Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man/House of Frankenstein [DVD]

Frankenstein fans get a double dose of the big guy with the goth wardrobe on one disc in Universal's Frankenstein double feature DVD, which includes Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and House of Frankenstein. The film transfer, in full-frame 1.33:1, is uniform and clear, save for a few short seconds when the film jumps. Universal has done a nice job on the soundtrack for both films, which have been remastered in Dolby Digital 2.0. They're clear and free of pops and scratches. Since these two films are considered "lesser" entries in the Frankenstein series, they don't receive the full Classic Monster Series DVD treatment that Universal has given their top-drawer cousins, such as Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. Thus, this disc does not contain a commentary, historical documentary, or other goodies. The DVD does, however, have production notes, cast and filmmaker biographies, and trailers for both films. With two Frankenstein movies on a single disc, this DVD should appeal to both classic horror aficionados and Frankenstein fans.
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Special Features

  • "Frankenstein Meet the Wolf Man" trailer
  • "House of Frankenstein" trailer
  • Production notes
  • Cast and filmmakers


Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman
The fifth film in Universal's "Frankenstein" series goes for the box-office gold by combining two--count 'em, two!--of the studio's star monsters. We all thought that Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.), alias The Wolf Man, had been shot dead in his own starring film in 1941, but the opening scenes of Frankenstein vs. the Wolf Man prove us incorrect. Brought back to the land of the living, the anguished Talbot commiserates with gypsy lady Maria Ouspenskaya, who advises him that the only way he'll stay dead is to confer with Dr. Frankenstein. The good doctor has passed on, but his equipment is intact. With the help of scientist Patric Knowles and Frankenstein descendant Ilona Massey, Talbot attempts to have the life forces sucked from his body and transferred to that of Frankenstein's monster. The latter character is played by Bela Lugosi, who'd turned the same role down in 1931 because he felt it was beneath his dignity. By 1943, however, Lugosi was in no position to refuse the part of the lumbering monster. The actor was relieved to learn that the monster would have the power of speech, a leftover from 1942's Ghost of Frankenstein; likewise held over from that previous film was the monster's blindness, which would give Lugosi an opportunity to do some swell sightless emoting. But when the preview audience heard the Monster bemoaning his fate in Lugosi's voice, they laughed till they cried. As a result, Universal ordered that all of Lugosi's dialogue be cut. Worse still, the studio also cut all expository dialogue alluding to the monster's blindness, so the film as it stands finds poor Lugosi flailing about with his eyes closed for no apparent reason. At least Lon Chaney Jr. was permitted to portray his Wolfman character without molestation, and this he does very well. So successful was this "monster rally" that Universal rapidly concocted two follow-ups, House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula, both of which added Dracula (John Carradine) to the witches' brew. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

House of Frankenstein
In many ways the most endearing of Universal's B-grade "monster rallies" of the 1940s, House of Frankenstein manages within its 70-minute time span to make room for Frankenstein's monster (Glenn Strange), Dracula (John Carradine) the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr.), and a couple of new recruits, mad scientist Boris Karloff and demented hunchback J. Carroll Naish. Escaping from prison, Karloff vows to continue his diabolical efforts to emulate Dr. Frankenstein's "eternal life" experiments; he also swears vengeance on the three men (Sig Ruman, Frank Reicher and Michael Mark) who were responsible for sending him to prison. With the help of fellow escapee Naish, Karloff murders a travelling-carnival impresario (George Zucco) and assumes his identity. He travels first to the village where Ruman is burgomaster. Since his carnival is a "chamber of horrors", Karloff utilizes one of those horrors--Count Dracula--to settle his account with Ruman. Dracula does so, but dies when the first rays of sunlight stream across his body. En route to the next village, Naish gives shelter to runaway gypsy girl Elena Verdugo, who joins the caravan (though she remains incredibly naive concerning Karloff's intentions!) Coming to the village when the Frankenstein monster and the Wolfman were presumably drowned at the end of Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1944), Karloff revives the latter, who when he's not baying at the moon is the comparatively good-looking Lawrence Talbot. Karloff secures Talbot's cooperation by promising to perform some brain surgery that will relieve him of his lycanthropy. Later on, Karloff kidnaps and kills his other enemies Mark and Reicher, intending to use their brains to cure Talbot and to reactivate the Frankenstein monster. Jealous of Verdugo's attentions towards Talbot, Naish rebels against Karloff, and is killed for his troubles. Talbot turns into the Wolfman, whereupon Verdugo kills him before expiring herself. And Karloff, rendered immobile by the requisite attack of angry villagers, is dragged by the lumbering Monster into a pit of quicksand. Thus House of Frankenstein has something in common with Hamlet: No one is left alive at fade-out time. It's to scenarist Robert Siodmak's credit that he was able to fashion a coherent screenplay out of the crazy-quilt of copyrighted horror characters handed to him by Universal Pictures. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Image coming soon
    Lon Chaney, Jr. - Wolf Man
  • Ilona Massey
    Ilona Massey - Baroness Elsa Frankenstein
  • Patric Knowles
    Patric Knowles - Dr. Mannering
  • Lionel Atwill
    Lionel Atwill - Mayor
  • Bela Lugosi
    Bela Lugosi - Monster

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