Tuesday, April 7, 2015

House of Frankenstein (1944)

House of Frankenstein (1944) was a sequel to Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) and was the second  Universal  multi-monster movie. The film featured Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney, and was written by Curt Siodmak noted for writing such horror classics as The Wolf Man (1941), FrankensteinMeets the Wolf Man (1943) and The Beast with Five Fingers (1946).
The original title for the film was 'The Devil's Brood'. The film was given a $354,000 budget which at that time was relatively generous (by Universal standards) and a 30-day shooting schedule. Originally another Universal classic monster, Kharis the mummy, was to be in the film but was later removed during development due to budget restrictions.

The cast of characters included a mad scientist (Karloff), the Wolf Man (Chaney, Jr.), Dracula (John Carradine), a hunchback (J. Carrol Naish), and Frankenstein's monster (Glenn Strange). Bela Lugosi was considered for the role of Dracula, but the film was dependent upon Boris Karloff being released from the stage tour of Arsenic and Old Lace. Shooting was delayed while Karloff finished his tour. John Carradine was cast in the role of Dracula, instead of Lugosi, due to the fact the Lugosi was in another touring company of "Arsenic and Old Lace” playing the same role that Karloff had played (Jonathan Brewster).

Boris Karloff earned $20,000 and Lon Chaney Jr. received a flat $10,000 for his third appearance as the Wolf Man. John Carradine (in his first role as Dracula) and J. Carrol Naish were both paid $7,000 each. Lionel Atwill earned $1,750 and George Zucco was paid $1,500. Glenn Strange making his debut as Frankenstein’s creature was paid $500. Strange was the fourth actor to play the Monster in Universal's Frankenstein series. Boris Karloff, who played the Monster in Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Son of Frankenstein (1939) played the role of Dr. Niemann in this film and coached Strange on portraying the creature during production.
Strange, who did his own stunts, was nearly scorched when filming the climax where he flees across a field of burning grass and sinks into a pool of quicksand carrying Dr. Niemann. The burning grass in reality was actually tumbleweeds that burned much faster than expected.
Strange has not the only actor to get a fright during filming. Elena Verdugo who played Llonka, had not seen Lon Chaney in his Wolf Man make-up and in the scene where the Wolf Man rushes pass Llonka and jumps through a window, Verdugo let out such a bloodcurdling scream that the professional screamer who had been hired to dub her scream was not needed and Verdugo's scream was used in the final version of the film.
In the scene when Frankenstein’s creature throws the hunchback assistant Daniel through a window the scream is actually from Karloff. The scream was lifted from the scene in Son of Frankenstein (1939) where the creature finds Yqor’s body. That same scream would later be used in the film The Naked City (1948) when Ted de Corsia falls to his death.
Filming lasted from April 4-May 8, 1944. The film was released on December 1, 1945. This "monster rally" approach proved successful and Universal would use the same approach in the next film House of Dracula (1945) and again in the comedy, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).


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