In HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, 1944, the new Count Dracula was quickly brought to life and quickly vanquished so fast (in the space of about ten minutes), that he wasn't given time to establish himself as character, threat, or much else other than - literally - road kill.
But that was the ham-fisted way Universal reintroduced the new actor playing Count Dracula (John Carradine: HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE HOWLING). This was back in 1945, so what's done is done. We can't change the past, only learn from it.
Over half a century later, Universal learned that, when it came to home video, bundle this sucker with their superior Dracula movies and let the bean counters sort out the monetary distribution if any.
So a big bat changes to a man with a top hat, tilted at a rakish angle. He checks out some pretty young woman sleeping in bed, then walks down the steps to the ground below and surreptitiously enters a sleeping man's house. The man wakes and batman presents himself as Baron Latos. He asks for shelter in the castle basement from the total stranger, Dr. Franz Edelmann (Onslow Stevens: THE MONSTER AND THE GIRL, THE CREEPER, THEM!), who owns the house, and engages him in a discussion in vampirism - all at 5:00 in the freaking morning. Dr. Abelman is nothing if not gregarious.
Baron Latos: Dr. Edelmann, do you believe in the immortality of the soul?
Yeah, it's tough finding a middle ground between those two.
Baron Latos: You doubt the supernatural?
A pillar of salt? Sure! So long as it's a one time thing. Rising from the dead, parting the seas, talking snakes, wrestling with angels, living in whales, chatty burning bushes, conversing with ghosts, gambling with Satan, and bears that don't take kindly to bald prophets being mocked by children, I'll grant you. But a super being that can change into a bat? Come my good fellow, you're talking to a man of SCIENCE!
So they walk down into the castle basement. There, below ground level right next to a window overlooking treetops (!), is Dracula's coffin (!!).
Yes, Dracula. Within seconds Baron Latos reveals that he lied, he's really Count Dracula and he needs Abelman's help.
Dracula wants to live, but not as a blood sucking vampire. The whole, sleeping on dirt in a coffin, avoiding sunlight, constantly looking for fresh victims, only drinking your food, it all gets to be a real bitch after the first 100 years. There's never a decent meal, night out with friends, or waking up late in the morning next to the warm, sensuous body of your lover.
And though you are an immortal, it's not like you can't die. Hell, you die all the damn time! You might die ten times throughout the course of a single human lifetime! Hunger forces you to drink blood from a woman you'd rather sleep with; intimately suck on some filthy odorous beggar you'd rather not touch with a ten foot pole.
You die, quickly rot to a skeleton or dust, are brought back - always in a new place with new people (you have no idea where the hell you are and you could be any damn place) - wind up painfully dying again, are brought back again by an unknown, yet clearly sinister dullard, who arrogantly thinks he's your master (fortunately you always come back well dressed for anything): Arrogant moron CAN control you because the idiot holds a ring or locket or some such cheap crap. You get it away from him, put the bastard out of his misery, but a mortal hero with the comparative strength of a gerbil irritatingly taunts you with garlic (Argh that stench!), painfully burns you with a cross or holy water (son of a bitch!), and throws a rock through a window, killing you (god damn sunlight! Shit!). Yet you still come back again, possibly a century later in a time and place you know nothing about, by some cow-eyed half-wit who raised you from the dead so you'll give him your gift of everlasting immortality.
Yeah, NUTS to this vampire shit, man!
Oh! From the Basement window we can see that the dawn is coming over the treetops Below (!!!). Time for this dipshit vampire to get into his coffin, right next to the window Where the Sun Shines Through. Golly! How will Dracula ever be defeated in THIS movie?(!!!!)
(I think my brain is actually hurting by this point.)
The next day, Dr. Edelmann talks shop to his nurse, Nina. They are researching mold and fungus and Nina (Jane Adams: THE BRUTE MAN, BATMAN AND ROBIN ) will be the first to benefit by it. What's wrong with the lovely Nina you may ask? When she stands up from the table, we see that she is a spine twisted hunchback. What molds and fungus have to do with corrective vertebrae surgery I've no idea, but I'd be the second to say I'm no expert on the subject (right after my jerk of a university professor who won't shut up about it).
Sun sets and the staff has been told to expect "Baron Latos". As it happens, Baron Latos knows one of the nurses.
What their history is we've no idea but apparently it didn't involve him killing her.
Dr. Edelmann discovers a peculiar, unknown parasite in Count Dracula's blood. Abelman has no idea what this parasite does but they should get rid of it.
Lawrence Talbot shows up, still trying to die. He was already shot dead in THE WOLF MAN (1941) before the mythos demanded a silver bullet. Then shot dead by a silver bullet in HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944!). Universal didn't care if their audience remembered or not in 1945. Not even that Lon Chaney Jr., who plays the werewolf, played the Son of Dracula in 1943!
So Dr. Edelmann finds his hands full with both Count Dracula and Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.: [all of the Universal Pictures Wolf Man movies and appearances of the 20th Century], THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN, SON OF DRACULA, HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, HOUSE OF DRACULA, THE MAD GHOUL, WEIRD WOMAN, THE FROZEN GHOST) and they both want help. And wouldn't you know it, both of their problems may be solved by the doctor's research in mold and fungus cultures.
Lawrence hasn't been right in the head for some time and when he doesn't get immediate satisfaction to his hairy problem, decides to end it all and throw himself off a cliff into the ocean below. The audience knows that's a meaningless gesture for the immortal Talbot and he should know as well. Which puts his whole tragic "misery and despair" dramatics into shallow perspective. From this moment on, Lawrence is just a whiner.
Dr. Edelmann believes Talbot may still be alive by having been swept into one of the cliff caves below. He finds Talbot, gives him hope, and they stumble across the sleeping body of the Frankenstein creature (oh for crap sake!).
So now Dr. Edelmann has Count Dracula, The Wolf Man, and the Frankenstein creature (Glenn Strange). The combination for science experiments on all three proves irresistible and Abelman goes down the path of all mad scientists before him.
Miss Morrel (Martha O'Driscoll: GHOST CATCHERS) is oddly excited by watching Lawrence transform into a werewolf (behind the safety of metal bars) and falls in lust with him. Then she falls in love in "Baron Latos". Dracula, finding himself attracted to Miss Morrel in turn, begins having second thoughts about a "cure". After all, there's also that benefit of hypnotizing beautiful women into obeying your every will. Your *every* will...
Ethically speaking, having hypnotic powers of seduction would be a much bigger temptation for me than trying to restore an uncontrollable monster to his full power. But that may be a personal flaw of mine.
Dr. Edelmann has a hospital to run, a werewolf to cure, and a creature to bring back to full power. He has no time for Count Dracula's farting around with the staff. It's time to give the Count another blood transfusion, this time using the doctor's own blood!
Will the villagers get involved? (oh you KNOW they will! If there's one thing I've learned from the Universal monster movies of the 1930s and 40s, it's that only an angry mob can bring order out of chaos!). Will Doctor Edelmann cure Count Dracula? Does Count Dracula still want to be cured? Can Lawrence Talbot ever be cured? Will Miss Morrel be saved from Dracula? Will she fall in love with the Frankenstein creature as well? Will Nina lose her hump? Will the Frankenstein creature ever have a point in this movie? All of these questions may or may not be answered in THE HOUSE OF DRACULA!
Two Shriek Girls
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