Friday, October 28, 2005

31 Days of Des' Horror Favourites: #4 The Bride of Frankenstein

Why I like it: This has got to be the best example of a sequel. In so many ways it outdid its predecessor (1931's Frankenstein in case you didn't know). It took the mythology of the Universal monsters universe and cemented it into the minds of movie fans forever.

James Whale really went to town on this sequel mixing 19th century and 1930s technology and fashion to create the distinctive Universal monster movie look.

Boris Karloff's status had solidified so powerfully in the American psyche that Universal was now billing him by last name only: Karloff! God! I wish I was named Karloff.

Elsa Lanchester, who plays both Mary Shelley and the Bride, was also quite a movie star in her own right. Colin Clive again starred as Dr. Frankenstein in this film as it was the original that jetted him to stardom (7 films in 1935 is a lot even for the 30s).

The story, setting the watermark for millions of sequels to come, explains the ludicrous survival of the first film's two main characters. As you recall, Frankenstein ends with a burning windmill and the doctor and his creation burnt alive inside it. Right?

Nope. And since it is actually Mary Shelley who tells the story to Byron and her husband she knows the real story. Since she wrote the book they're adapting so faithfully...(putting the irony away for a while).

Dr. Frankenstein survives a fall from the windmill and, being forgiven by the angry mob for creating a murderer, plans his wedding. The monster has an even more spectacular story. He not only survived the fall from the windmill but ended up landing in an underground river! Well, better wander the countryside and kill people again.

Dr. Frankenstein is blackmailed by an even madder scientist (Dr. Pretorius) to create a mate for the creature and does so. When the female creature is created and brought to life she too rejects the hideous monster in one of filmdom's classic scenes.

What makes this better than the original is the fluid way in which Whale mixed classic terror, intense images and humour both campy and sophisticated and dark.

Check these out:
-Mad Love-Colin Clive in a supporting role in this movie that has Peter Lorre starring as an insane sugeon who replaces the wounded hands of a female pianist with those of a serial killer. Awesome!
-Frankenstein-The original is still good.
-The Son of Frankenstein-Another good Franie sequel. The monster is reduced to unthinking abomination but that's okay because Lugosi shows up as Igor and steals the show.The last time Karloff plays the monster.
-Frankenstein 1970-Karloff's back, playing the descendant of the mad doctor who purchases his own nuclear reactor to create another monster.
-The Black Cat and The Raven-Two Poe tales starring Karloff and Lugosi.
-The Mummy-Another classic Karloff flick.
-The Ghoul-Ditto.
-The Terror-Karloff meets a young Jack Nicholson in this underrated film.
-Gods and Monsters-Ian McKellan stars as James Whale in this interesting biopic.
-Mary Shelley's Frankenstein-Kenneth Branagh and Rober DeNiro in this movie that's a bit closer to the novel but not very good.
-Frankenstein Unbound-Roger Corman's awesome Frankenstein movie!
-The Curse of Frankenstein-Peter Cushing as the Doctor and Christopher Lee as the Monster in Hammer's first horror film and only really good Frankenstein movie.
-Young Frankenstein-Mel Brooks' best film. It is hilarious but often considered part of the Universal canon of Frankenstein films. Gene Wilder is the Doctor, Peter Boyle is the monster and Marty Feldman channels part Lugosi and part Peter Lorre as Igor.

2 Bitching, Moaning and Praise

Blogger Megan said...

Sigh, Frankenstein. One of my most favouritest novels of all time. It makes me cry every time I read it. This post also made me think of one of our frequented restaurants in Glasgow, Frankenstein-- which is NOT a theme restaurant!

2:11 pm  
Blogger Kevin Melrose said...

Bride of Frankenstein is one of my all-time favorite movies, horror or otherwise. A lot of the Universal monster movies are downright silly (and occasionally bad), but this one is good. Wonderful, even.

4:44 pm  

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