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cast, crew and summary of house of dracula - 1945

Lon Chaney - Lawrence Talbot
John Carradine - Count Dracula
Martha O'Driscoll - Miliza Morell
Lionel Atwill - Inspector Holtz
Jane Adams - Nina
Onslow Stevens - Dr. Edelman
Ludwig Stossel - Zeigfried
Glenn Strange - The Monster
Skelton Knaggs - Steinmuhl
Joe Bernard - Brahms
Dick Dickinson - Villager
Fred Cordova - Gendarme
Carey Harrison - Gendarme
Harry Lamont - Villager
Gregory Muradian - Johannes
Beatrice Gray - Mother

universal pictures


Erle C. Kenton

Edward T. Lowe

Paul Malvern

George Robinson
John P. Fulton

Russell Schoengarth

Music Composer:
Edgar Fairchild

Art Direction:
John B. Goodman
Martin Obzina

Costume Design:
Vera West

film summary
At the same time both Count Dracula and the wolfman, Larry Talbot, arrive at the sanitarium of Dr Franz Edelman in Vasaria, seeking a cure for their various afflictions. Edelman has hope for being able to help Talbot with a rare plant that will expand the cranium. He also arranges a series of transfusions from himself to Dracula. But then Dracula places his attentions on seducing Edelman’s nurse Melissa. As Edelman tries to stop him, Dracula reverses the blood transfusion, causing Edelman to turn into a monster.

House of Dracula was the third of the monster teamups made by Universal during the 1940s. In a desire to reach beyond the creatively limited formulas of each monster’s individual story arc, Universal had first paired the Frankenstein monster and the wolfman in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) and then added Dracula to the mix for House of Frankenstein (1944). House of Dracula would be the last serious entry before Universal started to team the monsters up with Abbott and Costello. In all cases the creative transparency of the novelty of the idea is far too easily seen and the films had to stretch credibility to find reasons to get their monsters together. House of Dracula actually comes up with the most original and ingenious reason to do so of all the series - in this case both Dracula and the wolfman have come in search of a doctor who can cure their respective afflictions. And for awhile the film actually verges on the intriguingly science-fictional in offering a potential medical cure for either.

And armed with an original idea, House of Dracula actually starts out quite well. The director is Erle C. Kenton who also made the companion piece House of Frankenstein the year before, which had some interesting moments, as well as the great The Island of Lost Souls (1932). Kenton’s direction is fairly pedestrian but not without occasional flashes of interest. There’s a fine scene with Dracula (again played by John Carradine who essayed the role in House of Frankenstein and plays the part as a gentleman courtier lacking in much threat) mentally controlling Martha O’Driscoll sitting at the piano and making her play a strange piece of music that she has never played before until she breaks the spell by inadvertently touching her crucifix.

Unfortunately, as is too often the case with the perpetually rushed screenplays of these films, the latter half fumbles an interesting beginning. Dracula, for no clearly discernible reason, injects Onslow Stevens with his blood and causes him to become a madman. There are some interesting scenes with Stevens running around the town, casting a giant shadow, that seem to have been modeled on The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1919) - his makeup under transformation has certainly been taken from Caligari. The Frankenstein monster is perfunctorily revived at the end in a really cheap lab effect - again the film has to stretch credibility to work this in - before everything expectedly goes up in flames.