Lights Out at Monster Housing
A Happy Ending Universal Took Away: House Of Dracula (1945)
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is beloved, sacred, in fact, among those of a certain birth order. To criticize might be profane, but I still resent the 1948 send-up for its casual re-infliction of Larry Talbot with the curse of lycanthropy. He'd been cured at House Of Dracula's conclusion, giving the Wolf Man saga an upbeat finish, Talbot deserving of release from his five-year scourge. Putting him back in unholy bondage was plain dirty pool so far as I was twelve-year-old concerned, and time passing won't forgive. Again, here was me taking monsters too seriously, but wait, the Talbot character as enacted by Chaney was sincere and in fact deeply felt, the actor's own proudest achievement. Shouldn't we, or Abbott and Costello, be as reverent? I'd have liked A&C Meet Frankenstein better had a recovered Larry come to assist of Chick and Wilbur in disposing of Dracula and the F monster, his past experience coping with each valuable toward vanquish of the pair. Do you suppose Chaney mentioned the continuity goof when approached to do his Wolf Man yet again, or did money button his lip?
There was, in fact, a Castle home movie reel called The Wolfman's Cure, released late in the 8-16mm cycle (1976), according to Castle Films: A Hobbyist's Guide, by Scott MacGillivray. Those eight minutes, indeed House Of Dracula in toto, argue that redemption of monsters is doable, provided rehab is overseen by professionals not over-awed by creatures coming to them for aid.
|A 50's Bring-Back for HoD w/Fiend Accompany|
There is a weekly program on one of the sub-channels hosted by "Svengoolie," a 50/60's spook guide resurrected for those who deposit at memory banks. Watching him, especially a House Of Dracula with him, is close as digital comes to way- backing. Miss commercials with late night monsters? Svengoolie has them. He will at the least remind us of what seeing these things used to be. Universal's menagerie has never disappeared from TV. Some outlet is always using them. I wonder why TCM hasn't scooped the lot (of apx. 75 titles, from 30's creakers to 50's weirdies), a concentrate to pour upon viewers predisposed to nostalgia. One thing I learned from exhibiting to college crowds --- they really respected the classic monsters. If there was laughter, it was affectionate. Karloff-Lugosi personas stay potent, it seems (word-of-mouth from parents, or their parents?).
Why House Of Dracula today? --- because there's a Region Two Blu-ray recently out. It's maybe not great, a little variable from part to part, but it will do, and a big improvement on what's US-available (still just a standard DVD). Following is unrelated to that, but I'll tell it: collector and dean of fans Richard Bojarski told me once that original horror stills were rare in NY shops even in the early 50's when he got started. Dick had a file cabinet full of treasure. Some of his trove saw print in