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House Of Dracula [DVD]
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Sequel to 'House of Frankenstein' (1944). Count Dracula (John Carradine) arrives at the laboratory of Dr Edelman, claiming to seek a cure for his vampirism, but in fact eager to turn Edelman's beautiful assistant into his vampire bride. At the same time, a wretched Wolf Man Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr) asks Edelman to bring his lycanthropy to an end. The first attempt to cure Talbot fails, and he throws himself off a cliff in a bid to commit suicide. This attempt fails, but leads him to an underground cavern where he discovers the monster (Glenn Strange) created years before by Dr Frankenstein... The last in the original Universal series of horror films was later followed by the comedy send-up 'Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein' (1948).
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The only decent aspect of House of Dracula revolves around Larry Talbot, as he is finally freed from the curse of the werewolf. The appearance of Frankenstein's monster seems to be little more than an afterthought, and John Carradine is simply horrible as Count Dracula. This was the last of the Universal monster films in their original, horror-oriented sense. They would reappear as comic relief vehicles alongside Abbott and Costello, but when you get right down to it, the script writers of House of Dracula did what all those villagers never proved capable of doing - they killed (for good) not one classic monster but three.
happily though, the universal horror cycle finishes on a high; lon chaney jnr. returning for his fourth outing as larry talbot/the wolfman, takes centre stage by his desire to be finally rid of his affliction. he plays the part well. although i consider john carradine only adequate as dracula, i'm glad that he has more screentime here than before. i'm also happy to see lionel atwill again in a role that should have been expanded.
the only negative points i can think of, are as follows; onslow stevens as the kindly doctor turned mad scientist, isn't quite convincing enough(certainly not as effective as boris karloff in "house of frankenstein"), glenn strange as the frankenstein monster is merely added for the effect of "window dressing" and the film does feel slightly restricted with everything revolving around the film set of the hospital.
still, these are mere quibbles and can easily be forgotten. long may the legacy of the universal horror films live on.
the same old monsters are on hand to cause havoc and mayhem all over again: just as before, dracula is given the most screentime which i happen to agree with as he is by far the most interesting horror character. john carradine's second appearance as count dracula is in some ways better than before and he plays the character more for eerieness than for chills. old favourite lionel atwill is on hand again for the last time and only a year before his untimely death.
the sets are as good as they ever were and i am glad that the same backlot of the european village was once again put to good use.
overall, the film has a good pace and there is plenty happening to keep the fans happy.
it is just a pity that lon chaney jnr. is rather wasted in his appearances as the wolfman which are all too brief and rather sidelined.
the same can be said for glenn strange as the frankenstein monster as all he does is his usual display of wanton violence and destruction.
even so, the universal horror films could have finished on a far worse film but happily, that has not happened.
The climax is a huge let down, simply because it has been done so many times previously.
An average film to send off the monsters, but for historicial value to the genuine horror fan this is still an essential purchase.
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