Bride of Frankenstein
Warning! The Monster demands a Mate!
Year of Release: 1935
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 75 minutes (1:15)
Boris Karloff ... The Monster
Colin Clive ... Henry Frankenstein
Valerie Hobson ... Elizabeth
Ernest Thesiger ... Doctor Pretorius
Elsa Lanchester ... Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley / The Monster's Mate
Una O'Connor ... Minnie
E.E. Clive ... Burgomaster
Lucien Prival ... Butler
O.P. Heggie ... Hermit
Dwight Frye ... Karl
Billy Barty ... Baby (uncredited)
Walter Brennan ... Neighbor (uncredited)
John Carradine ... Hunter at Hermit's Cottage (uncredited)
One of the most popular horror classics of all time and an acclaimed sequel to the original Frankenstein. The legendary Boris Karloff reprises his role as the screen's most understood monster who now longs for a mate of his own. Colin Clive is back as the overly ambitious Dr. Frankenstein, who creates the ill-fated bride. Directed by the original's James Whale and featuring a haunting musical score, The Bride of Frankenstein ranks as one of the finest films not only of the genre, but for all time.
Bride of Frankenstein, remindin' all the depressed, lonely souls out there that if a friendly person finally steps into your life, it's almost certain they're secretly monsters an you're just too blind to see it.
Speakin' of personal Hells though - this scheme I concocted wherein I'd go to the Videodome an perform work in exchange for money is really startin' to cramp what, for want of a better term you'd call my style. My psychological grip on Edgar Mastrude's insecurity is gettin' more tenuous by the day an I think Bambi knows it; the dumb bastard's really turnin' into a true believer when it comes to the "sanctity" of their relationship just cause some religious guy in a fancy painter's smock pronounced 'em "man and wife," an things're startin' to get a little outta hand. Honestly I thought Bambi's libido woulda caused Edgar's 47lb heart to explode by now, but thus far he's proven surprisingly durable. Now Bambi thinks she can just walk into the Science Fiction section an boss me around like an illegal farmhand with all these "other duties as assigned," which is basically what happened this past Thursday evenin'.
"Hey stud muffin, I'ma need you to come by the house after work tonight, I gotsa problem only you can help me with," she eventually spits out between the snappin' of 'er gum. I been meanin' to have a talk with Edgar about addin' a sexual harassment clause to the employee handbook, only we'd hafta get an employee handbook first so that's not likely to go anywhere.
"Can't you just use Craigslist for that like everybody else?" I asked. "Billy Hilliard's goin' for the high score on Asteroids tonight an I promised I'd be there to sucker punch Dusty Funk if he gets obnoxious an starts in with the 'don't mess up!'s while Billy's tryin' to concentrate."
"Yeah well, tough titty. I need an expert, and ain't nobody in 100 miles seen Poltergeist as many times as you have," she declared.
"I ain't dressin' up like Reverend Kane an paddlin' yer hiney anymore Bambi, that was a *long* time ago," I told 'er; sometimes a man's gotta put his foot down.
"You will if I tell you to. But that's not what I had in mind - I got somethin' freaky goin' on up in the attic and I wanna know what I'm up against before I call in Reverend Dollarhide to exorcise it. Sides, I ain't about to clean the house less'n someone important's comin' over," she explained.
"Then call the fat doofus an the little nervous guy from Ghost Hunters; I dunno nothin' about that stuff," I lied.
"Listen babe, either you do it or I start runnin' Christmas movies in here from now until New Year's," she threatened.
"Can I pick the movies?" I asked pitifully.
"No - we're talkin' Hallmark Holiday Theater, bub," she said with this look on 'er face like a judge that'd just sentenced a man to death row.
"Couldn't you just pluck my eyes out an stuff 'em in my ears?" I tried negotiatin'.
"Nuh uh. 9:30 sugar tush, don't be late," an off she went, to do whatever it is white-trash stay-at-home moms do - prolly watch People's Court an chew 'er toenails I imagine.
