Super Mates 108: House of Franklin-Stein Part 4

This episode BITES! It’s the final trip to the House of Franklin-Stein for 2023 as Chris and Cindy end the Halloween season with a look at the classic movie that started the Universal Horror cycle proper, 1931’s Dracula, starring the legendary Bela Lugosi!

Then the Prince of Darkness returns to bedevil Storm and the rest of Marvel’s Merry Mutants in Uncanny X-Men Annual #6, by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz!

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Clip credits:

Dracula (1931) directed by Todd Browning

Theme from Pryde of the X-Men by Rob Walsh

Theme from X-Men: The Animated Series by Ron Wasserman

“The House of Franklinstein” by Terry O’Malley, of Stop Calling Me Frank

16 responses to “Super Mates 108: House of Franklin-Stein Part 4

  1. Definitely agree that it was a waste to take Rachel Van Helsing taken off the table, especially since her final confrontation with Dracula before he turned her was completely off-panel! Claremont had written a few issues of Giant-Size Dracula in the 1970s, where he introduced a new opponent for Dracula: Kate Fraser, a young woman with low-level telepathic powers who aided Scotland Yard in their efforts against Dracula. I probably would have preferred it if Claremont had used Kate Fraser in this story; at least then, he’d be taking one of his own creations out of the toybox…

    1. I probably read those Giant-Size Dracula tales in the Essential volumes ( I think they are included there). I didn’t remember Kate Fraser, but I agree, it would have been better if they’d just used her. I hate to say it, but there was some rather nasty bad blood between DC and Marvel back in the 80s, so maybe someone told Claremont to stick it to Marv Wolfman, who was writing DC’s best-selling book? Probably not, but it’s a thought.

  2. Partially inspired by your podcast, my wife and I began watching the Universal monster movies in order this month. We have made it through Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, and have begun Bride. Dracula is the only one that I can remember watching before, but I may have come across others as a kid watching Shock Theater on Saturday afternoons. My mom was not fond of it since I had a very vivid imagination and a pretty sharp startle reflex. Nightmare fuel and all that. So far, I would say that my favorite is The Invisible Man and the spookiest just might be The Mummy. Boris Karloff looks fairly desiccated in that one. Creeeepy!

    I agree that Dracula is pretty much a filmed stage play. But Dwight Frye as Renfield and Lugosi make it more than worth a watch.

    The Claremont X-Men were my favorite comic back in the day and Kitty Pryde was always my comic book girlfriend (I know, I know, get in line, right?) so I well remember that annual. However, I don’t think that it ever dawned on me that Bill Sienkiewicz was the artist since it was so different from his scratchy, geometric style in New Mutants and Moon Knight.

    Thanks for sparking an interest in seeing the classics from Universal.

    1. Well, Super Captain, you made my day. If our shows can turn folks onto these classic movies, I feel like we’ve done some good work. I know they are still well-loved, and heavily-merchandised, moreso now than in the previous several decades, honestly. But for that love to continue, folks need to watch the films. So I’m glad to hear you and your wife are enjoying them. You have some great films ahead of you! Keep us posted on what you think!

  3. Hm, can’t add much to the “I never liked the X-men/Dracula” stories rant that I already wrote last year when you covered X-men #159. It all applies to this annual as well (again, nice art notwithstanding). I’ll just add that – and this topic also came up last time – I’m a little more receptive to the idea that there probably was some mandate at Marvel at the time to get rid of characters that Marv Wolfman either created or put his mark on. In the meantime, I’ve heard that argument brought up a few more times on various comics podcasts and I’m finding some of the arguments persuasive. I definitely agree that the way Rachel van Helsing was offed in this story is pretty lame.

    But regardless, I thought you guys covered the issue quite well as usual, and I enjoyed the show. This season just seemed to zip by, but I’m keeping the spirit going by reading spooky comics (mainly Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror”, but I have a few other things queued up…).

