Tonight on MeTV- the “FrankenFest” continues with the biggest "monster rally" movie of all- as the Monster is back, along with Dracula, the Wolf Man, a hunchback- and even Boris Karloff-giving us a chilling winning hand, with the full house known as 1944's "House of Frankenstein"!
If you track the chronology of the films in the Universal Frankenstein series, this one definitely follows “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man” in sequence- starting out on a stormy night, at the prison where Dr. Neimann, a twisted scientist, has been imprisoned for his unspeakable experiments that authorities have labelled as crimes against nature! While Neimann lectures his cellmate, the hunchbacked Daniel, on his theories and experiments, the powerful storm itself provides an escape for them! Struggling from the prison to the muddy road in the midst of a driving rain, they encounter a stalled wagon, actually a traveling "house of horrors". The dastardly duo helps the proprietor get back on the road-but they are not Good Samaritans, as they help themselves to his wagon- and even his identity! Neimann reasons that his disguise as the showman will keep them incognito as they travel on their quest to discover Dr. Frankenstein's lost secrets of creating life- an obsession of the criminal scientist, with Daniel along as accomplice, in hopes that the doctor will operate on his misshapen back, and make him look like a normal man.
To keep up their cover, the duo puts the wagon's attractions on display at a small village's fair, where one local authority thinks he’s familiar with this showman- but can’t quite place who he is. Angered by this suspicion, Neimann unwittingly removes a stake from the remains of Count Dracula- reviving the vampire! He makes a deal with the count, offering him protection if he helps him take revenge. The count, however, soon goes off on his own fiendish agenda, including murder and enlisting a lovely young bride to the ranks of the undead!
Continuing his mission, Neimann’s travels bring him closer to his main objective- the ruins of Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory- but a stop at a nearby gypsy camp adds one more passenger to their wagon- a pretty young gypsy girl whom Daniel rescues from misfortune !The gypsy immediately captures his heart, in spite of the possibility that his deformity may keep her from returning his affection,unless Niemann can change his plight! They continue to the ruins of the Frankenstein castle - and stumble upon frozen underground catacombs- where they find the frozen bodies of the Wolf Man and the Frankenstein Monster (a result of the water flooding the castle at the end of “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man”)! They thaw the Wolf Man out- and he reverts to his human form of Larry Talbot - but the Monster, still in a weakened state, must receive some treatment soon if he is to be restored to full consciousness and power. They take him to Neimann's own abandoned laboratory- but, along the way, Daniel is dismayed and angered to find that the gypsy girl he desires now finds Talbot attractive! The mad doctor sets to work – with a plan to heal the Monster, and take revenge on the locals who sent him up the river. Jealousy isn't the only reason Daniel and Talbot are at odds- both want to be brain donors for the Monster, which would eliminate the problem of whoever the donor is, be it the curse of the full moon or deformity. Neimann's promises to both men go by the wayside as he works towards what HE wants- to restore the Monster to full power and have it at his command! Meanwhile, the suspicious villagers realize something sinister is going on at Neimann's old place... setting the stage for another battle between legendary monsters!
This film was the original “monster mash-up” film, bringing together so many of Universal's " big three" monsters (the Mummy would also have been a part of the roster, but that didn’t pan out). For the first time, John Carradine takes on the role of Count Dracula (a role he would again take on in the next "monster rally" film, "House of Dracula”), and big Glenn Strange makes his first appearance as the Frankenstein Monster. Topped off with the only man to ever play Larry Talbot in the classic era of Universal monster films, Lon Chaney Jr- it’s an all “MONstar” cast- topped off by the addition of the King of horror, Karloff! We'll fill you in on the whole cast- bring you a song and a visit to one of our frequent haunts-and present another chat with a real expert on Universal monsters (as well as being a hilarious comedian)- the one and only Gilbert Gottfried!
The “House of Frankenstein” opens its doors to you tonight on MeTV at 8 pm eastern/pacific, 7 pm central, or check listings in your area ( or at www.metv.com) for when and where you can see us. MeTV invites you join the legion of fans who live-Tweet along with the movie on Twitter during the show- just be sure to use the hashtag #svengoolie. In the Chicago viewing area, it's a Saturday morning encore of “Son of Frankenstein" at 11 am on CW 26.
Make sure you join us next Saturday through Sunday, Halloween, on MeTV for the special “Scream with Me” programming- featuring scary episodes of many of your favorite shows!
But tonight - join us for the ultimate pre-Halloween house party-on MeTV!