Serial Thriller: House of Frankenstein

Autumn has fallen and it’s time once more to celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear. Rainestorm finishes its horror trilogy and goes to the well one last time to highlight 31 days of spooky scares that season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween. In this week’s Serial Thriller, we focus on the classic Universal Frankenstein series.

'House of Frankenstein'

Hex cast: 1944

“Then Madge told me I was soaking in Palmolive dishwashing liquid…”

The charm: A bizarre revenge tale mixed with elements of horror tragedy. Universal went all out to bill this as an extreme monster mash-up, deliberately creating the archetypes that have become so familiar, reaching as far back as The Hunchback of Notre Dame to label the simpering Daniel (J. Carrol Naish) as the Quasimodo-ish assistant. Boris Karloff returns to the series as “mad scientist” Dr. Neimann, while Glenn Strange takes over as the Frankenstein monster. It’s clear the filmmakers have run out of ideas on how to bring back Dracula (John Carradine), however, as simply removing the wooden stake from his skeleton seems sufficient to revive him. By this time, Bela Lugosi was done with the series and his absence is a shame. Lon Chaney, Jr. gamely returns as the wolf man, Lawrence Talbot, continuing his vain quest for a cure to his canine curse.

Focal point: Jealous assistant Daniel mucks everything up by going all Indiana Jones on the monster with a whip.

Entrancing trivia: Originally Kharis the mummy, another Universal “classic monster”, was to be in the movie but was removed because of budget restrictions.

Speak the words: “I’ve killed four men for you!”

Companion spell: House of Dracula (1945). More monster mash mayhem, with Chaney the only big name returning to recreate his classic character.

The curse: Naish is creepy in a way I don’t think was intended.