She had me dead to rights, I mean, I consider myself a fairly tough guy, but can't nobody withstand 90 straight days of Hallmark flicks an survive. Still, if you think I was goin' into Bambi an Edgar's place without takin' some precautions you can pack that up an mail it to Nova Scotia. No way - I called up Sadie Bonebreak an got her to come with me, an Bambi was more'n a little P.O.'d about it.
"What's *she* doin' here?" she says, makin' this face like she'd just gotten a whiff of the dumpster behind the Rural Mural.
"She's my date; what the hell you think she's doin' here?" I snarked. "Way I figure it, subjectin' 'er to you is my best shot at turnin' 'er straight, an besides that, with *you* around in a private place I wanted some protection," I added.
"I don't need nothin' you got," she squinted. "Attic's upstairs," she gestured helpfully.
"The hell you say!" I fired back as Sadie an me started ascendin' the stairway to certain asbestos induced doom.
We spent the next two hours in lawn chairs waitin' for somethin' to happen while some lunatic on Coast to Coast AM relayed this story to George Noory about bein' on the run from a race of highly advanced outer space fungus people who were tryin' to harvest his DNA to create a master-race of superhuman hillbillies. Only supernatural occurrences we heard in the attic were the noises waftin' up outta the heatin' vent from Edgar an Bambi's bedroom - sounded like a seagull tryin' to swallow a severed octopus arm that wasn't quite ready to be digested, an as a result I'm pretty sure we're both asexual now. Eventually Edgar squealed "mercy!" an the commotion died down, but about twenty minutes later we started hearin' this sound like a doberman tearin' up a roll of Reynolds aluminum foil an... well, I mighta gotten a little spooked an grabbed Sadie by the first thing I could get my hands on. Sadie was a good sport about it though - she eventually made sure I was okay after she head-butted me right square in the nose, an once the bleedin' stopped we slowly crept over to the source of the sound to investigate. We'd just about pin-pointed the cause, when outta nowhere Bambi flings the door open - nekkid as the day God made 'er, an screams: "That's it! Did you hear it?!"
Course by then the sight of Bambi's C-section scar an the glistening Chester's Chicken grease handprints on 'er tubular bells'd caused my brain to temporarily blind me so's to prevent any permanent psychological trauma, an all the while this noise's gettin' louder, fadin' away, an then repeatin' the pattern.
"For cripes sake Bambi, get a muzzle on those things! I may never enjoy a drive-in movie again!" I squalled, gropin' blindly for Sadie's arm. "Oh God it's so dark! Drive-In Jesus, restore vision to this unworthy vessel!" I cried to the ceiling.
"You'd be beggin' for this if *she* wasn't here you big phony," she said as she wrapped 'erself up in an old ratty curtain.
Then all the sudden Sadie completely loses it an starts cacklin' hysterically until eventually my vision returned (praise Drive-In Jesus!) an I see 'er holdin' this vibrator wrapped in crumpled up newspaper just shakin' to beat the band. Apparently Bambi'd never bothered to unpack it after movin' in with Edgar, an somehow it musta rolled onto the vent an gotten its switch stuck halfway between the "on" an "off" settins; occasionally kickin' on an rattlin' like hell at random.
"For cryin' out loud Sadie don't touch that, you know exactly where it's been," I retched.
"Nowhere you haven't been," she rudely reminded me.
"Whaddya think Bambi? You spoze Penthouse'll publish our letter?" Sadie giggled, like this was some kinda joke, an bizarrely, Bambi suddenly saw the "humor" in the situation an busted out laughin' right along with 'er. Obviously there was some kinda X-chromosome-only twat-comedy goin' on that I couldn't possibly understand, so I got my hinder back to the Topaz an split. The heck with both of 'em.
