“All the Screen's Titans of Terror - Together in the Greatest of All Screen Sensations!” So proclaimed the posters for House Of Frankenstein, heralding the fact that for the first time ever, Universal’s unholy trinity of classic monsters would share a single screen together. Sort of.
The problem is that the movie plays more like two short stories thread-barely stitched together rather than as a complete film. Dracula is revived by the eeeevil Dr. Niemann, but is dispatched halfway through the film when he proves uncontrollable. Only then does Niemann move on to Castle Frankenstein where he thaws out The Wolfman and The Monster. From there the movie follows the lycanthropic Larry Talbot as he mopes around while the comatose Monster lies strapped to a table. Only near the end do things pick up as Larry wolfs out just in time to take a silver bullet and the monster wakes up long enough to drag Niemann into a pool of quicksand.
Don’t get me wrong, if you’re a fan of the old Universal Monsters, there’s still fun to be had in House Of Frankenstein. There’s all the requisite foggy moors and full moons. And its hard to deny the charms of a movie where a homicidal lecherous hunchback gets tossed out a castle window. But ultimately, the film leaves you feeling just a tad bit gypped because the three monsters, while technically in the same movie, are never all onscreen together at the same time.
If you really want to see three big names come together and see it done right, look no further than this week’s reading on the Baptism of Jesus, an event which marks the first explicit appearance of the Holy Trinity in scripture. As Pope John Paul II described it, “At the centre of the scene we see the figure of Christ, the Messiah who fulfils all righteousness. He is the one who brings the divine plan of salvation to fulfillment, humbly showing his solidarity with sinners. His voluntary humbling wins him a wondrous exaltation: the Father's voice from heaven resounds above him, proclaiming: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased"… The Holy Spirit descends on Jesus as the power of superabundant love. Referring precisely to Jesus' Baptism, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: "The Spirit whom Jesus possessed in fullness from his conception comes to "rest on him”'. Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all mankind". The whole Trinity is therefore present at the Jordan to reveal this mystery, to authenticate and support Christ's mission and to indicate that with him salvation history has entered its central and definitive phase.”
As a former actor, JPII seems to have recognized the epically cinematic nature of the scene. “It involves time and space, human life and the cosmic order”, he exclaimed, “but first of all the three divine Persons.” Now that’s a tagline for a movie poster!