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House of Frankenstein

House of Frankenstein (1944), starring Boris Karloff, John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr., J. Carrol Naish, Glenn Strange, Lionel Atwill, Anne Gwynne, Peter Coe

Synopsis of House of Frankenstein

House of Frankenstein is the first of the Universal Studios monster mashes.  In short, mad scientist Niemann and “friend Daniel” his hunchback assistant escape prison and enact a series of revenges on the people who had him imprisoned.  They murder a proprietor of a travelling show of horrors, impersonate him and revive his corpse of Dracula.  Dracula succeeds in the first part of the revenge scheme, but Niemann abandons him to be destroyed in the sunlight.  Niemann then travels to the ruins of Frankenstein’s castle.  He hopes to recover the dead doctor’s secrets, but instead recovers both the Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s monster.  He revives them both, but a romantic triangle unravels the plot.

Review of House of Frankenstein

Thoughts about House of Frankenstein

  • John Carradine does a good job of portraying the suave Count, but his Dracula frankly isn’t that threatening.
  • Friend Daniel is a cold-blooded murderer, and sycophant.  Even so, the audience feels sympathy for him when Ilonka the gypsy girl ignores his affection in order to fall for the handsome Larry Talbot.  A compliment to the acting ability of J. Carroll Naish.
  • Boris Karloff does a good job of playing the mad Dr. Niemann.

Cast of characters in House of Frankenstein

  • Doctor Gustav Niemann (Boris KarloffBride of FrankensteinThe Raven).  A mad doctor — imprisoned for trying to transplant a man’s brain into a dog’s skull.  But still highly dangerous, treacherous, and vindictive.  The entire movie tells of his attempts to get revenge on the people that he believes has wronged them.
  • Daniel the hunchback (J. Carrol NaishSaharaAnnie Get Your Gun).  Niemann’s faithful assistant – faithful to the point of insanity … until he falls in love with the gypsy girl.
  • Professor Bruno Lampini (George ZuccoThe Mad GhoulThe Cat and the Canary).  An innocent man, two travels with his “show of horrors” including the corpse of Dracula.  He’s soon murdered by Niemann and Daniel, who then impersonate him … and have plans for Dracula.
  • Dracula (John CarradineMary of ScotlandInvisible Invaders).  Revived by Niemann to get revenge on his enemies … and left by him to “die” in the sunlight.
  • Bürgermeister Hussman (Sig RumanA Night in CasablancaStalag 17).  A nice fellow and family man, murdered by Dracula.  The man who originally had Neimann imprisoned.
  • Rita Hussman (Anne GwynneFlash Gordon Conquers the UniverseWeird Woman).  Hussman’s newlywed granddaughter-in-law, mesmerised, who is mesmerized by Dracula.
  • Carl Hussman (Peter CoeRoad to BaliThe Mummy’s Curse).  Rita’s husband and Hussman’s grandson, determined to save her.
  • Inspector Arnz (Lionel AtwillSon of FrankensteinGhost of Frankenstein).  The good inspector, who trails the various criminals.
  • Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.The Wolf ManMy Favorite Brunette).  The reluctant Wolf Man, who still searches for an end to his curse … or his life.  Despite the gypsy girl’s obvious affection for him. Revived alongside Frankenstein’s Monster by Niemann and Daniel.
  • Ilonka (Elena VerdugoMarcus Welby M.D.).  The beautiful gypsy girl that Niemann and Daniel rescue.  Daniel swiftly falls in love with her, but she instead falls in love with Talbot.  This romantic triangle leads to tragedy all around.
  • Inspector Muller (Philip Van Zandt, Citizen Kane, Musty Musketeers).

Editorial review of House of Frankenstein courtesy of Amazon.com

House of Frankenstein (1944), starring Boris Karloff, John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr., J. Carrol Naish, Glenn Strange, Lionel Atwill, Anne Gwynne, Peter CoeThe first of Universal’s all-star monster tag-team bouts, House of Frankenstein boasts Dracula, the Wolf Man, and Frankenstein’s monster, plus a menacing mad scientist (played with hammy glee by Boris Karloff) and his hunchbacked assistant (J. Carroll Naish). It’s really more like two films. Karloff and Naish escape prison and find the skeleton of Dracula, resurrecting the dapper vampire (played by a dignified John Carradine) and unleashing him on an unsuspecting town. In the second half, the not-so-good doctor investigates the ruins of Castle Frankenstein (left from the cataclysmic conclusion of Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman) and finds the frozen bodies of the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney) and the Monster (Glenn Strange, picking up creature-feature tips from former flathead Karloff, no doubt). He proceeds to revive them, with the expected results: murder, mayhem, and a bad end for all. The

He proceeds to revive them, with the expected results: murder, mayhem, and a bad end for all. The screenplay has a slapdash quality about it, notably the Dracula sequences which dismiss Universal’s most dignified monster with almost no fanfare, and Erle C. Kenton’s direction only rises above perfunctory for the conclusion, a mad monster brawl with some arresting moments. But while it’s hardly the best of the Universal horrors, the high monster quotient makes it a fun if undercooked entry in the genre. –Sean Axmaker


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