That night, Kay and Alucard roust the justice of the peace out of bed and insist on being married immediately.
By the time Brewster returns home he finds that Frank has turned himself in to the sheriff. Brewster insists that the whole thing is a mistake; he saw Kay late the previous evening, after Frank came to him with the story of the murder. But when the Sheriff searches the estate he finds Kay’s body and, sure enough, it’s thoroughly dead.
Comments: Robert Siodmak’s first directorial assignment for Universal was a relatively undistinguished one, but even so I was a little unfair when I wrote about it previously. Son of Dracula is quite an entertaining movie, once you set aside the film’s two glaring imperfections.
The first, of course, is the presence of Lon Chaney, Jr as Dracula. Brunas and Weaver claim that Universal was trying to build Chaney into a bankable horror-movie star by systematically embedding him in all of their big franchises (by the time Son of Dracula premiered on November 5, 1943, Chaney had already played the Wolf Man, the Mummy and Frankenstein’s monster). It’s a reasonable explanation, or at least not an unreasonable one, and perhaps on paper he seemed like a good choice. In practice, meh, not so much.
But Universal could do worse, and they did: the role would next go to marble-mouthed ham John Carradine. So perhaps it’s time to quit pillorying poor Lon Chaney and move on.
The second strike against this movie is the absurd notion that Dracula can evade detection by spelling his name backwards. Just about everyone sees through this one right away; he might as well have introduced himself as Dr. Acula. If he was looking for an anagram of his name, he might have tried harder, though I admit that Nat Cuduralco or Toucan LaCrud might have come off as a bit eccentric.
Previously I’d complained about the lack of a clear protagonist in this movie: Alucard is a non-starter in that category. Kay is prominently featured early on, then Frank, then Dr. Brewster; and finally Dr. Lazlo. It seemed to work a bit better seeing it again, but the structure still strikes me as quite odd. Perhaps it would have been smarter to have more of the story told from Kay’s perspective, rather than pushing her into the background in favor of Brewster in the second act.
The poster above is clearly trying to sell Kay as the protagonist, though if Universal wanted to go that route (TEMPTRESS OF TERROR! A Vampire’s Bride — With Blood On Her Lips!) shouldn’t they have gone with the title Bride of Dracula? Admittedly the poster we’re seeing here is from a re-release, but still. There’s nothing in the movie that suggests Alucard is the son of Dracula anyway, and Bride of Dracula would have been a helpful title; it would have let the audience know where to focus their attention.
Interestingly, this is Lon Chaney Jr.’s fourth appearance in a row on Horror Incorporated. I am not sure if this is a record (I suspect it isn’t) but it would be interesting to find out. Perhaps at some point in the future I’ll pull together some stats of highest number of consecutive appearances, and highest number of appearances total.
My guess is that Evelyn Ankers will sweep all categories. But we’ll see.
The Invisible Man
Synopsis: A stranger walks along a country road into the small English village of Iping. The man wears a coat and hat to protect himself from the late winter snow, but he also wears tinted goggles and his head is wrapped in bandages.
He enters an inn and rents a room. There he works feverishly on some sort of medical experiment.
Meanwhile, Dr. Cranley (William Travers) , his daughter Flora (Gloria Stuart) and his assistant Kemp (William Harrigan) are trying to understand what has become of Dr. Cranley’s underling, Jack Griffin. Griffin had been experimenting on his own with a dangerous chemical called monocaine, a substance which, when injected into animals, bleaches them white — and drives them mad.
Back at the inn, a crazed and paranoid Griffin causes havoc whenever he is disturbed, and he is soon ordered to vacate the premises.
Refusing to do so, a group of townsfolk and the local police attempt to evict him. Griffin begins removing the bandages on his head — revealing himself (or perhaps not revealing himself) to be an invisible man. Causing considerable property damage and bodily harm, he removes the rest of his clothing and flees the scene.
At first, the people of Iping are held up as laughingstocks by the police and the media; but soon enough the reports of an invisible man on a rampage are confirmed.
That evening Kemp is visited at home by Griffin, who tells him that he had indeed discovered a monocaine derivative that causes complete invisibility. However, Griffin can’t reverse the process and he wants to use Kemps’s laboratory to work on a solution.
It was a smash hit when it premiered on November 18, 1933. “Photographic magic abounds in the production, the work being even more startling than was that of Douglas Fairbanks’s old picture The Thief of Bagdad“, wrote the Times’ film critic Mordaunt Hall. “The story makes such superb cinematic material that one wonders that Hollywood did not film it sooner. Now that it has been done, it is a remarkable achievement.”
**However, had the movie been made five years later, one could easily imagine Orson Welles playing the role of Griffin.