    1. Well, okay, maybe my “anti-Marv Wolfman” thought wasn’t so out there. I know Wolfman never cared much for Shooter, even saying in interviews he wish he’d never hired him at Marvel, so I imagine the feeling is mutual. The following year Dracula (a character primarily developed by Wolfman, like Rachel here) was “erased” from the Marvel Universe. Hmmm…

      This season did seem to go by faster than usual. Enjoy your spooky comics! I hope to get to a few before Oct. 31, including a re-read of the Roy Thomas/Dick Giordano adaptation of Dracula!

  4. Another set of Franklinstein shows done and gone. And, thankfully, the two of you increased the “buck nekkid with a cheese sammich” output this year. We even got one or two from Cindy! You two definitely know what the listeners (or at least this one in particular) want.

  5. Franklins, we Captains are easily influenced. Like Super Captain above, my wife and I (and whichever daughters happen to be home and interested) have also started taking in some Universal monster movies. We just started with Dracula a few nights ago, and it was great to watch that before listening to your excellent coverage of it (and the X-Men Annual!). I appreciated your explanation of why the story was so choppy, but as you noted, some of the performances were outstanding. I echo your praise of Lugosi, Frye as Renfield, and Von Sloan as Van Helsing. Chandler was good, too, and Gerrard was so funny as Martin that I forgave him what is usually a pet peeve — people being surprised by things they should clearly expect (“Why, he’s LOOny!” — Yes, of course he is, Martin. You work in a sanitarium that treats the mentally ill.)

    My favorite scene was in Seward’s parlor. Van Helsing and Dracula sized each other up, decided on mutual respect, and then formed a weird kind of partnership as the only two people in the room who knew what was going on. That all happened in just a few minutes on screen. “Van Helsing will explain.” It was very much an Xavier-Magneto vibe, or maybe Batman and Ra’s al Ghul. I’ll probably watch just that part again.

    Thanks again for a great year of House of Franklinstein!

    1. Thanks for listening Captain! And glad to hear your family is enjoying some Universal classics this season!

      Speaking of which, if anyone here has a Roku, there is a live Universal Monsters streaming channel right now!

      Good call on the Xavier/Magneto vibe, and appropriate considering what we covered!

  6. Thanks for another brilliant batch of Hallowe’en shows, these are a total highlight of my year. I think this is the first time I’ve seen all the films and read all the comics discussed. I really appreciate the work you put in.

    Love to Messrs Craddock and Grundy.

  7. Great show, Cindy and Chris. This is the first season I’ve listened to the House of Franklin-stein episodes, and I loved it. I’m not a big horror fan, and I’ve never seen any of these movies, but the coverage was great. You two really killed it. Fantastic series of episodes. Well done.

    1. Thanks Brett! I really appreciate you listening, especially when you aren’t into horror! I have to do my due dilligence and recommend a few primo classic monster films. I’d watch Universal’s Invisible Man, (as we covered here) Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Wolf Man, Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. For Hammer I’d recommend the first Dracula film, Horror of Dracula, and their version of The Mummy. That covers most of the classic-style monsters. We’ve covered all of these on HoF, so you can go back and listen to our thoughts after watching them. You have a whole year to do it! 😉

  8. I can’t believe I finally finished this series when it’s this close to Christmas! But I wanted to let you both know of the terrific job you have done. I always look forward to the HoF when it shows up, even if it takes me awhile knock at the door.

    Hooray for Dracula! I’m surprised you haven’t actually covered this film before, but it certainly has set a standard that I don’t think will ever be equaled. You pretty much summed the film perfectly on how I feel about it. It’s a seminal movie that gets borrowed from so much, but the actual movie itself, feels slow in some places and is shot like a play which can sometimes get in the way of the storytelling.

    And mentioning the Spanish version was great as I ought that version (along with a lot of other movies) in the Universal Monsters Classic Collection VHS tapes. I believed the commercial said, “…. and the Spanish version of Dracula, a collector’s treasure.”

    Once again, thank you so much for covering such great movies and comics over the years! I’m looking forward to where the House will land next year!

    Keep up the great work!

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