I'd sue the pants offa Bambi for emotional pain an sufferin', cept then she'd have no pants an the sight of that'd prolly cause a region-wide impotence epidemic. Guess I'll just hafta continue workin' through the Vietknob flashbacks with heavy doses of Pole Cat beer an Scream Queen flicks. Unfortunately by the time this happened I was already workin' on a review of Bride of Frankenstein an so I hadda down about nine cans of Pole Cat an watch four Marilyn Chambers movies in a row to get halfway functional, but I should be okay long enough to tell ya all about the flick now. A lotta people actually think Bride is better than the original Frankenstein, an I guess I'm one of 'em based upon the writers rememberin' to have some stuff happen this time around. They even let Boris talk in this one an everything - so even though it's a moldy oldie, I've got hope for this flick, an just to show that I'm puttin' my best 22" Frankenstein Monster foot forward, I got three undeath-affirming lessons I'm gonna stitch together to make a spiffy collage de knowledge for all the scoffers out there who think I can't appreciate an art film. First, sometimes the malfunctioning sump pump in the basement can be the difference between life an death... or at least death an undeath. Second, grave robbing and bringin' life to the dead wasn't a relationship deal-breaker in the 1700s. An third - anybody can play wingman at the bar, but it takes a true friend to cobble you a date together outta recycled bimbo bits.
The movie picks up where the first flick left off (least it does after three insufferable Shakespearean actors playin' Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, an Mary Shelley moon around an old Victorian mansion chewin' the scenery) with a buncha vindicated peasants partyin' like it's 1699 on toppa the charred remains of Frankenstein's laboratory. We got so many rubberneckers up here that Burgermaster Ronald McDonald hasta come out an shoo everybody back to their shanties with his Stalin-stache until he happens upon the corpse of the Frankenman. Needless to say, the doctor's body didn't hold up so well after bein' Frankensteinered off the toppa the windmill at the hands of his Jolly Green Client, an so Ronald hasta send the Hamburglar into town to let everybody know about the upcomin' fire sale at Frankenstein's office. Meanwhile, the father of the little girl who got pitched into the lake like a chunka stink bait on a trotline in the first flick falls face-first into the rubble an ends up in the lab's basement where the sump pump's broke down an caused the place to flood like the eye sockets of a middle-aged fat woman receivin' 'er first marriage proposal. Unfortunately the old guy's thirst for vengeance ends up goin' unsated, while his thirst for runoff water gets a little too sated after Boris lurches outta the shadows an drowns 'im like a sack fulla ugly kittens. Then Boris climbs outta the pit, pitches the guy's wife into the chasm, an scares the tar outta this creepy old Irish gal (Minnie) so bad that she goes half scooters an hasta run to the all night clinic for a handy to get 'erself under control. Eventually Minnie gets ahold of 'erself an heads for Frankenstein Manor to tell everybody that Boris's made like Dragonforce an lived through the fire an flames but nobody listens to 'er cause she's Irish, an next thing you know the doctor sits up like Michael Myers an explains that the rumors of his demise have been greatly exaggerated while Minnie starts screamin' like Carol Kane until everyone goes deaf.
The doc's fiancee (Elizabeth) ain't takin' any more chances; she starts makin' all kinda future plans while he's too busted up to fight his impending domestication, cept before she can charter a carriage to the chapel this gaunt old dude (Dr. Pretorius) drops by to see Frank an tells 'im he's been understudyin' the role of God too an that Frank should come over an check out some of his work before Liz neuters 'im an forces 'im to take a job at a law firm so they can move to the suburbs an get chips on their shoulders. That sounds alright to Frank, so the two of 'em head back to Pretorius' digs where he carries out Herve Villechaize's coffin an removes this set of commemorative glasses containin' all the characters from The Littles who've been dressed up like royalty so Pretorius can play live action chess. Impressively, Pretorius has managed to creep out a guy whose chief claim to fame is stitchin' the decaying bodies of cadavers together to make the world's stinkiest jigsaw puzzle, but Frank's still kinda intrigued by Pretorius' idea of tryin' to make a zombabe that'll do all the housework without chargin' a fortune on his Mastercard. Elsewhere, the stealth refrigerator has escaped detection an begun roamin' the set of Disney's Daniel Boone - just mindin' his own business, gettin' pissed at the sight of his reflection in the creek, when he happens upon this foxy sheep-herder who takes one look at 'im an dives off a cliff into the water to scrub 'er eyeballs clean. Boris hauls 'er out an tries helpin' 'er fish the bullfrogs out of 'er socks but all she does is scream like she's givin' birth to a Chrysler Newport an pretty quick two hunters show up an blast 'im in the bicep while the other runs to town to organize a social justice committee. As you can imagine, Boris' chances of a gettin' a fair trial are runnin' about even with your parents not embarrassin' you before prom, an it ain't long before the wise and learned mob of drunken concerned citizens shows up to mug Boris like a pack of horny high school girls at a One Direction concert an truss 'im up like a dead mule deer so they can carry 'im to town an lock 'im up in the dungeon like Princess Toadstool.
