Archive for glenn strange

The Chaney Blogathon: HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, movies, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2013 by goregirl

House of Frankenstein reviewed for The Last Drive In & Movies Silently as part of The Chaney Blogathon.


Erle C. Kenton directed one of my all time favourite horror films; Island of Lost Souls (1932). Island of Lost Souls is not the only horror gem Mr. Kenton directed that is near to my heart. Kenton directed three films in the Universal monster franchise; Ghost of Frankenstein, House of Dracula and today’s subject review House of Frankenstein. Clearly Universal studios was milking the commercial and critical success of Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931) and The Wolf Man (1941) with multiple entries featuring the three aforementioned monsters. It was overkill, but that is no reason to write the series off. You would be missing out on plenty of goodness. Some very talented directors and actors were involved in the making of these films. Actors such as Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and of course Lon Chaney Jr. who is the reason I am doing this review. Chaney played Larry Talbot aka the Wolf Man four times. The follow-up to 1941’s The Wolf Man was Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) which I thoroughly enjoyed and reviewed for a werewolf feature I did a while back. House of Frankenstein I suppose could be the sequel to Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man as we do meet Frankenstein and the Wolf Man where we left them; in the ruins of Castle Frankenstein. Dracula makes an appearance in this one and there is a random mad scientist with a hunchback assistant. Continuity is not really a huge concern in these later monster films.

lobbycard for house of frankenstein

No matter though, the more monsters the merrier if you ask me! House of Frankenstein is action packed! Erle C. Kenton wastes no time at all getting into the action. We get a prison escape, a kill, and Dracula in the first 15 minutes. The film’s runtime is only seventy minutes and it just flies by. In seventy minutes our mad scientist and his hunchback assistant meet Dracula, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein and in classic movie fashion ends with a lynch mob. The sets and set pieces are decent enough although there isn’t much that particularly stands out. The cave-like ruins of the Frankenstein place was pretty neat though. The effects are admirable; Dracula’s silhouette on the wall that becomes a bat was well done. Chaney’s Wolf Man makeup looked great and the transformation is well done. Well done except they forgot to put fur on Chaney’s hands! Normally I am not one to notice things like that, but he is looking in the mirror during the transformation and you can really clearly see his hands in a prolonged shot. There was no getting around that oops. House of Frankenstein’s best asset is definitely its performers who are all just perfect. Boris Karloff has long been one of my favourite actors and especially when he is playing the villain. Karloff wears these roles like a finely tailored jacket and they fit him to a tee. John Carradine plays the suave variety of vampire but he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. I enjoyed Carradine as Dracula although his character doesn’t linger long. J. Carrol Naish who plays Daniel, Dr. Niemann’s hunchback assistant is promised a solution to his ailment in exchange for services. Daniel is not a particularly likable character but I nonetheless found him an empathetic one. Glenn Strange who plays Frankenstein’s monster was apparently coached by Karloff who played the monster in the original 1931 version as well as The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Strange plays the large lumbering creature convincingly well and I think he looked superb in the makeup. Strange apparently also did all his own stunts! Last but certainly not least is Mr. Lon Chaney Jr. who plays Lawrence Talbot also known as the Wolf Man. Lawrence Talbot is a tortured character. Talbot is well aware of his crimes and is unable to control his transformations. He knows he should not exist but like all living things he has an instinct for survival. Werewolves represent men’s inner struggle and Chaney’s performance captures this so beautifully. Lon Chaney Jr. is the most sympathetic monster of all time in my opinion. I highly recommend checking out House of Frankenstein; a non-stop, fast-paced multi-monster thrill ride loaded with top-notch performances that looks a little something like this….


A Vehicle in a travelling show called Professor Lampini’s Chamber of Horrors runs into some trouble outside of Neustadt Prison.




A natural disaster creates the perfect escape route for Dr. Gustav Niemann (Boris Karloff) and fellow convict Daniel (J. Carrol Naish).



The unfortunate and unlucky Professor Lampini (George Zucco), gets “a hand” with his stranded vehicle from the conniving doctor and his sidekick. Lampini invites them in to his trailer and boasts about his main exhibit “The Actual Skeleton of Count Dracula the Vampire”. They kill Lampini and take over his show.



Step right up and see the skeletal remains of Count Dracula the Vampire!


Dracula (John Carradine) has been resurrected!



Dracula mesmerizes Rita (Anne Gwynne) who just so happens to be an in-law of Dr. Niemann’s sworn enemy Carl Hussmann.



Dracula transforms into a bat.



