Bride of Frankenstein
Director: James Whale
Starring: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Ernest Thesiger, Elsa Lanchester
She hate me.
Universal wanted the sequel to Frankenstein immediately after the film was a hit. However, the film took years to get off the ground. James Whale was reluctant to helm another, feeling that he'd said just about everything he'd wanted in the first film. He may have also felt the "monsters" fatigue after doing The Invisible Man, too. Script after script was rejected until something caught his eye with one, when someone took an idea that was introduced in the book but not really explored. The idea of creating the monster's mate was something that sort of set Whale off on a path of creativity with this story again finally got the ball rolling.
Bride is definitely the direct follow up to the first film, but like the Evil Dead movies would do down the road, it would set itself up a little differently in order to make the film it wanted to. Bits of the finale are altered, like Henry Frankenstein's father being nonexistent in this film and the final "tag" scene being pretty much ignored or thrown out. That's all fine and you really won't care, as this film, though being a sequel is its own thing and can stand on its own lunky feet quite well.
Previously, the first film opened with someone coming from behind a curtain and warning everyone of how spooky the film they were going to watch was. Well, here is another weird opening scene with author Mary Shelley discussing with two guys about the events of the last film (Remember, there wasn't any way to view these on video or on TV even, so the recap was necessary). She lets these gents know that there was more to the story and off we go. So, maybe, things are different from the end of the last movie because we have a different interpretation? Anyway, she's played by Elsa Lanchester who will also show up as The Bride at the end of the film.
From that open, though, its a little goofy, but we just know something is going to be different about this movie. Its a special, fantastical film, with a wonderful sense of weirdness that polishes up nearly every bit of this film. We get a new character, Dr Pretorius, and with him comes all the eccentricities that give this film its vibe and thematics. He's an old chum of Dr. Frankenstein and both couldn't be more the opposites of one another, but each carrying a similar goal and enthusiasm on one another's achievements. This movie also carries with it a sense of humor that wasn't present in the first film. You'll get an idea of it right away, which maybe on a first time viewing could be a little jarring, but it actually works quite well.
Boris Karloff, while a bit hesitant about it, was able to add further dimension to his character of the monster. This time around he's learning much more and trying to fit in and find his place in the world. Albeit the movie takes place on a short amount of time, but all this is there. The monster even begins learning how to speak, which is both funny and terrifying at times as well. Whale also shoots some incredibly dreadful and intense "horror" sequences in the film as well that are just outstanding.
Not only does the monster get to evolve his character, but the make-up on him does as well. As is something Hammer Dracula and Jason Voorhees would take from this, his appearance has the wear and damage carried over from the previous film. His clothes are beaten up and shredded. His face features injuries and burns from the windmill fire. The hair closest to his forehead has been burned on cinged away. The make up and the effects work on this film are tremendous. We not only get another iconic monster in the film, but the scene with the little people that Dr. Pretorius has is a wonder and still holds up today.
The Bride of Frankenstein. I have been in LOVE with her look for most of my life. What a badass looking monster design. And she's creepy as all hell too, especially that damn hiss. She's been a HUGE feature when it comes classic monsters. And its kind of a shocker as she doesn't in full form as we know her until the final FOUR minutes of this film and never returns to any monster picture after. I'm not complaining, this film works perfectly, and her character rocks. I'm just saying, when people complain about something like Jason Takes Manhattan and he doesn't do it until the last 20 minutes or so of the movie...look at this one. What the title promises and poster shows, doesn't happen til there is 4 minutes remaining (including end credits).
As reluctant as he was to make it, James Whale crafted ANOTHER masterpiece with Bride of Frankenstein. Its a weird little film, but man is it ever a wonder to watch. The sets, costumes, make-up are all amazing. Performances at top flight here for horror too (Even Colin Clive, who looks like shit because he was battling alcoholism, works well). This is one of cinema's greatest sequels of all time and maybe one of the first ever "great" sequels. I could see how this one may have been polarizing at the time and taken years to warm up to, but every bit of this movie is so much different than the first one, its well on its own right. Its a film that I have no problem calling beautiful, bizarre and fun.
NEXT TIME: YGOR!!!