In Edinburgh, renowned surgeon and now teacher of anatomy Dr. MacFarlane, has been paying John Gray, a cabman, to clandestinely bring him exhumed bodies of the recently deceased for classroom demonstration purposes. With cemeteries being increasingly guarded, Gray turns to murder to provide MacFarlane with fresh bodies. Realizing that he will never be rid of Gray, who constantly taunts him with his knowledge of MacFarland’s past indiscretions, MacFarlane engages the malevolent Gray in a hand-to-hand fight to the death, the ultimate results of which provide the victor with an episode of unprecedented psychological horror.
In many ways the most endearing of Universal’s B-grade “monster rallies” of the 1940s, House of Frankenstein manages within its 70-minute time span to make room for Frankenstein’s monster (Glenn Strange), Dracula (John Carradine) the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr.), and a couple of new recruits, mad scientist Boris Karloff and demented hunchback J. Carroll Naish. Escaping from prison, Karloff vows to continue his diabolical efforts to emulate Dr. Frankenstein’s “eternal life” experiments; he also swears vengeance on the three men (Sig Ruman, Frank Reicher and Michael Mark) who were responsible for sending him to prison. With the help of fellow escapee Naish, Karloff murders a travelling-carnival impresario (George Zucco) and assumes his identity. He travels first to the village where Ruman is burgomaster. Since his carnival is a “chamber of horrors”, Karloff utilizes one of those horrors–Count Dracula–to settle his account with Ruman. Dracula does so, but dies when the first rays of sunlight stream across his body. En route to the next village, Naish gives shelter to runaway gypsy girl Elena Verdugo, who joins the caravan (though she remains incredibly naive concerning Karloff’s intentions!) Coming to the village when the Frankenstein monster and the Wolfman were presumably drowned at the end of Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1944), Karloff revives the latter, who when he’s not baying at the moon is the comparatively good-looking Lawrence Talbot. Karloff secures Talbot’s cooperation by promising to perform some brain surgery that will relieve him of his lycanthropy. Later on, Karloff kidnaps and kills his other enemies Mark and Reicher, intending to use their brains to cure Talbot and to reactivate the Frankenstein monster. Jealous of Verdugo’s attentions towards Talbot, Naish rebels against Karloff, and is killed for his troubles. Talbot turns into the Wolfman, whereupon Verdugo kills him before expiring herself. And Karloff, rendered immobile by the requisite attack of angry villagers, is dragged by the lumbering Monster into a pit of quicksand. Thus House of Frankenstein has something in common with Hamlet: No one is left alive at fade-out time. It’s to scenarist Robert Siodmak’s credit that he was able to fashion a coherent screenplay out of the crazy-quilt of copyrighted horror characters handed to him by Universal Pictures.
Dr. Hohner (Karloff), theatre physician at the Vienna Royal Theatre, murders his mistress, the star soprano when his jealousy drives him to the point of mad obsession. Ten years later, another young singer (Foster) reminds Hohner of the late diva, and his old mania kicks in. Hohner wants to prevent her from singing for anyone but him, even if it means silencing her forever. The singer’s fiancée (Bey) rushes to save her in the film’s climax.
Winnie Slade, a young divorcee, buys an old historic house from nutty Professor Billings, who lives there with his daffy housekeeper and bizarre neighbors, in order to convert it into a hotel. She allows them to continue to live on the property – unaware that the Professor continues to experiment unsuccessfully on traveling salesmen, the bodies of whom have filled the cellar. They are joined by a variety of eccentric characters including a quack doctor who doubles as the town’s sheriff, Winnie’s frenetic ex-husband, an oddball choreographer, a punchdrunk traveling salesman, and a lunatic escapee from the Italian army.
Dr. Julian Blair is engaged in unconventional research on human brain waves when his wife is tragically killed in a freak auto accident. The grief-stricken scientist becomes obsessed with redirecting his work into making contact with the dead and is not deterred by dire warnings from his daughter, his research assistant, or his colleagues that he is delving into forbidden areas of knowledge. He moves his laboratory to an isolated New England mansion where he continues to try to reach out to his dead wife. He is aided by his mentally-challenged servant Karl and abetted by the obsessive Mrs. Walters, a phony medium, who seems to exert a sinister influence over him. When their overly curious housekeeper discovers the truth about their experiments, her death brings the local sheriff in to investigate.
