A mansion house in Europe, and although its inhabitants are asleep, there is something wide awake outside: a large bat, which flies up to one upstairs window and transforms into figure dressed in cape and top hat, staring at the slumbering woman within. He is Count Dracula himself (John Carradine) and he makes his way down to a ground floor window where he spies Dr Edelman (Onslow Stevens), dozing in his chair with his cat by his side. The vampire enters and wakens him, asking to be taken down to the cellar, so a baffled Edelman agrees, ready to listen to the Count's proposition...
House of Dracula was effectively the final entry in the Universal classic monsters cycle, until they all met Bud Abbott and Lou Costello at any rate, but sadly it was the least of them, patently working with a low budget and failing to find much that was satisfying to do with its cast. Scripted by Edward T. Lowe, as the previous House of Frankenstein had been, it adopted the new outlook of the benefits of science - or their drawbacks - to inform its plotting, looking forward to the science fiction movies that would become hugely popular in the next decade.
Dracula is the first of the monsters to arrive, and the theme of cures arose when he asks Dr Edelman to find out the reason for his vampirism and, he hopes, lift the burden from his shoulders so he may return to human form. This is all very well, but not twenty minutes later he is back to his old ways when he spies one of the nurses, Miliza (Martha O'Driscoll), and likes what he sees, planning to turn her into one of his bloodsucking brides, so you wonder about the levels of his conviction to be cured. To complicate matters, Lawrence Talbot, aka the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr sporting a moustache), has shown up as well.
And that is because he wants to be cured too, which is at least more believable. Dr Edelman is convinced his lycanthropy is all in his mind, or he does until he watches Talbot transform into his hairy alter ego while locked up in the local jail cell. So the scientist has a lot on his plate, and even more when a despairing Talbot attempts suicide by leaping off a nearby cliff into the sea. After Edelman ventures down to see if he is all right, he finds a cave which contains the Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange), so now he can revive that as well.
If your favourite of the Universal monster gallery happens to be the Frankenstein Monster, then you will be especially let down by this film, because he spends most of his time inert until a few jolts of electricity bring him back for about five seconds, whereupon stock footage from Ghost of Frankenstein is implemented for the finale. Dracula is more fun, with Carradine having more to do but absent for the final act, and The Wolf Man gets the peace he wanted after all these years, but what of a mad scientist? That turns out to be Edelman after an unfortunate incident with a blood transfusion, and Stevens is amusing enough fighting between the two sides of his personality in a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde kind of way. Yet for all that, this is a real hodgepodge that needed fresh ideas - which would turn out to be a dose of comedy.
American director who made over 100 films in a 50 year career. Worked as a bit-part actor before making his feature debut in 1919, and was best known for directing comedies, including two of Abbott & Costello’s best films – Pardon My Sarong and Who Done It?. Kenton also proved adept in the horror genre, directing the 1933 classic Island of Lost Souls, with Charles Laughton, as well as House of Dracula, Ghost of Frankenstein and The Cat Creeps. Died from Parkinson's disease in 1980.