Sunday, February 17, 2019

Monster House

Hidey-ho faithful readers! And so here we go with another edition of WTFH! And we’re still in the throws of the Frankenstein marathon.

Now, I should let you know that the next movie in the series is Frankenstein meets the Wolfman, but I’ve seen it. I’m only mentioning it because the next movie has some ties to our present movie of the week. Plus, Lon Chaney Jr. has played musical monsters in changing roles from Ghost of Frankenstein to Franky vs Wolfie. As many of you probably already know, he has the distinction of having played both Frankenstein and the Wolfman in this series. Bella Lugosi gets to play Frankenstein as well, yet interestingly enough he never gets to be Dracula again…which is weird…because Dracula does show up in this series.

And yes, all of that pretty much makes this a crossover movie. So…

House of Frankenstein starring Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., J. Carrol Naish, The OG of the Carradine family – John Carradine, Anne Gwynne, Peter Coe, George Zucco, and Eleana Verdugo.

Okay, so when last we left the Frankenstein saga…well, there was this whole thing with Frankenstein and the Wolfman fighting over territory. It was messy.

Anywhere, where all of that ended up is the next movie and it's with the doctor from the last movie – Dr. Gustav Niemann (Karloff – Yeah, I know. He’s not the monster, this time) who manages to escape prison -- thanks to a massive thunderstorm blowing a hole in the ceiling -- with his assistant, Daniel (Naish) who – like Ygor before him – has a hunchback. Apparently, it’s a common condition in this universe. Dr. Niemann has promised Daniel a new body because, if you’re a mad scientist and there’s a nearby hunchback, then, of course, you have to give them a new body.

They come across a traveling freakshow guy (Zucco) who claims to be carrying the body of the legendary Count Dracula(Carradine). So, Dr. Neimann decides the kill the freakshow guy and steal his traveling cart AND revive Dracula in order to exact revenge upon the Burgomaster Hussman who imprisoned him in the first place.

Meanwhile, at the Burgomaster’s house, Burgomaster Hussman is living his best life with his grandson and granddaughter-in-law, Rita(Gwynne) when the mysterious Baron Latos (Or Dracula) appears on their doorstep.

He makes nice with the Burgomaster, but decides to instead, make a play for Rita, because, well, he’s Dracula. What happens next is really unrelated to the rest of the movie. Dracula seduces Rita. Dracula kills the Burgomaster, but nearly gets caught. While trying to escape, the authorities catch him out in the sunlight and he turns to a skeleton. The end.

Wait. Nope. Not yet.

So, Dr. Neimann in the meantime is driving around in the horror caravan and comes across a group of Gypsies partying in the woods. The law comes and breaks it up, but not before beating a really pretty gypsy woman – Ilonka (Verdugo) with a whip. Daniel defends her. Grateful, she decides to tag along with them.

They head over to the ruins of the Franken-family’s castle to find the original notes. They find the monster AND Larry Talbot or the Wolf Man (Chaney Jr.) frozen in ice. Dr. Neimann has an idea!

And that’s about the time Dr. Neimann comes into the village on that BS.

Dr. Neimann promises Talbot to cure his wolfman disorder as well as promising Daniel a new body. It, of course, does not work out that way. He, of course, gets caught up in reviving the monster so that he can take revenge on the people that imprisoned him. It doesn’t take long before Talbot’s all “Dude, I’m gonna change if we don’t get on with this.”

Dr. Neimann’s like “In a minute. Let me take care of the monster first.”

So, meanwhile, Talbot’s falling in love with Ilonka. He, of course, confesses his love to her and she’s like:

Daniel’s pretty pissed about this development. In the meantime, Neimann’s kidnapped two of his enemies Herr Ullman and Herr Strauss with the plan of giving the monster Ullman’s brain and the monster’s brain to Talbot. But then, Daniel’s all; “Give my brain to Talbot so I can be with Ilonka.” Neimann’s like:

Daniel tries running interference with Ilonka and warning her about him being a wolfman. She has the normal reaction and tells him he's nuts. Angry, Daniel beats the monster with a whip once she walks out on him.