Daniel meets a pretty Gypsy Lady named Ilonka (Elena Verdugo) whom he falls in love with.


Dr. Niemann and Daniel explore the ruins of Castle Frankenstein and find the frozen bodies of the Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s creature.


Dr. Niemann thaws the two creatures out and we meet Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr) in his non-Wolf Man form.


Ilonka, Daniel’s gypsy lady takes an instant liking to the handsome Lawrence.


Dr. Niemann makes the promise of a cure for Talbot’s wolfism.


Daniel divulges Lawrence’s secret to Ilonka.


Frankenstein (Glenn Strange) is ready to wake from his long slumber.


Dr. Niemann’s promise is shallow and he has no intention or desire to help Lawrence. Lawrence transforms into a werewolf and kills a local man.


The death of a local man brings unwanted attention from the local police.


Ilonka and Lawrence share a tender moment.


Lawrence gives Dr. Niemann a piece of his mind.


Dr. Niemann is far more interested in his current project; the re-awakening of Frankenstein’s creation!




Lawrence Talbot’s transformation into the Wolf Man.


Dr. Niemann.


What is a monster movie without a lynch mob equipped with torches?

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Erle C. Kenton

Starring: Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Anne Gwynne, Peter Coe, Lionel Atwill, George Zucco, Elena Verdugo, Sig Ruman, William Edmunds, Charles Miller, Philip Van Zandt, Julius Tannen, Hans Herbert, Dick Dickinson, Glenn Strange

Goregirl’s Werewolf Project: THE MAD MONSTER (1942)

Posted in horror, movies, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2012 by goregirl

“The blood of a wolf he placed in the veins of a man… and created a monster such as the world has never known!”

I am officially numb to the ratings on IMDB. All three of the werewolf films I watched this week all received a failing grade on IMDB! Had I been scared off by The Mad Monster’s 3.1 rating, I would have missed out on an entertaining film. The Mad Monster is not nearly as polished as the Universal monster movies of the time, but it is definitely not without its charms.

Dr. Lorenzo Cameron, discredited by his peers has lost his prestigious position at the university. The doctor has lost face in the scientific community due to his experiments mixing animal blood with humans. His goal is to create a super soldier who would kill with animal-like instincts. He secures a rundown house in a small village located in the swamplands. He is accompanied by his daughter Lenora, who is unaware of the nature of her father’s experiments. He continues his work using Petro, a simple handyman as his guinea pig. He shoots Petro with a concoction using wolf’s blood which transforms the unfortunate fellow into a wolf man. He must let the wolf man Petro roam free to conclude the gentle giant will kill without mercy. The experiment is a success as the monster kills a small child who lives nearby. With this incredible achievement he can now satisfy his lust for revenge against the four professors who discredited him.

The film opens in the lab of Dr. Lorenzo Cameron. There is a wolf in a cage and beakers galore and Petro, the doc’s simple handyman is strapped to a table. He is injected with a serum and we see him transform into a wolf man. Dr. Cameron than has a spirited discussion with the four professors who discredited him. Instead of using a flashback the doc is having hallucinations that the men are all gathered in his laboratory. It establishes the back story and the doctor’s lunacy in one nice tight ten minute segment. This is the earliest example I’ve seen of a serum turning a man as opposed to being bitten by another werewolf. In fact, my next review will also feature a serum-inspired werewolf! The transformation isn’t half bad and the makeup looks decent. What does hamper this one a bit is the way the actor moves about when transformed. More accurately, his lack of movement. He really just walks about and doesn’t seem animal-like at all. He is far too pokey for my liking. I also did not like seeing a wolf chained up in that tiny cage for the duration of the film. Petro is a giant of a man with girth, height and strength, an obvious choice for the doc’s experiments. I had a lot of empathy for the Petro character. The doc however has no issues at all taking advantage of the man’s simplicity. Dr. Cameron is about as warm as a cactus, even with his own daughter. It is his daughter and her nosey reporter boyfriend that inevitably complicate his evil plans. That said Dr. Cameron played by George Zucco gives a terrific campy performance. He is a prickly, obsessed bastard given to moments of complete wackiness. The perfect mad scientist! The acting as a rule isn’t bad at all. The movie does show some age in regards to the actual film print. The sound was also a problem at times. I suspect this little cheapie was not well taken care of over the years. There is a decent amount of action and they spread the good stuff out evenly throughout the film. It also has a delightfully rambunctious finale. I enjoyed The Mad Monster; but I think its title better describes the doctor than the film’s werewolf. Recommended!