ThrillVille Report, Part II

For the first part of this report, click here.

When I arrived at the Cerrito a little before 7:00 on Thursday night, I was handed a pair of cheap, cardboard,3D glasses–the red-and-blue kind. Yes, part of the program was in 3D. Not a big part, but a short called “Third Dimensional Murder” made in 1941–more than a decade before the 3D craze of the 1950s. Let’s just say it was a dreadful movie in dreadful 3D.

The features, as I mentioned in my last post, were House of Frankenstein (1944) and The Brides of Dracula (1960). These cheapies have two things in common. First, bad as they are, they came from studios with great horror film reputations. Second, Dr. Frankenstein never appears in House of Frankenstein, and Count Dracula doesn’t show up in Brides of Dracula. Curiously, Dracula makes an appearance in House of Frankenstein.

Made at Universal at the tail end of its great run of horror classics, House of Frankenstein is pretty much a mess. Frankenstein’s monster makes a brief appearance even if the good doctor never shows up, this time played by Glenn Strange. As I mentioned, Dracula also turns up, not Bela Lugosi but John Carradine. The wolfman also joins the festivities, astonishingly enough, still played by the original, Lon Chaney Jr. The original Frankenstein Monster, Boris Karloff, stars as yet another mad scientist. There’s a hunchback sidekick (who you actually feel a bit sorry for), a beautiful gypsy girl, and peasants with torches.

The Brides of Dracula was Hammer’s sequel to its highly successful Dracula (called Curse of Dracula in the United States), and it involves Van Helsing’s adventures after killing the Count in the title. You see, another aristocrat/vampire is stalking Transylvania, sucking the blood of the working class. But I’m not sure who these brides of the title are supposed to be? This vampire does turn two moderately attractive young women into vampires, so I guess those could be Brides of Baron Meinster if not Count Dracula. But they don’t enter into the story much. He also becomes engaged to the movie’s heroine. That makes her The Future Bride of the Vampire Who isn’t Dacula. Actually, it makes her The Extremely Forgetful Future Bride of the Vampire Who isn’t Dacula, since by the time he proposes and she accepts, she has discovered and apparently forgotten about Meinster’s evil ways. Our fun-loving Baron also turns his own mother into a vampire, which just seems sick.

Bad as these movies are, they’re both thoroughly enjoyable, especially in a crowded theater of people primed to laugh. And both movies were screened in pristine, archival, 35mm prints. If only the classics were so well cared for.