Saturday, July 21, 2007

House of Frankenstein

House of Frankenstein (1944)

Directed by: Erle C. Kenton
Written by: Edward T. Lowe Jr., based on some story by Curt Siodmak, the name of which I can't remember. The Devil's something or other
Starring: Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., J. Carroll Naish, Elena Verdugo, John Carradine, Anne Gwynne, Peter Coe, Sig Ruman, Lionel Atwill, George Zucco, Glenn Strange

Sixth film in Universal's Frankenstein series, and third for The Wolf Man, following Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man. I guess it's also the third or fourth in the Dracula series, depending on whether or not you count Son, although I'm starting to think that it's not really connected (prepare yourself for extreme nerdiness - in this movie they mention that Drac's body was found in his castle in Transylvania with a stake through his heart. In Tod Browning's Dracula, the Count was staked in Carfax Abbey, and later his body was burned by the title character in Dracula's Daughter. In Son of Dracula, he was burned to death by the sun, down in Louisiana or someplace. So this really has more to do with the Dracula of the book (who wasn't staked either. He was stabbed by a Bowie knife or whatever those things are called))

I need a hobby. Anyway, this movie is about a mad contemporary of Frankenstein and his hunchbacked assistant who escape from prison in an earthquake (the same one from Da Vinci Code, me thinks), kill the owner of a traveling monster show and wake up the skeletal remains of Dracula. The Count seems to be a bit hard to control, and goes off to seduce a beautiful young lady, so they kill him again. Then they rescue an entirely different beautiful lady from being whipped to death by some guy, and the hunchback dude falls in love with her. Unfortunately, they then find the frozen bodies of Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolf Man, and the girl falls for him (the Wolf Man, not the Monster). While that weird love triangle is going on, the mad doctor is simultaneously trying to regenerate the Monster and kill off the people who put him in prison. And there's something to do with brain transplants in there

And then everybody ends up dead - the Wolf Man and the gypsy girl kill one another, the hunchback gets thrown out the window and the Monster accidentally drowns himself and takes the Doctor with him.

I should probably mention that this is a really dumb movie. There's way too much stuff going on, like the creators were just sort of reveling in the fact that they had all the monsters and didn't bother coming up with a solid plot (the same problem that plagued Van Helsing). But it is really cool seeing all those monsters together (they aren't all together at the same time, but it still counts). My only regret is that the Mummy and the Invisible Man couldn't have been worked in there somehow. The Creature from the Black Lagoon hadn't been invented yet, so there was no chance of him turning up.

The other groovey thing is all the people who are in it - Boris Karloff, John Carradine and Lon Chaney Jr. of course, J. Carroll Naish, Lionel Atwill (who played the same character in Son of Frankenstein, although in that movie he had a wooden arm), George Zucco. The little guys of the old timey horror scene.

It was fun watching all those people running around. I'm not hard to amuse. Boris Karloff though, eh (I'd best not start this again. I can't help myself. He had a little moustache. He can wear a moustache very well. There, I've stopped).

For people who like the old Universal monster movies and their stars, I'd recommend it. Everyone else would probably just think it was dumb. Oh well.


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