Okay, so, this whole time Talbot’s been warning Neimann that he’s gonna wolf out at any point. Lo and behold, the full moon rolls around and he goes all wolf and runs amuck in the village. The next morning, he confesses to Ilonka who vows to help him.

That night Neimann FINALLY gets down to reviving the monster. Unfortunately, by the time he gets to it, Talbot’s changed into a wolfman…again. So. The wolfman attacks Ilonka who shoots the wolfman. They both die. After seeing Ilonka die, Daniel attacks Neimann and the monster kills Daniel. The villagers form an angry mob, the monster carries the doctor out to the swamp and they both drown in quicksand.

The end. I guess.

Of the series, this one was the most convoluted. I feel like the studio just threw this one together at the last second to get people in seats.

Still. Karloff, Chaney Jr., and Carradine all in the same movie. I can’t really be that mad at it. Jewel for the culture.

Next week is the final movie in our Frankenstein-a-thon. The House of Dracula. (Yes, I’m aware that there’s no Frankenstein in the title.) See you next week!


Sunday, February 10, 2019

Frankenstein...The Third

What up, people! Welcome to the next installment of WTFHM and the next installment of my trip through the classic Frankenstein movies.

So, in case you didn’t notice, I missed a week, which normally means, I’ve gotta bring the double feature. This time, I’m forgoing that particular rule because I kind of want to spend more time on these movies, being they’re classics. I’m just saying, so much of the horror that I love started in this era of movie making. That being said, today’s feature is:

Ghost of Frankenstein starring Lon Chaney Jr., Cedric Hardwicke, Ralph Bellamy, Lionel Atwill, Bela Lugosi, Evelyn Ankers, Janet Ann Gallow, Barton Yarborough, and Olaf Hytten.

So, this one takes place sometime after Son of Frankenstein. The Monster has been thrown into the castle sulfur pit, Franky Jr. and his family have left town, and the villagers are still angry.

This time, the angry mob goes to the magistrate and tells him that they believe the village is cursed now. Ever since the Frankenstein family came through on that BS, they’ve been having nightmares and their crops won’t grow. The Mayor is all; “But Frankenstein’s gone and his monster’s dead and even Ygor was shot full of bullets.”

The angry mob’s like: “No, he’s not! He’s still alive.”

Mayor: “But we hung him and shot him.”

Angry Mob: “Let’s blow the whole castle up!”

Mayor: …

Angry Mob: “YEAH!”

So, they go to blow the castle up. Ygor (Lugosi), who is, indeed, still alive, manages to escape, but not before finding the monster(Chaney Jr.) in the rubble. He escapes and tells the monster that they are going to go find Ludwig Frankenstein(Hardwicke), Franky Jr.’s brother so that he can restore the monster to his former power. They leave the little village and begin their journey to see Dr. Franky the Third.

So, meanwhile, Ludwig is living his best life in Vasaria. He’s a successful doctor with a thriving practice and a beautiful daughter, Elsa(Ankers) with his two assistants, Dr. Bohmer(Atwill) and Kettering(Yarborough). Everything is fine until Ygor shows up in town and leaves the monster alone for two seconds.

So, the monster sees a bunch of kids picking on a sweet little girl. They take her ball and kick it up onto the roof of one of the buildings. The monster walks over to the little girl who asks him to help her get her ball. He goes; “Ugh” and picks her up and heads to the roof. A bunch of adults see this happening and naturally freak out.

No, really, think about it. Some wrestler-size dude with green skin and a flat head walks up and picks up a little girl then climbs the roof of the nearest building with her. Needless to say, a panic ensuing seems pretty appropriate. What’s worse, is that in trying to get to the roof, the monster manages to kill two of the villagers.

So, after getting the ball from the roof, the little girl asks the monster to bring her back down off the roof, which he does. He hands her to her father, Herr Hussman (Hytten) and then is promptly attacked and arrested by the police.

