…One of the very first horror movie sequels which many consider the greatest horror ever made!
Starring: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Ernest Thesiger, Elsa Lanchester
Directed by: James Whale, Produced by: Carl Laemmle Jr.
Ratings: Internet Movie Data Base; 7.9/10 …Rotten Tomatoes; 100%
Our rating; 7.5/10
Bride of Frankenstein from 1935. The film begins with an inventive and novel scene based on the real life event involving author Mary Shelley, her husband, poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley and fellow poet Lord Byron.
Byron is praising Mary and fascinated by her incredible imagination in writing Frankenstein. Mary explains, however that there is more to the story and begins to narrate the coarse of events which are to take place immediately following the end of the first film.
The film flashes forward to the flaming destruction of the old mill in the first film where the angry townsfolk had pursued Frankenstein’s monstrous creation. Frankenstein himself is thought dead, being thrown from the top of the wind mill by the very creature he created.
As for the Monster…we soon learn that he hasn’t been engulfed in the flames at all. He’s still alive!
Dr Henry Frankenstein’s body is transported back to his castle home and given over to his fiancée, Elizabeth (this time played by Valerie Hobson) who soon notices Henry moving and rejoices he’s alive.
After recuperating from the whole ordeal, Dr Frankenstein (Colin Clive) still dreams of discovering the secret of life and feels destined to find it. However, he’s torn between what could have been and the terrible lesson that was the horror brought forth by the monster.
It’s right there that we are introduced to Dr Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger), a former mentor of Henry’s.
Pretorius has come after hearing of the “success” Frankenstein has had giving life to dead tissue and wants to partner with Henry so they can, together, probe the secrets of life and death.
The shady Pretorius has conducted experiments of his own but succeeded only in “growing” people a few inches tall. He explains how his dream is to create a man-made race of creatures upon the earth. Male and female.
To create a woman he goes on.., “That would be really interesting…”
The Monster meanwhile is discovered to be still alive and roaming about the countryside. He’s again pursued by an angry mob and captured, though not for long. He soon breaks free from his chains and prison and escapes into the woods again. Meeting a old blind hermit, he’s shown unknown kindness, tolerance and friendship. He’s even taught some basic speech by the old man.
The idyllic friendship is not to last however as two hunters come calling and force The Monster to flee.
Stumbling through a graveyard, he finds an entrance to an underground tomb. By sheer chance, Dr Pretorius is there as well to search for parts for his new endeavor. The two meet and Pretorius explains that he’s going to create a friend for The Monster, like him.
After being wedded to Elizabeth, Henry Frankenstein is now reluctant to go ahead with any more experiments with the dead. Having foreseen this, Pretorius uses The Monster to try to persuade him. When this fails, he sends him to kidnap Elizabeth so as to force Frankenstein to agree.
A Bride is Realised!
They succeed in their unnatural deed. The Bride of Frankenstein is created. Her bandaged wrapped body given life by conducting the lightening which is raging outside.
As they stand her up and she see’s her intended mate, she pulls away and screams at him in disapproving fright.
So much for man and woman coming together in love!
The Monster is humiliated and enraged! He grabs hold of a lever which has the capacity to blow the whole castle up but tells his creator to go. To leave with his new wife and live. But, he say’s to Pretorius and his unwilling bride, “You stay. We belong dead”.
A great film by all accounts, though a little too campy and just not serious enough in my opinion to be deserving of it’s praise as a horror.
The film is admittedly much ahead of it’s time in featuring so many offbeat characters, satire and black humor.
Director James Whale definitely had a gift for bringing these elements to his movies. He actually believed the film could not possibly be as popular as the first movie, so he decided to make the movie a “memorable hoot”.
This would explain why there’s so much “playfulness” about the picture.
Featuring some terrific acting by everyone involved. Colin Clive, Karloff, Dwight Frye (this time as Karl) and Valerie Hobson are all fine but it is Earnest Thesiger (Dr. Pretorius), Una O’Connor (Minnie) and E.E. Clive with an all too brief role as the Burgomaster, who steal the show.
Playing the dual roles of Mary Shelley and The Monster’s Bride is Elsa Lanchester who is also marvelous. She’s truly picturesque as Shelley and very talented playing the part of The Bride.
Her quick, bird-like, glances were modeled on the behavior of swans which she observed in London’s Regent Park.
This was apparently also where she got the idea of ‘hissing’ at her imminent destruction.
That Iconic Hairdo
Modelling her hair style on Nefertiti, makeup director Jack Pierce used a wire horse-hair cage to have it stand vertical. The look is mean to represent, and be the result of the electric shock which ran through her body, bringing her to life.
Sadly, The Bride’s appearance is all too brief. Her character is absolutely fascinating especially in her disgust of “her man”, The Monster.
Music by Franz Waxman is featured abundantly throughout the film which is another element which improves upon the first Frankenstein. Waxman created three distinct themes for The Monster, The Bride and Dr. Pretorius. Each melody is amazingly descriptive.
Bride of Frankenstein from 1935 is of coarse, an ingeniously well crafted horror classic. It has a wealth of various themes and iconic imagery running throughout it.
But, as stated earlier, with so many quirky character’s and Karloff seeking to elicit maximum sympathy for The Monster, this movie leans more toward being an endearing horror-comedy than straight horror.
What do other’s think?? Please feel free to go ahead and leave some thoughts/comments below.