Kay Kyser and his orchestra are hired to entertain at the birthday party of a young heiress at a creepy old mansion, where they uncover a plot against her life. Who is the villain? The sinister judge? The phony medium? The skeptical psychologist? You’ll find out.
When Captain Street’s best friend Dan O’Grady is murdered, Street enlists the help of Chinese detective James Lee Wong. Mr. Wong uncovers a smuggling ring on the waterfront of San Francisco and unmasks the killer, though not until several more murders occur.
Dr. Bernard Adrian is a kindly mad scientist who seeks to cure a young woman’s polio. He needs spinal fluid from a human to complete the formula for his experimental serum. Meanwhile, a vicious circus ape has broken out of its cage, and is terrorizing towns people.
Condemned to death for a mercy killing, Dr. John Garth (Karloff) continues to experiment in prison to develop a serum that will put at end to the ageing process. On the eve of his execution, he offers himself as guinea pig for his youth serum, which has recently been mixed with the blood of an executed psychopath. Miraculously, Garth does grow younger before the astonished eyes of kindly prison physician Ralph Howard (Edward Van Sloan). Alas, the serum has murderous side effects, which Howard discovers only as Garth strangles him to death. Pardoned from Death Row thanks to a script contrivance, Garth spends the rest of the film trying to carry on his humanitarian work despite embarrassing lapses into homicidal mania. Many observers regard Before I Hang as the best of Karloff’s “Mad Doctor” series for Columbia.
When his friend Professor Kingsely (Ridges) is at deaths door, brain surgeon Dr. Sovac (Karloff) saves his life by means of an illegal operation that transplants part of injured gangster Red Cannon’s brain. Unfortunately, the operation has a disasterous Jeckll and Hyde side effect and under certain conditions the persona of Cannon emerges. Sovac soon learns of the duel personality and of half a million dollars the gangster has hidden away. He attempts to find the money through the manipulation of his friend, an attempt that brings Kingsley closer to madness as he alternates between a meek professor of english and a brutal gangster out for murderous revenge on those who tried to kill him.
In the 15th century Richard Duke of Gloucester, aided by his club-footed executioner Mord, eliminates those ahead of him in succession to the throne, then occupied by his brother King Edward IV of England. As each murder is accomplished he takes particular delight in removing small figurines, each resembling one of the successors, from a throne-room dollhouse, until he alone remains. After the death of Edward he becomes Richard III, King of England, and need only defeat the exiled Henry Tudor to retain power.
Wolf Frankenstein, son of Henry Frankenstein, returns with his wife, to his fathers estate to claim his inheritance. When he arrives with his family he recieves a hostile reception from locals. While exploring his fathers laboratory he comes across crooked blacksmith – Ygor, who asks him to revive his father’s creation – the MONSTER who is lying in a coma. Wolf tries to revive the monster and believes he fails but then some of the locals are found murdered soon after who just happened to be part of the jury that sent Ygor to the gallows. The villagers immediately connect the killings to Frankenstein and send the inspector to investigate. He discovers the monster is alive and is being used as tool by Ygor. Wolf then in fit of madness shoots Ygor. The then enraged monster losing his only friend kidnaps Wolf’s son. In the end Wolf tracks the monster to the lab where he swings down on a chain knocking the monster into a sulpher pit and thus his demise.
Mad Scientist, Dr. Henryk Savaard, is obsessed with bringing the dead back to life. The police are alerted of Savaard’s activities by his assistant’s girlfriend. Savaard is arrested, convicted and sentenced to hang. He vows revenge on the judge, jury and district attorney. After the hanging, his assistant claims Savaard’s body and uses Savaard’s technique on it. Savaard is brought back to life. Now he can seek sweet revenge on his prosecutors.
Dr. Laurence, a once-respectable scientist, begins to research the origin of the mind and the soul. The science community rejects him, and he risks losing everything for which he has worked. He begins to use his discoveries to save his research and further his own causes, thereby becoming… a Mad Scientist, almost unstoppable.
A gang of racketeers frames down-on-his-luck John Elman for murder. After a trial finds him guilty, evidence is brought forth proving his innocence, but it is too late and he is executed anyway. A doctor sees an opportunity to use an experimental procedure to restore him to life but is that entirely possible? Desirable?
