Frankenstein's monster! The wolf man! Dracula! Sounds exciting, doesn't it? Truth be told, House of Dracula isn't exciting per se, but it's not too shabby either. Count Dracula (as portrayed by an out-of-place John Carradine) goes to a doctor and implores him to find a cure for vampirism. Lawrence Talbot simultaneously goes to the doctor and implores him to find a cure for lycanthropy. Obviously, someone changes their mind. Dracula decides that he would rather seduce a blond nurse and escort her over to "the dark side." I can't blame him. There is also a hunchback nurse. She's the cutest hunchback I've ever seen. She's actually an endearing character, which gives the script a fair amount of dynamics.
Chaney is believable as Talbot. I couldn't buy Carradine's Dracula. He doesn't look, act or feel like the genuine article. Maybe it was the pencil-thin mustache. Don't get me wrong; he is smooth and tractile in the role. The man is a genre legend for a reason, and not just because he starred in a million horror films. I just couldn't cozy up to his Count. The B&W cinematography is simply beautiful. For a low-budget sequel, the production values are fantastic. The plot is fun to follow and the Gothic set pieces contribute to the dreary atmosphere. I must say, I didn't care for Chaney's werewolf make-up effects. After watching The Return of the Vampire, whose werewolf is one mean-looking dude, Talbot's alter ego comes off as a clump of cheap fur.
House of Dracula bends over backwards to weave the Frankenstein mythos into its fabric, but the whole subplot feels like an afterthought. An afterthought that has its heart in the right place, but an afterthought all the same. Dr. Frankenstein's creation only shows up for one scene, unless you count the scenes where he is strapped to a table. It's a wasted opportunity. This flick isn't the battle royale that it sells itself to be, but it's harmless entertainment. If you're in the mood for an old-fashioned creature feature, you could do a lot worse.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 6:13 PM