House of Dracula (Blu-ray) (1945)
|Year Of Production||1945|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Erle C. Kenton|
Universal Pictures Home Video
Lon Chaney Jr
|RPI||?||Music||Hans J Salter|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
†††† As The House of Dracula opens Baron Latos / Count Dracula (John Carradine) arrives at the castle where scientist Dr Edlemann (Onslow Stevens) is conducting his experiments aided by his humpbacked assistant Nina (Jane Adams). Ostensibly Dracula is seeking a cure for his curse of vampirism / immortality; Edlemann accepts the challenge, believing that blood transfusions may help, unaware that the real reason for Draculaís arrival is because Dracula wants to possess Edlemannís attractive assistant Miliza Morelle (Martha OíDriscoll). Shortly afterwards Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr) also arrives at the castle, also seeking a cure, or at least a way to die, from his curse of lycanthropy.
†††† With the full moon due, Talbot turns himself in to the local police to avoid killing anyone; Dr Edlemenn and the local police are at first sceptical that Larry can turn into a werewolf but when the transformation takes place before their eyes, Edlemann agrees to try to cure Larry. The next night Larry, in distress and afraid of what he might do, throws himself off a cliff into the sea. Edlemann, believing that Larry may have been washed into one of the caves at the bottom of the cliff, has himself lowered down the cliff face and indeed finds Larry. But the discoveries do not end there; in the cave they find, encased in mud, the skeleton of Dr Niemann (from The House of Frankenstein) and Frankensteinís Monster , which is comatose but still alive and is taken to the basement of Edlemannís castle.
†††† Then things happen all at once. Dracula makes a play on Miliza, the blood transfusions between Dracula and Dr Edlemann start to turn Edlemann into a vampire, and a crazed scientist. Edlemann performs an operation which may cure Talbot, but also tries to revive the Monster. With the village mob at the castle gates, baying for blood, monsters fight and it all comes to a fiery end.
†††† The trailer for House of Frankenstein promised five monsters, Dracula, The Wolf Man, Frankensteinís Monster, the Mad Doctor and the Hunchback, and the trailer for House of Dracula, made the year after with the same screenwriter, Edward T. Lowe, and same director , Erle C. Kenton, also promised Dracula, The Wolf Man, Frankensteinís Monster, the Mad Doctor and the Hunchback. However, while Lon Chaney Jr, John Carradine and Glenn Strange return as The Wolf Man / Larry Talbot, Dracula and Frankensteinís Monster respectively, Boris Karloffís mad doctor Niemann has been replaced by mad doctor Edlemann (Onslow Stevens) and the murderous Hunchback (J. Carrol Naish) is now a rather pleasant, and not at all monstrous, woman hunchback played by Jane Adams so the advertising seems somewhat disingenuous. In the plus column, however, is that John Carradine has far more screen time this time round, as does Lon Chaney Jr, although the Monster again still has little to do and no dialogue; instead poor Glenn Strange was encased in hours in cold liquid mud, and the story is that Lon Chaney Jr passed him a bottle of whiskey between takes to keep warm! Indeed, in House of Dracula The Wolf Man is a hero, not a monster, and ends up cured, a happy result amid all the mayhem at the climax of the film.
†††† House of Dracula takes place some years after the events of House of Frankenstein, with some of the same characters but continuity is not high on the list of priorities. At the climax of House of Frankenstein Dr Niemann and the Monster are swallowed by quicksand and disappear; in House of Dracula Dr Edlemann finds the skeleton of Dr Niemann and the body of the Monster encased in mud, which does explain how the Monster is still around, but both Dracula and The Wolf Man died in House of Frankenstein, one by exposure to sunlight, the other by being shot with a silver bullet, but both just turn up in House of Dracula without comment or explanation. Indeed, House of Dracula is even more of a mixed bag than House of Frankenstein, with some plotting which makes little sense, contrivances and characters who have very little to do.
†††† House of Dracula is the fourth film in which Lon Chaney Jr plays the Larry Talbot / The Wolf Man character. This time he has more to do than in House of Frankenstein and does it well while John Carradine is a decent Dracula. However, by now the monster mishmash was wearing a bit thin and Onslow Stevens lacks the charisma of Boris Karloffís mad doctor. Still worth a look for fans, however.
†††† House of Dracula is presented in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.
†††† It this film really 70 years old? House of Dracula looks fabulous with strong, clear detail except in a couple of external sequences such as where Talbot throws himself over the cliff. There is light grain in some sequences but otherwise this is a clean print without obvious marks or artefacts. Blacks, greyscale and shadow detail are very good.
†††† English for the hearing impaired, Spanish and French subtitles are available.
†††† The only audio is English DTS-HD MA 2.0 (mono).
†††† Dialogue was always easy to understand. The effects, such as the hostile crowd, the electrical crackles and buzz or the surf are crisp and provide a good audio experience for a mono track. There is obviously no surround or subwoofer use. The excellent score is score by Hans J Salter.
†††† I did not notice any hiss or distortion.
†††† Lip synchronisation was fine.
|Surround Channel Use|
†††† On start-up you are required first to select Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man , House of Frankenstein or House of Dracula to watch. The selected film commences without a further menu, but you can use the pop-up menu via the remote to select pause, chapters, subtitles and the filmís unrestored trailer.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
†††† This Blu-ray release of House of Dracula starts with the US FBI antipiracy warning. There is not a listing for an individual Blu-ray of the film but it is included in The Wolf Man: Complete Legacy Collection (see the summary below) which is available locally and in other regions. Buy local.
†††† But the time of House of Dracula the formula was wearing a bit thin and, other than Lon Chaney Jr and John Carradine, the cast list was not as strong as the earlier Wolf Man films. Nevertheless, House of Dracula is worth watching for Chaney and Carradine and the film is still a lot of fun.
†††† The film looks good on Blu-ray, the audio is the original mono. A trailer is the only extra, although you get three Wolf Man films on the same Blu-ray.
†††† House of Dracula is included in Universalís 4 Blu-ray The Wolf Man: Complete Legacy Collection which has Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula on one Blu-ray, Werewolf of London (1935) and She-Wolf of London (1946) on another and The Wolf Man (1941) and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) by themselves on a Blu-ray, a collection that is great value for fans of Universal horror.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|