BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN

(1935)
With Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Dwight Frye, Edward Sloan
Directed by James Whale
Black and White
Reviewed by JB (previously published in a different form elsewhere)

This could be the start of something bad      THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, the best overall film in the entire Universal Monsters cycle,  picks up where the first film ends. Though we left the Monster for dead at the end of FRANKENSTEIN, it turns out that Frankenstein's Monster, like STAR TREK's Mr. Spock, never really dies.  Rising from the ashes of the burned out windmill, it takes him all of three minutes before he kills two villagers. Again, we can excuse these murders because of the circumstances. This is a monster that didn't ask to be created, has never been allowed to enjoy his new life, was almost put to sleep by Dr. Walden, was tortured by Fritz, rejected by his creator, chased with torches, nearly burned to death, trapped by a falling beam, and what happens as soon as he steps out of the windmill? Two villagers start pestering him!

     The villagers assume the Monster is roaming the countryside on a murder spree, but he is really only looking for a nice place to stay. In the most beautiful scene of any of the first three Frankenstein films, The Monster wanders by an old house and hears "Ave Maria" being played on a violin. Inside the house, he finds a blind hermit who immediately befriends him and teaches him basic words like "bread", "friend" and "good". The scene where the hermit and the Monster both break out in tears of joy is truly heartbreaking, especially since we know that happiness for the Monster is always a fleeting thing.  (This scene was hilariously lampooned in Mel Brooks' YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, with the always-superb Gene Hackman playing the blind man.)

     Of all the Universal monsters, The Bride has the least amount of screen time, and yet she is one of the most memorable thanks to excellent Jack Pierce make up and a wonderful performance by Elsa Lanchester. Dressed in a long white shroud, with her hair pointing straight up at the ceiling, she is eerily beautiful, but she doesn't think the same about her mate, The Monster. The site of him sends her into a panic, and it's no wonder that after all his heartache and sorrow, being rejected by the female created especially for him inspires the Monster to end it all by blowing up the laboratory. (A note to mad scientists - easily accessible self-destruct levers are a bad idea, especially if your ungodly creation has the brain of a homicidal maniac.) - JB

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