When lightning frees doctor Niemann (Boris Karloff) & his loyal hunchbacked
servant Daniel (J.Caroll Naish) from prison, Niemann has only 2 goals, to pick
up the experiments of Frankenstein where his brother has left off, and (first
& foremost) to kill the 3 men who have thrown him into prison.
To these ends Niemann & Daniel soon kill sideshow etrepreneur Lampini
(George Zucco), who happens to have the skeleton of Dracula (John Carradine) in
his possession, & take his sideshow to Kieselstadt, the home of Hussmann
(Sig Rumann), first on Niemann's private to kill-list.
Niemann's ways of killing him do seem ingenious to the point of ridicule: He
pulls the stake out of Dracula's skeleton, thereby awakening him, & somehow
forces him into submission. & indeed, Dracula wastes little time &
wisits the Hussmans's, & does Niemann's bidding in killing the old man, but
Hussmann's granddaughter in law, the beatuiful Rita (Anne Gwynne) has caught
his sight, & so he abducts her. Luck has it though, that her hubby Karl
(Peter Coe) has seen through count Dracula's educated behaviour, &,
together with the village's inspector (Lionel Atwill) & the local police
force chases him through the countryside. Niemann, seeing the police on
Dracula's heels, drops the vampire's coffin, & when Dracula, having to
sleep in his native soil that is only contained in the coffin, has to retrieve
it despite his pursuers, he is caught (& killed) by the rising sun ...
Having fulfilled the first of his selfimposed tasks, Niemann searches out
Strauss (Michael Mark) & Uhlman (Frank Reicher), the other 2 men he has to
kill to exact his revenge, who just happen to live in Vasaria, where both the
Wolf Man (Lon Chaney jr) & Frankenstein's monster (Glenn Strange) lie
buried under the rubble of castle Frankenstein - & where hunchback Daniel
finds true love in gypsie girl Ilonka (Elena Verdugo).
And now it gets really silly: Niemann, in search of another means of revenge,
decides to revive the monster & the Wolf Man - who in his human form of
Larry Talbot is quite unhappy about these developments - & wants to punish
Uhlmann & Strauss by seriously swapping brains around between pretty much
everybody in the cast (don't ask, here the film has lost me somehow). Poor
Daniel meanwhile is depressed because all of a sudden Ilonka seems to prefer
non-hunchback Larry Talbot - despite his lycanthropic state - over him &
lets his anger out on the not yet quite revived monster. & then there is
yet another mob of torches-carrying villagers ...
It of course all ends in chaos, with the monster going berserk, all the bad
people killed, Larry/the Wolf Man finally freed of his miserable state when
Ilonka shoots him with a silver bullet out of love, & everything going up
in flames yet again ...
To nobody's surprise, Frankenstein's monster, Dracula & the Wolf Man
would all return the following year in House of Dracula.
House of Frankenstein is yet another example of how much in shambles
the once proud Universal horror-cycle was by the mid-40's. Here,
Universal's 3 main monsters are just thrown together in an incoherent plot
(or 2 plots, as the Dracula-story seems to be disconnected from the rest of the
film) that doesn't even attempt to make much sense. Even a good performance by
the dependable Boris Karloff can't lift the movie from utter nonsense. It's
kind of a laugh though for friends of the absurd.