Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN


HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944). Director: Erle C. Kenton.

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man teamed the two title characters. This sequel (sixth in the Frankenstein series and third in the Wolf Man series) brings those two back and throws Dracula into the mix. Boris Karloff plays not the monster, but mad scientist Dr. Niemann, who escapes from jail with his hunchback servant, Daniel (J. Carroll Naish), eager to get revenge on the men who spoke out against him at his trial. Along the way the twosome encounter Lampini (George Zucco), a traveling showman who has acquired the bones of Dracula (John Carradine). In a relatively brief episode, Niemann inadvertently brings Dracula back to life (the vampire never meets the monster or the Wolf Man). Although the climax to Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man took place in Visaria, the locale for that is conveniently switched to the village of Frankenstein, where Niemann and Daniel uncover Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney) and the monster. A romantic triangle develops between Daniel, Talbot and Ilonka, (Elena Verdugo), a cute little gypsy girl. Although Niemann hopes to revivify the monster, cure Talbot of his curse, and even give Daniel a hunky new body, the best laid plans ... The monster (Glenn Strange) doesn't really come to life until the final moments of the film. Nevertheless this is a fast-paced, dramatic, well-directed, generally well-acted, and highly entertaining monster fest. Karloff is fine, Chaney uneven, Carradine okay (if nothing special), but Naish pretty much steals the picture with his half evil/half pathetic portrait of Daniel. Ever-reliable Lionel Atwill is again on hand as Arnz. Followed by House of Dracula.

Verdict: Hang on for a fun ride! ***.

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