Review of “House of Dracula” (1945)

trailer from YouTube

This is this Saturday night’s pizza and bad movie offering. We’d seen this before but barely remembered it. Many things—and actors appeared in other movies.

Plot:

It’s not Dracula’s house. It’s the seaside castle-like estate of one saintly Dr. Franz Edelman (Onslow Stevens) outside the (fictional) village of Visaria. One night a large bat flies outside the windows of Dr. Edelman’s home. Outside the bedroom of the sleeping Nurse Miliza Morelle (Martha O’Driscoll), the bat takes the shape of a man in formal wear and a top hat: Count Dracula (John Carradine). He stands gazing at her, peeping tom-style.

He walks down an external staircase and enters a sitting room through an unlocked door. (It may be a castle, but they do need better security). Dracula startles and chases off a cat, waking a dozing Dr. Edelman (Onslow Stevens).

Edelman, rightly so, asks who the intruder is. It’s five o’clock in the morning.

Dracula introduces himself as “Baron Latos.” (Moving up in the world, are we?) and apologizes for appearing like this. He’s come to the doctor for help. He doesn’t want to be a vampire anymore.

In a later scene, while Edelman is giving Dracula a transfusion, Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr) comes in. It’s nearly a full moon. He wants the doctor’s help. He doesn’t want to be a werewolf anymore.

Thoughts:

This old movie was so full of melodrama, improbability, and silly dialogue that it was fun. The altruistic doctor is growing a particular type of mold (…like penicillin, still something of a novelty at the time?) that would help soften bones and maybe facilitate surgery on deformities like the hunchback his nurse Nina (Jane Adams) suffers from? It may also be helpful for werewolves, but it will take a while.

When Talbot leaps off a cliff into the sea in despair, Edelman has himself lowered over the side at low tide to see whether he may have been washed into one of the many caves. Not only does he find Talbot—in his hairy form and without a scratch on him—in the cave, but he also finds something else that will trigger his scientific curiosity. At first, he resists temptation, but what’s a monster movie without a mad scientist?

Visaria, the nearby village, was also home to the experiments of the infamous Dr. Neimann, who brought the Frankenstein monster back to life. Visaria could be in Switzerland, Austria, or Germany—someplace where guys wear lederhosen and drink beer out of steins and women wear braids and dirndls. Johann Q. Public is sick and tired of the Frankenstein monster killing people and trashing their town.

One of the strong points of this movie is the cinematography. The use of light and shadow is artfully—but not always subtly—done. The camera also uses flowers and barred windows to hint at prison. It was a visual treat.

I enjoyed this movie. With his baritone voice and height, John Carradine makes a creepy, menacing vampire. Even if his thin frame doesn’t telegraph an ability to beat an enemy into the ground, his scowl will make anyone think twice. Just don’t step into the sunlight, there, Baron, er, Count.

I realize not everyone will enjoy this. It is over the top, but it was also fun.

This can be watched here.

Title: House of Dracula (1945)

Directed by
Erle C. Kenton

Writing Credits

Edward T. Lowe Jr….(original screenplay) (as Edward T. Lowe)
Dwight V. Babcock…(story) (uncredited)
George Bricker…(story) (uncredited)

Cast (in credits order)
Lon Chaney Jr…Lawrence Talbot / The Wolf Man (as Lon Chaney)
John Carradine…Dracula / Baron Latos
Martha O’Driscoll…Miliza Morelle
Lionel Atwill…Police Inspector Holtz
Onslow Stevens…Dr. Franz Edlemann

Released: 1945
Length: 1 hour, seven minutes

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: