Universal Classic Horror Movie #5 – House of Frankenstein
My Universal classic horror movie viewing has resumed with House of Frankenstein. Running with the idea that if one monster is good, more will be better, the studio pulled out all the stops on this one and put together a movie packed with their classic monsters. The only glaring absence is the Mummy. The others are all here: Frankenstein’s monster (to be expected since it’s his house), the Wolfman, Dracula, a hunchback and a mad scientist. What more could anyone ask for, right? Well . . . perhaps a more cohesive film? This one plays out like two back-to-back episodes of a weekly road trip series. If it had been made a few decades later, it would have made a great pilot for a series about two monster pals travelling from town to town and encountering various colourful characters while attempting to fulfill their own dreams (a bit like the 1970’s Incredible Hulk). Well . . . sort of. This story opens with a mad scientist (the brother of Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant) and a hunchback sharing nearby jail cells and bonding. If only the scientist could locate Dr. Frankenstein’s research materials, he could build his hunchback jail-mate a new fabulous body. Conveniently, at that moment, lightning strikes, destroying the prison and freeing the two to begin their quest. Assuming the identity of a travelling freak show, they inadvertently resurrect Dracula and turn him loose on a small European village.
To their credit, however, they also contribute to his capture before heading off on their next adventure. On the way to Frankenstein’s house they stop to rescue a young gypsy woman (who assumes the role of screaming, fainting female character so vital to these classic horror films) with whom the hunchback falls madly in love and thus drives the remainder of the story. When they reach their destination, they find Frankenstein’s house was of course destroyed when an angry mob blew up the nearby dam, trapping the Wolfman and the monster under the rubble. (I hadn’t planned to watch this film immediately after Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, but it actually works well as a sequel to that movie – good to see that all traces of continuity haven’t been abandoned) This setback does not deter our intrepid heroes, however, and they are able to revive the two, leading the mad scientist to make some minor alterations to his original plans (mad scientists are notoriously fickle) and costing him the hunchback’s loyalty.
In the end, most of the characters get either what they want or what they deserve and the story ends . . . well, maybe not happily, but it definitely ends for everyone.