“Something tragic about him. He had the look of a man tormented by fear.”
Dracula (John Carradine), calling himself Baron Latos, seeks out Dr. Franz Edelmann (Onslow Stevens) looking for a cure for his vampirism. The doctor agrees to help. He examines the vampire’s blood and finds a parasite he has never seen before. He believes that he may be able to cure the vampire with transfusions and an antitoxin. The doctor enlists the aid of his assistants, Milizia (Martha O'Driscoll) and the hunchbacked Nina (Jane Adams). The doctor says he will use his own blood for the transfusions.
Next Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) arrives to talk to Dr. Edelmann. The doctor is busy with his transfusion and the moon is beginning to rise so Talbot races out. He manages to get himself thrown in jail. Inspector Holtz (Lionel Atwill) calls in Dr. Edelmann. The moon rises and Edelmann, Holtz and Milizia witness Talbot’s transformation. The next day he is taken to the doctor’s castle. Edelmann believes that Talbot’s transformations may not be triggered by the moonlight.
After examining Talbot, Edelman believes that pressure on his brain is causing his glands to secrete an abnormal supply of the hormone that causes him to transform. Sure. Fortunately the doctor has been working on a cure for his nurse's hunchback. A mold that softens the calcium salts (bone) may also reshape Talbot’s skull and take off some of the pressure. Or some such nonsense. Short on mold the doctor will have to grow it. It will take some time. Devastated Talbot becomes suicidal and jumps into the ocean. Instead of dying he ends up in a cave under the castle.
Edelmann searches for Talbot and finds him and Frankenstein’s Monster (Glenn Strange). As a bonus, the humidity in the cave makes it perfect for growing the mold that the doctor needs. Edelmann takes Talbot, the monster and the mold back to the castle.
Meanwhile Dracula is being naughty and trying to seduce Milizia. Nina, who has been keeping an eye on things, warns Dr. Edelmann of how dangerous Dracula is. Edelmann tells Dracula he needs another transfusion but plans on killing the vampire. Dracula will have none of that and reverses the flow of the transfusion. With Dracula’s blood flowing in his veins Dr. Edelmann is having a hard time staying human. Instead of helping monsters, Dr. Edelmann is becoming one.
“House of Dracula” was released in 1945 and was directed by Erle C. Kenton. By now Universal has given up all pretense of this being any kind of sequel. You need another monster movie? Fine, this time lets take Dracula, The Wolfman and Frankenstein, throw them up in the air, and see where they fall. In this instance Frankenstein’s monster gets short changed. They don’t find him until well into the movie, and he’s basically comatose for the rest of it.
I must have an affinity for hunchbacks as I thought the character of Nina was the best. She certainly was the smartest person there. As with “House of Frankenstein”, “House of Dracula” was like watching two movies back to back. You do get a lot of monster for your money. These three iconic monsters will only meet one more time when “Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein” is released in 1948. Since the Monster was found in quicksand, Glenn Strange spent much of the time in cold liquid. Co-star Chaney suggested Strange use alcohol to stay warm. Chaney would pass him a bottle of whiskey in between takes. Strange recalled that, by the end of the day, he was so drunk he could barely dress himself after removing his monster makeup and costume.
House of Dracula features four different actors in the role of the Monster. In addition to Glenn Strange, Boris Karloff plays the Monster in footage lifted from Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and the climax uses scenes of both Lon Chaney Jr. and his stunt double, Eddie Parker, as the Monster from The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942). Lionel Atwill was terminally ill with cancer during filming. He died six months after the production wrapped.