Boris remains bound for a full 15 seconds before he starts snappin' chains like Hercules an rippin' the cell door off its hinges in search of somebody who knows the Miranda warning, but mostly he just kicks a whole lotta village people hiney, which is completely understandable if you ever shelled out $7.99 for their Sex Over the Phone album. So with his right to counsel completely denied, Boris goes to spend some time in the wilderness like Walter Mondale after the 1984 presidential election an takes up with this blind old hermit who offers 'im some mutton soup an a psychiatrist's couch to sleep on. Next thing you know Boris is hooked on phonics, cigars, booze, an develops an appreciation for the musical arts, only John Carradine happens by an blows Boris' cover an pretty quick the cottage catches fire an the blind man's shanty goes up in smoke like a pound of Maui Wowie at a Grateful Dead concert. Boris is royally P.O.'d, so he goes rampagin' through the cemetery knockin' over headstones like drunk college kids in a stolen golf cart til he ends up down in this crypt where Pretorius an Dwight Frye're shoppin' for spare parts, an once Dwight heads home to the Missus, Boris an Pretorius hit it off an the doc promises to hook 'im up with some bitches in stitches if he'll offer his assistance. There's just one problem: Pretorius dunno the first thing about nerve reattachment surgery or preventin' organ rejection in skanky cadavers, so he has Boris kidnap Liz to blackmail Frank into joinin' his God roleplayin' session an pretty quick Frank's back in the ole re-animatin' saddle again; wirin' up hearts for electro-shock therapy, makin' insane mad scientist shop talk with Pretorius, an generally lookin' like a man who hasn't bathed in about six months - it's just like old times. Fortunately Frank has a greenprint to draw upon this time, so Dwight only hasta brain one hooker to gather all the materials they need to build Corpus Kristy, an as luck would have it the moment she's good'n sutured a storm rolls in an Frank orders Dwight to send up some Ben Franklin kites to get the juice they need. Really all they need from here is for Zeus to throw 'em a bolt, but I prolly oughta shut my trap before I go ruinin' the endin'.
Well, what say you? Better'n the original? I certainly think so, and while there's no singular difference that really cements its superiority, the thing that makes it so much more palatable to someone who isn't big on flicks from this era is the pacing. I'm not knocking the original for being slow mind you, because in 1931, with a plotline based around the creation of a monster cobbled together from the bodies of corpses, you just about had to ease audiences into it, and I think that with the events of the first flick in the book they were free to focus on the fallout from the creation of said monster without being restricted to a standard pot-boiler format. Additionally, despite being produced only four years after the original Frankenstein, Bride feels a bit more free-wheeling and even a little more modern than its predecessor, and includes some fairly macabre black humor that would previously have caused much more of a stink among the moral majority. The trade-off of shifting from a deathly serious tone to a slightly softer one between films creates an opening for the subject matter to branch out in directions it might not previously have done, and the result is a movie that's *almost* as dark in tone as the first, but which consequently allows, and possibly even demands, more depth from its characters, allowing the audience to see "evil" in varying degrees rather than absolutes. Frankenstein means well but simply doesn't know when to hang it up and is ultimately forced to return to his work when his fiancee is kidnapped, and the monster is strictly a product of his environment, as we see when he's left even for a brief time in the company of the kindly old hermit. Pretorius has no such silver lining - he's truly the ego-maniacal villain of the story, willing to resort to murder and kidnapping to achieve his goals, and these distinctions among the three make for a much more interesting character dynamic and complex story structure than that of the first flick. Karloff was actually against having the monster speak, but I think this is an instance where it's not only necessary for giving the character more depth, but it's also logical that, over time, the creature should learn to talk in the same way a child would. All that said, I think the story arc stays true to the original flick and expands on it in such a way that you're not likely to find anyone who loves one movie but hates the other, and that speaks to James Whale's ability to keep the plot evolving without ruining the mythos associated with his original beloved classic.
