House Of Dracula (1945) Dractober Review

Last seen getting all skeletal over his coffin on a roadside knoll, Drac’s back and in rude health, although that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to consult his physician…

Count Dracula (Carradine), posing as Baron Latos (a step up, at least, from Count Alucard) arrives in Visaria to visit the castle home of Dr Franz Edlemann (Onslow Stevens), seeking a cure for his vampirism. Dr Edlemann, whose Craigslist advert must be very persuasive, also welcomes Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr) who is also seeking to be finally cured of his lycanthropy. Edlemann agrees to help, believing his research into a rare plant may hold the key to both conditions. But when the treatments have unexpected side effects and the good Doctor stumbles upon the preserved remains of Frankenstein’s monster, things take a turn for the worse.

Universal’s Classic Monster Universe beats George Lucas to the punch by some fifty years or so by suggesting that vampirism is linked directly to microscopic creatures in the blood. Speed, agility, superhuman reflexes, ability to influence the weak-minded; are vampires just nocturnal Jedi? Come to think of it, do we know for sure Jedis don’t drink blood?

Anyway, Dracula’s suddenly fleshy status isn’t the only unexplained resurrection this film has to offer. The Wolf Man’s back too, last seen getting shot by a silver bullet. This is explicitly a direct sequel to “House Of Frankenstein” yet only Frankenstein’s monster’s reappearance is explained.

For the early part of the film, it’s more of a hospital drama than a horror movie, a “House MD of Dracula”, if you will, but it’s still a much stronger outing for Dracula. He has a plan and he has agency, and when his true identity is discovered, he cunningly turns the tables on the venerable Dr Edlemann, turning him into the mad scientist these movies always end up needing, a low-key Jekyll & Hyde homage.

Poor, long-suffering Larry Talbot is finally cured of his ailment and even gets to be something of the hero by the end (although he would eventually become re-infected in time to appear in “Abbot And Costello Meet Frankenstein”) and, as has become customary, Frankenstein’s monster is only involved for the final few minutes, this time effectively being played by three people as footage from “The Ghost Of Frankenstein” and “House Of Frankenstein” is used to supplement Glenn Strange’s work.

7/10 

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