Okay, so, the town prosecutor, Erik Ernst (Bellamy) goes to Franky the Third and asks him to take a look at this lunatic they just arrested. Before he can go, Ygor shows up and tells him that the lunatic is actually the monster that his dad created. He begs him to go to the monster and fix him so he can go on killing people again be best friends with him again. Franky The Third is like:

Ygor then proceeds to the blackmail. He tells him that if he doesn’t help him, then he would tell everyone in town all about his family heritage of creating monsters that kill people. Franky the Third says:

Okay, so get this. Back at the police station, they decide to put the monster on trial. In a courtroom. With nothing but some shackles and chains to restrain him…and Ludwig walks in and denies ever seeing him before. You can probably guess that things go bad pretty quickly.

The monster pretty much starts destroying everything in the courtroom. Ygor comes in and calms the beast and leads him away with his magic flute of calming.

So, he leads the monster back to Ludwig’s house and breaks into Ludwig’s laboratory. His daughter, Elsa, catches them there and is carried off by the monster. Dr. Kettering tries to stop them, but, of course, is killed. Franky the third comes in and fills the hallway with gas – knock out gas, cuz, that’s a thing.

All right, so Ludwig goes about keeping up his end of the bargain he made with Ygor to see about fixing him. He comes up with the plan to switch the monster’s brain out with Kettering’s. He comes up with this plan because the ghost of his father (Get it? Ghost of Frankenstein?) appears to him and tells him to switch out the monster’s criminal brain with a nice normal one.

And that’s about the time that Franky the Third comes in on that BS.

So, he tells Ygor the plan and Ygor’s like; “Hey, what about me? I’ve been shot and hung. I could use a new body.” Franky the third is like;

So, Ygor starts some of his own BS and goes to Bohmer and feeds him a whole lot of bull about him being a better scientist than Franky the Third and if he switches his brain instead of Kettering’s it’ll make him famous.

No, I don’t know how switching Ygor’s brain instead of Kettering makes him any more famous, but, whatever. Bohmer, not being the brightest scientist in the room, eagerly buys the idea with fries and a shake.

Okay, so, the police come to the house looking for the monster, because, you can’t just walk out of trial after laying waste to the place and expect not to get arrested again. The police search Ludwig’s house and even find the secret room they were keeping the monster in, only to find it empty.

Meanwhile, the monster gets loose and heads over to the little girl’s house – you know, the one from earlier that he caused a panic over? So, yeah, he kidnaps her out of her bed and brings her back to the castle in the hopes that Franky the Third will switch her brain with his. He refuses and convinces the monster to let the little girl go, which he does. Franky the Third then gets to work on operating on the monster.

But by this time, Bohmer has switched brains without him knowing. So, Franky the Third puts Ygor’s brain in the Monster’s head instead. And while all this is going on, Herr Hussman discovers his daughter is gone and immediately blames the monster. Cue angry mob.

So, just as Franky the Third is finding out that he’s just been played, the angry mob shows up at the house to find Herr Hussman’s daughter. The Ygor/monster decides to fill the house with gas – not knockout gas, but gas-gas – in order to kill everyone. Franky the Third tries to stop him but fails. In the middle of everything, the Ygor/Monster goes blind. Yup. Blind.

Franky the Third tells him it’s because his blood is incompatible with the monster’s blood. The Ygor/Monster flips out and kills Franky the Third by electrocuting him, which causes a fire, which burns down the house. Fortunately, the townspeople, Elsa and the little girl all escape in time.

So, yeah, that’s how it ends. Did I like it? Meh.

I mean, it’s getting a jewel, no doubt. I can’t raspberry a classic. It wouldn’t be right.

Plus, did you notice some of the actors? Lon Chaney Jr. and Ralph Bellamy? You know, Ralph Bellamy. Trading Places?

Yeah, you know him.

So, next week, we continue with House of Frankenstein. See you then!