I have no idea what I just said, but it sure sounded good; meantime though, let's take a closer look at what's goin' on in this thing and see if the flick, like its monsters, amounts to a finished product that's greater than the sum of its parts. The plot, while losing some of the impact of the original on the basis that sutured corpses are no longer a new concept, builds and expands on the rock-solid foundation established by the first flick, while evolving just enough to give it its own identity. I particularly like the fact that it picks up right where the first one leaves off, and my only real objection is the tacked-on prologue with actors portraying the original story's author and her friends discussing the follow up story she'd apparently had in mind but never put to print. That scene feels really pretentious and incongruous with the spirit of the original flick and everything that follows it. It's as though they were trying to reassure the audience that despite the movie's subject matter it was still above board and intended to be enjoyed by "decent people." Then Ernest Thesinger starts questioning the legitimacy of stories from the Bible and it just makes you laugh since you now know those decent people've been completely buffaloed. The acting is top notch, just as it was in the original flick, the only downside for the sequel was the loss of Dwight Frye as the sadistic, yet pathetic hunchback Fritz. Frye returns as one of Pretorius' grave robbers here, but there's just not much for him to do with Clive, Thesinger, and Karloff soaking up the bulk of the dialog. Clive is a bit more restrained in this one due to the addition of the Pretorius character, but Thesinger really picks up the slack and puts across an excellent performance as the menacing, yet malleable villain who shifts his tone as needed to manipulate a cast that he views as pawns. The other excellent pickup in this one is Una O'Connor as the in-your-face, yet frequently hysterical Minnie. She's quite a bit goofier than Frye was in the first movie, but her performance here really boosts the entertainment value of the sequel over that of the original, at least in my opinion.
Here's who matters and why (less Boris Karloff, Billy Barty, John Carradine, and Walter Brennan): Colin Clive (Frankenstein 1931, Mad Love), Valerie Hobson (Werewolf of London, Life Returns), Ernest Thesinger (The Old Dark House 1932, The Ghoul 1933), Elsa Lanchester (Terror in the Wax Museum, Willard 1971, The Ghost Goes West), Gavin Gordon (Mystery of the Wax Museum, The Bat 1959, The Picture of Dorien Gray, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1931), Una O'Connor (The Invisible Man 1933), E.E. Clive (The Hound of the Baskervilles 1939, The Invisible Man 1933, Tarzan Escapes, Dracula's Daughter), Dwight Frye (Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, Dead Men Walk, Frankenstein 1931, The Ghost of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, Dracula 1931, The Invisible Man 1933, The Vampire Bat), Reginald Barlow (The Mad Monster, Werewolf of London, King Kong 1933), Mary Gordon (The Hound of the Baskervilles 1939, Mighty Joe Young 1949, The Body Snatcher, The Mummy's Tomb, The Strange Case of Doctor Rx, The Invisible Woman, The Invisible Man Returns, The Invisible Man 1933, Frankenstein 1931), Anne Darling (The Raven 1935), Ted Billings (Frankenstein 1931, Condemned to Live, Tarzan and the Leopard Woman, The Body Snatcher, The Invisible Man's Revenge, Horror Island, The Invisible Ray, Murders in the Rue Morgue 1932), Robert Adair (The Face at the Window, The Invisible Man 1933, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1931), D'Arcy Corrigan (The Last Warning, Murders in the Rue Morgue 1932, The Invisible Man 1933, Tarzan and the Golden Lion), Grace Cunard (The Mummy's Tomb, The Last Man on Earth 1924), Jack Curtis (Frankenstein 1931, Son of Frankenstein), J. Gunnis Davis (Werewolf of London), Elspeth Dudgeon (The Old Dark House 1932, The Woman Who Came Back), John George (Mesa of Lost Women, The Creeper 1948, The Black Room 1935, Mark of the Vampire, The Dracula 1931, The Black Cat 1934, The Monkey's Paw 1933, Island of Lost