House of Dracula is a 1945 American horror film released by Universal Pictures. Directed by Erle C. Kenton, the film features several Universal Horror properties meeting as they had done previously in the 1944 film The House of Frankenstein. The film is set at the castle home of Dr. Franz Edelmann, who is visited first by Count Dracula and later by Lawrence Talbot / The Wolf Man, who are trying to cure their vampirism and lycanthropy, respectively. The doctor agrees to help the count, who arrives first, but is unable to aid Larry Talbot. Talbot tries to get himself imprisoned to control his Wolf Man other self, but eventually tries to commit suicide by leaping into the ocean near the castle. Talbot survives the fall, only to find the body of Frankenstein's Monster in a cave near the bottom of the castle. Edelemann takes the monster's body back to his laboratory, but finds that Count Dracula has awoken and by attacking his assistants, he captures Edelmann and forces a reverse blood transfusion, which gives Edelmann a split personality that likes to cause havoc for those around him.
The film was initially developed with the title Dracula Vs. The Wolf Man to be directed by Ford Beebe with Bela Lugosi reprising his role of Count Dracula. After actor Boris Karloff returned for a two-film deal with Universal and several requests from the censorship board, the film was put on hold for nearly six months. The film eventually went into production being directed by Kenton and a screenplay by Edward T. Lowe who took elements from the Dracula Vs. the Wolf Man script while adding in Frankenstein's monster to the plot. Many cast and crew members returned from House of Frankenstein, including John Carradine in the role of Count Dracula, Glenn Strange as the monster, and Lon Chaney, Jr. as both the Wolf Man and Larry Talbot. The film went into production on September 17, 1945 and finished on October 24, 1945. The film uses large portions of music from previous Universal features film as well as footage, sets and props from other early Universal horror films. The film was released on December 7, 1945 and was described by historian Gregory Mank as "the final serious entry of Universal's Frankenstein saga." It received predominantly negative reviews in its early New York screenings with retrospective reviews being predominantly lukewarm.
Count Dracula arrives at the castle home of Dr. Franz Edelmann. The count explains that he has come to Visaria to find a cure for his vampirism. Dr. Edelmann agrees to help, believing that vampirism can be cured by a series of blood transfusions. The count agrees to this, and Edelmann uses his own blood for the transfusions. Afterwards, the count has his coffin placed in the castle basement. That night, Lawrence Talbot arrives at the castle demanding to see Dr. Edelmann about a cure for his lycanthropy. Talbot is told to wait, but knowing the moon is rising, Talbot has himself incarcerated by the police. Inspector Holtz asks Edelmann to see Talbot, and as the full moon rises, they both witness his transformation into the Wolf Man. Edelmann and his assistant Milizia have him transferred to the castle the next morning. Edelmann tells him that he believes that Talbot's transformations are not triggered by the moonlight, but by pressure on the brain, and believes he can relieve the pressure and asks Talbot to wait while he gathers more spores from a plant he believes can cure him. Despondent by the thought of becoming the Wolf Man again, Talbot attempts suicide by jumping into the ocean, only to end up in a cave below the castle.
Edelmann finds Talbot in the cave, where they find the catatonic Frankenstein's monster, still clutching the skeleton of Dr. Niemann. Humidity in the cave is perfect for propagating the clavaria formosa, and a natural tunnel in the cave connects to a basement of the castle. Dr. Edelmann takes the monster back to his lab, but considers reviving him to be too dangerous. Meanwhile, the count tries to seduce Milizia and make her a vampire, but Milizia wards him off with a cross. Edelmann interrupts to explain that he has found strange antibodies in the count's blood, requiring another transfusion. Edelmann's assistant Nina begins shadowing Milizia and discovers that the count casts no reflection in a mirror. She warns Edelmann of the vampire's danger to Milizia. Edelmann prepares a transfusion that will destroy the vampire. During the procedure, the count uses his hypnotic powers to put Edelmann and Nina to sleep and reverses the flow of the transfusion, sending his own blood into the doctor's veins. When they awake, the count is carrying Milizia away. They revive Talbot and force the count away with a cross; Dracula returns to his coffin as the sun is beginning to rise. Edelmann follows him and drags the open coffin into the sunlight, destroying him.
Edelmann begins to react to Dracula's blood, and finds that he no longer casts a reflection in a mirror. Falling unconscious, he sees strange visions of a monstrous version of himself performing unspeakable acts. Edelmann awakens, and tries to perform the operation on Talbot. Edelmann begins leaping into a more monstrous personality, and murders his gardener. When the townspeople discover the body, they chase Edelmann, believing him to be Talbot. They follow him to the castle, where Holtz and Steinmuhl interrogate Talbot and Edelmann. Steinmuhl is convinced that Edelmann is the murderer, and assembles a mob to execute him. Talbot is cured by the operation, but Edelmann again turns into his mostrous self. Edelmann revives Frankenstein's monster, with the others witnessing Edelmann's transformation, and Edelmann breaks Nina's neck and tosses her body into the cave. Holtz and Steinmuhl lead the townspeople to the castle, where the police attack the monster, but are subdued by the creature. Edelmann kills Holtz by accidental electrocution, and Talbot shoots Edelmann dead. Talbot traps the monster under fallen shelving as a fire breaks out, and the townspeople flee the burning castle. The burning roof collapses on the monster.