represented pretty well in this one.

I also liked the main plot, which focuses on Edelmann.  We can see his obsessions, and he does come across as the sort of character that would be smart enough to come up with his cures, curious enough to explore the maladies of the main characters, and courageous enough to be willing to deal with them.  While his end is tragic — as is the ends of pretty much all of the sympathetic characters in the movie — the tragedy follows from the plot and characters as written pretty well, and Edelmann is an interesting character to follow.  And the supporting characters all fill their roles well as they do the things that we would expect them to do, including the hunchbacked assistant who is nice enough that we can see why the Doctor really wants to help her with his new techniques.

About the only issue I have with it is that, again, the ending is pretty abrupt.  But I have to get used to that with these older movies.

So, I liked this movie and would definitely watch it again.  The last movie in this pack is actually an Abbott and Costello film, which will be the first time I’ve actually seen one (I also haven’t really seen anything of “The Three Stooges”).  So it will be interesting to see what my reaction to that movie will be.

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