Souls, The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1923), Marilyn Harris (Frankenstein 1931), Carmencita Johnson (Frankenstein 1931), Rollo Lloyd (The Devil-Doll 1936), Murdock MacQuarrie (Cat People, The Corpse Vanishes, The Mummy's Hand, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1931), Torben Meyer (The Fly 1958, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, The Black Room 1935, Mark of the Vampire, Murders in the Rue Morgue 1932, the Last Warning, The Man Who Laughs), Charles Murphy (Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars), Joseph North (Werewolf of London), Tempe Pigott (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1931, The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1939, The Werewolf of London, Murders in the Rue Morgue 1932), Sarah Schwartz (Ghost Catchers, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man), Joan Woodbury (The Living Ghost, King of the Zombies).
Given the mainstream appeal of the Universal monster flicks I won't claim that the following actors are likely to be "better" known for their other more conventional titles, but if you're wondering what the normies might recognize these folks for, their additional credits are as follows: Valerie Hobson (Edith in Kind Hearts and Coronets, Estelle in Great Expectations), Elsa Lanchester (Miss Plimsall in Witness for the Prosecution, Katie Nanna in Mary Poppins, Jessica Marles in Murder by Death), Gavin Gordon (Linsey Marriott in Murder My Sweet).
As you've probably guessed - not a lot of special effects in a flick from 1935, and they're pretty much identical to those of the original, just with one additional monster. Karloff's makeup job is largely unchanged (if it ain't broke, don't fix it), although the Bride's makeup is a lot less horrific and consists entirely of a few stitch markings and that iconic hair-do. Same unconvincing ragdoll dummies as the first flick, plus one cheesy bat on a string, some well-executed composite shots involving the tiny people in jars, and a decent miniature for the opening sequence, but for its time Karloff's creature was probably *the* most elaborate monster ever put to film, and it's the main event as far as the effects go. The shooting locations aren't quite on par with the first film, and that can be summed up entirely by the loss of Frankenstein's laboratory - that set was, and is, one of the most iconic of all time, and even though Pretorius' lab isn't bad by any means, it's just not up to par with Frankenstein's. We do get a pretty good dungeon that's on screen for approximately 30 seconds before Karloff busts loose and goes rampagin' through the village, and the crypt where Pretorius first meets the monster is superb as well, but the loss of that lab does hurt a little when comparing the two side-by-side. The cemetery and the forest scenes with matte paintings in the background are less impressive, but still decent for their time. As for the soundtrack, well, we've actually got one. The first flick barely had any music, just as a consequence of being produced in 1931, but here we've got a fairly broad range of instrumentation used for a great deal of the flick's running time. We've got a harp, violin, piano, organ, oboe, flute, and probably more that I either can't discern or recall, and the scoring ranges from excellent somber scoring to cutesy, slightly playful stuff - all of which fit appropriately with their corresponding scenes and help to create an atmosphere that's less oppressive and decidedly quirkier than that of the original film. Overall, Bride of Frankenstein is probably my favorite of the Universal Classics (narrowly beating out Creature from the Black Lagooon), although my favorite moldy-oldie is still Freaks from 1932. Bride is just more accessible to a modern audience than the original Frankenstein, but the two are simply too intertwined to skip the first one, so while I'd still recommend watching them in their proper sequence, these two films are probably the best place to start if you've never seen the classics and are looking for a good place to dive in. Essentially, if you can't survive this one, you may as well abandon all hope of enjoying Universal's classic monster series.