When I was eight my brothers and I were allowed to stay up and watch late night horror movies on Friday night on my grandparent’s black and white television. At that age it was difficult to stay awake but once the movie started we watched with eyes pasted open. The station played the classic movies from the thirties: The Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstein, but the real gems, for us, were the movies featuring all three. I stumbled on a DVD at the local library with seven films from the era including House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula. Oh man.
I was a little concerned. The last movie I watched from back then was the original War of the Worlds and rather than renewing that sense of “awe,” the movie’s sexism was so overt it was embarrassing. When I say sexism I am talking about women being portrayed as helpless females. Fainting at the drop of a hat. A woman with a masters degree in science relegated to pouring coffee for macho army Generals. If anyone is looking for a doctorate paper they might want to study the original film as an example of mass stereotyping by Hollywood. That movie was made in the fifties, these go back to the thirties and I am hoping that was a more enlightened era.
Cold beer and two movies – here’s my review:
House of Frankenstein: There’s no easy way to say this. No monsters fought. Wolfman, Dracula, and Frankenstein’s monster never even really meet. It was three separate monster stories held together by a cast of unremarkable characters. Okay acting but a wandering script. And suddenly it ended. Just like that. The scientist and Frankenstein’s monster gurgle down in a mud pit. In fairness, the music kind of sounded like a finale. But what way is that to get rid of a monster? There was nothing poetic about it.
House of Dracula: Right off you can see the strings holding up a stuffed vampire bat. That how the movie starts. Ouch. Dracula wants the mad scientist to cure him, coincidentally the Wolfman does too. Nice cameo of Frankenstein where I believe they took film from the original movie and cut it in. The monster is later found in a slew of mud related to the mud pit in the last film. The mad scientist thinks it’s good idea to reanimate him except the hunchback woman talks him down. She can act, the only stellar performance in the movie. I don’t remember how it ended.
I see Rotten Tomatoes give the edge to House of Frankenstein. I don’t know. I’d call it a toss up.