January 27, 2014

Movie Review: The Bride of Frankenstein

So, the other day I discovered that Netflix had a bunch of movies expiring in the near future, so I decided to take a day and marathon a bunch of them. This includes a few that I know I own on DVD. Interesting that even when I own something on my beloved physical media, I still check Netflix first. I am lazy. Anyway, I was also looking to wash out the bad taste left behind by I, Frankenstein, so I found a soon to expire movie that seemed like just the right one to do the job. It was none other than 1935's Bride of Frankenstein.



As I watched the movie, I realized something. I had never seen it before! I know! I was pretty surprised myself. It is one of those things, I was completely convinced I had seen it and loved it that I never gave it a second thought. Now, as I sat there watching it, nothing rang a bell. There was not one thing about this movie that seemed familiar. With that said, it was a pretty great experience as the movie is fantastic.

There is this perfect blend of horror, comedy, drama, and raw emotion. I really cannot get over the fact that I had not seen this before. Maybe I saw it so long ago I am just playing tricks on myself, I don't know, but either way nothing looked familiar and it was great experiencing it completely fresh.


The movie picks up at the end of the first film. The monster is thought dead, but Henry Frankenstein is found to be alive, but barely. Of course, once everyone (almost everyone, anyway) has left, it is revealed the monster is still alive, making his getaway into the forest. Meanwhile, Frankenstein is being nursed back to health. He is visited by a Dr. Pretorius who knows of what Frankenstein did and wants to use his work in combination with his own (you see, he has made his own little people, seriously).

As the story plays out, Pretorius wants to make a new monster, one with a brain that he creates. Of course, Henry wants no part of it. Fortunately, Pretorius has methods of persuasion. As you can probably guess, this creation winds up being the titular Bride.

While the story of the two doctors is a good one, it is the story of the monster that is much more interesting. He is no mere brute, sure he lacks true intelligence but he merely wants to be liked, he suffers serious loneliness and his rejection by his creator and pretty much everyone else has fueled his anger. We follow him and his interactions, his profound sadness is written all over his face. The monster is such a tragic creature. Watch his interaction with the shepherdess, he only wants a friend, but does not know what else to do when she screams. The best moments, aside from the climax, are those with the blind hermit. He is accepted and is happy, it is such a sweet sequence that is bound to end badly.


Karloff's monster is a tragic figure, a creation filled with empathy, and sadness that bubbles over with anger. No, it may not be terribly accurate compared to Mary Shelly's creation, but that takes none of the power away from this interpretation of a creation who cannot find his place in the world and lashes out at it.

There is another reason to love this movie, the effects. The makeup effects are first rate, the look of the monster is amazing, creepy, scary, yet so sad and alone. There there are the in-camera effects like the ones used to create the little people in the jars. While CG allows for a lot and requires great artistry to do well, there is nothing quite like practical effects like these. These in-camera effects bring a certain level of tangibility, they feel real and they are pretty amazing considering the time.

The bottom line is that Bride of Frankenstein is simply amazing. It works on many different levels and stands as an all time great. This is going to have to enter the rotation. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it.

Highly Recommended.


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