Tonight on MeTV- our month of classics continues with the biggest "monster rally" movie of all- a creepy combo platter of Dracula, the Wolf Man, the Frankenstein Monster, a hunchback- and Boris Karloff- occupying 1944's "House of Frankenstein"!
If you try to track the chronology of the films in the Universal Frankenstein series, this one definitely follows “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man”. On a stormy night, we head to a prison where Dr. Neimann, a twisted scientist, has been imprisoned for his unspeakable experiments that the authorities have labelled as crimes against nature! While Neimann lectures his cellmate, the hunchbacked Daniel ,nature itself provides an escape for them!. Making it 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- then, help themselves to his identity and his wagon! 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.
To shore 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. 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- but the count has 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 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 on his own agenda- 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 two 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. With the only man to ever play Larry Talbot in the classic era of Universal monster films, Lon Chaney Jr- it’s an all “mon-star” 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 the original “Wolf Man" at 11 am on WCIU, the U.
Don’t forget that Sven alter ego Rich Koz again joins the Lincoln Park Zoo AAZK chapter for “Bowling for Rhinos” this Tuesday night- find info under our “appearances” tab on this site! You can bowl, bid on special auction items (including an ostrich egg decorated with artwork by Sven himself!), enjoy refreshments, and help protect rhinos in the wild.
But tonight – we have equally fearsome creatures from which even a rhino couldn’t protect you- join us in the house -on MeTV!