Visionary scientist Janos Rukh convinces a group of scientists and supporters to mount an expedition to the African continent to locate and study an ancient meteorite of great significance. He exposes himself to the highly toxic radiation of the meteorite, and while an antidote devised by Dr. Benet saves him from death by radiation poisoning, his naked touch causes instant death to others. Back in London, the benefits of the meteorite’s controlled radiation offer Dr. Benet an opportunity to restore eyesight to the blind. The antidote’s toxicity excites Prof. Rukh into paranoid rages as he seeks revenge against the members of his expedition, who he accuses of stealing his discovery for their own glory.
Prophecy has it that younger twin Anton will kill brother Gregor in the castle’s Black Room. Anton returns to the castle after a 10 year hiatus. Gregor, a Baron, has many attempts on his life as his subjects detest his tyranny. However, good natured Anton earns the subjects’ respect, and the admiration of Col.Hassel, uncle of the beautiful Thea. When Gregor kills young servant Mashka, his subjects storm the castle to remove him. Devious Gregor renounces his title in favour of brother Anton to appease them. He then kills Anton to assume his identity and the Baronship again. He is free to pursue Thea with Col.Hassel’s blessing. When Col.Hassel discovers Gregor’s impersonation, he also meets death. With Thea’s true love, Lt. Lussan, wrongfully convicted of Hassel’s murder, it appears nothing can stop evil Gregor from ambushing her into marriage. But what of that prophecy?
A wealthy judge coaxes the brilliant but eccentric neurological surgeon Dr. Vollin (Lugosi), who also has an obsessive penchant for Edgar Allen Poe, out of retirement to save the life of his daughter, a dancer crippled and brain damaged in an auto wreck. Vollin restores her completely, but also envisions her as his “Lenore,” and cooks up a scheme to kidnap the woman and torture and kill her fiance’ and father in his Poe-inspired dungeon. To do his dirty work, Vollin recruits a wanted criminal (Karloff), and turns him into a hideous monster to guarantee his subservience.
Sir Karell Borotyn appears to have been killed by Count Mora, a vampire believed to haunt the local village. Now his daughter Irena is the count’s next target. Enter Professor Zelen, an expert on vampires who’s sent in to prevent her death. At the same time, secrets are revealed surrounding the circumstances of Sir Karell’s death.
Mary Shelley reveals the main characters of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein (goaded by an even madder scientist) builds his monster a mate.
Honeymooning in Hungary, Joan and Peter Allison share their train compartment with Dr. Vitus Verdegast, a courtly but tragic man who is returning to the remains of the town he defended before becoming a prisoner of war for fifteen years. When their hotel-bound bus crashes in a mountain storm and Joan is injured, the travellers seek refuge in the home, built fortress-like upon the site of a bloody battlefield, of famed architect Hjalmar Poelzig. There, cat-phobic Verdegast learns his wife’s fate, grieves for his lost daughter, and must play a game of chess for Allison’s life.
An ancient Egyptian returns from the dead to take revenge on those who have violated his tomb.
A knife-wielding, enigmatic Egyptian Arab Aga Ben Dragore is seeking an sacred jewel which has been stolen from an ancient tomb. The thief tells him that he sold it to Professor Morlant, a fanatical Egyptologist who fervently believes in the pagan power of the ancient Egyptian gods. Dying from a mysteriously disfiguring ailment, Morlant entrusts his faithful manservant to bandage the jewel in his hand and warns him of dire consequences if his dying wishes aren’t carried out. After his burial in an Egyptian-type tomb on his estate, an anonymous robber steals the precious stone from the corpse. Although the ghastly-looking dead man rises at the next full moon to seek revenge, neither he nor the audience know which member of the household possesses the powerful jewel.
In 1921 a field expedition in Egypt discovers the mummy of ancient Egyptian prince Im-Ho-Tep, who was condemned and buried alive for sacrilege. Also found in the tomb is the Scroll of Thoth, which can bring the dead back to life. One night a young member of the expedition reads the Scroll out loud, and then goes insane, realizing that he has brought Im-Ho-Tep back to life. Ten years later, disguised as a modern Egyptian, the mummy attempts to reunite with his lost love, an ancient princess who has been reincarnated into a beautiful young woman.