Friday, November 29, 2013

House of Dracula (1945)

Dracula (John Carradine) needs help. He hates the life of the undead superhero, so he seeks out the good Doctor Edelmann. Surely he can solve the problem. Drac gets all mysterious what with him needing to only come only at night. Under the microscope, Dr. Edelmann discovers that Drac's blood contains a large number of midi-chlorians ...

Also seeking free help is Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr), hating his proto-wolverine existence. Doc concludes Chaney's head ... that is, Talbot's head ... isn't soft enough. Meanwhile, Drac starts making moves on Doc's lovely-ish assistant, wolfie jumps a cliff trying to end his life, and they then stumble upon Frankenstein's Monster sitting in the muck. And it's about then that I realized that this series has finally run it's course.

The problem of crowding the film with monsters is two-fold. First, you lose focus on a central story. Are we following Drac's plight or Wolfie's? Secondly, screen time for each is drastically cut. Frank's Monster is barely in it and Drac makes an earlier than expected exit. Maybe it would have worked better if you made the monsters the direct protagonists rather than spiral the story around the doctor and his assistants. Still, make the climax a duel between wolfie and Drac, and lose the Monster instead of using him as a Deus ex machina of sorts. Better movies don't have you re-writing them in your head while watching.

Code standards has that monsters must die at the end of the film. As such, there has to be a vaguely plausible explanation why the actors were getting work again. We completely forgo this in Wolfie and Drac's case. Lionel Atwill, at death's door, makes one last appearance. As a cop, once again. And no Universal Horror can be considered complete without a hunchback assistant. Here is the only unexpected twist the film offers: the hunchback is a hot chick. Seriously. And the mad scientist character is ... well, I'll hold off on that.

Here we rest the original run of the Universal Horror series. Typical in acting and production quality of the series. My biggest mistake was grouping the movies by central character. I should have watched them in sequence instead. If I watch them again, that's what I will do. So, how come they never invited the Mummy to the party? I'll finish them off next October. AMRU 3.

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