The House of Frankenstein

One of my all-time favorite movies is The House of Frankenstein, released in 1944. It was the fifth of a series of movies about Frankenstein's monster and friends. The first was released in the 1930s. It was loosely based (and I mean loosely, they didn't even get the scientist's first name right) on Mary Shelley's novel. The Bride of Frankenstein was a direct sequel. It started where the first movie left off and described the events that occurred when the monster wants a bride. It deviates even more from the novel. In the third movie, Son of Frankenstein, Frankenstein's son returns to the castle to take over. The son is English. No explanation is given as to why he was raised in Britain. In Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, the wolfman searches for Frankenstein's notes in order to cure himself of werewolfism. Finally in House of Frankenstein, everybody's favorite monsters of that time, the monster, a mad doctor, a hunchback and Dracula, are all together for the first time. The final movie in the series was House of Dracula, whose plot was similar to Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, only it is Dracula who wants to be cured of vampirism. All of these movies are worth seeing and entertaining. The reason I liked House of Frankenstein best was the acting and the subplots. Note: if you intend to watch the movie, the next three paragraphs contain spoilers.

The film focuses on the exploits of the vengeful Dr. Gustav Niemann, who escapes from prison with his cellmate, the hunchback Daniel, to which he promises to create a new, beautiful body. The two murder a traveling showman and take over his horror exhibit. To exact revenge on Hussmann, who had once caused his imprisonment, Niemann revives Count Dracula. Dracula seduces Hussmann's granddaughter-in-law and kills Hussmann himself, but in a subsequent chase, Niemann disposes of Dracula's coffin, causing the vampire to perish in sunlight. Niemann and Daniel move on to the flooded ruins of Castle Frankenstein, where they find the bodies of the Frankenstein Monster and Lawrence Talbot, the Wolfman, preserved in the frozen waters. Nieman thaws out the two and promises Talbot to cure him from werewolfism. However, in fact he is more interested in reviving the Frankenstein monster and exacting revenge on two former associates than in his promises to Daniel or Talbot. Talbot transforms into a werewolf and kills a man, arousing the villagers. Talbot is also envied by the hunchback Daniel as both love Ilonka, a gypsy girl. She has fallen in love with Talbot but is the object of Daniel's affection. Daniel reveals Talbot's curse to Ilonka but she is not deterred and promises to help him in fighting the curse.

Things enter a critical stage at night, as Niemann revives the Frankenstein monster and Talbot again turns into a werewolf. Talbot is shot by Ilonka with a silver bullet, thereby releasing him, but Ilonka is killed in the process. Daniel blames her death on Niemann and begins to choke him. The Frankenstein monster intervenes, throws Daniel out of the window, and carries the half-conscious Niemann outside, where the villagers begin to chase them and drive them into the marshes. There, both the monster and Niemann drown in quicksand. The movie had a superb cast as follows: Boris Karloff as Dr. Gustav Niemann, Lon Chaney, Jr. as Lawrence Talbot/The Wolfman, J. Carrol Naish as Daniel, Elena Verdugo as Ilonka, John Carradine as Dracula a. k. a. Baron Latos, Glenn Strange as the Monster, Anne Gwynne as Rita Hussman. J. Carrol Naish's performance is especially good as the lovesick hunchback in love with a gypsy girl, also well played by Elena Verdugo. Karloff and Carradine are also superb. And of course, Lon Chaney, as always, plays the werewolf with sympathy and pathos. Excellent acting by everyone in the cast. They deserved, but never received, Oscars. In fact the movie was panned by most critics. That's why I never listen to critics.