Film Review - Bride of Frankenstein

Starring - Colin Clive, Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester, Dwight Frye, Ernest Thesiger, Valerie Hobson | Directed by James Whale | Universal DVD FF Not Rated 75min 1935

Review By Xmortis

You just can't keep a good Monster down, as this 1935 sequel to Frankenstein shows. With most of the cast and director returning, this was a film that was destined to be as good as the original.

The film open with a group of upperclass friends sitting by the fire as a storm outside rages on. One of them Mary Shelly who speaks to her friend and husband of what has become of the Frankenstein Monster. The last flames are out at the old Wind Mill as smoke is rising and the villagers start back home when the man who lost his daughter falls into the ruins and finds out the Monster is alive and well. It once more escapes into the countryside. Henry is home with Elizabeth trying to shake off his attack and gets a visit from Dr. Pretorius who wants to work with Henry on once more trying to create life. Pretorius shows Henry that he has made tiny human life that he keeps in jars, and they talk about making a mate for his Monster. Once more the Monster is trying to do the right thing when he is shot in the arm and once more hunted down in the near by woods. He's captured and taken to jail where he sits chained to a chair, but with his brute strength he once again breaks loose and causes mass panic. While hiding in the woods, the Monster finds a hermit who lives in a shack and becomes friends with this blind man who offers him food, wine and warmth. The Hermit teaches the monster how to speak and how to act around people, but once more his happiness is shattered when people chase him away from his friend. The Monster meets up with Dr. Pretorius, and they both try to bully Henry into making a female monster so that he can have a mate. They use Elizabeth as a bargaining tool to make sure he does so. The Bride is born, and she wants nothing to do with the Monster. Instead she shows affection toward Henry, causing the Monster to go into a rage. Before he pulls a lever that will blow the castle to bits, the Monster tells Henry to leave with Elizabeth and blows up himself, the Bride, Pretorius.

This is one of those sequels that is on par with, if not better than the first film. That was rare back then and is still rare to this day. This time around James Whale directs a perfect mix of horror and comedy and once more uses shadows and darkness to his advantage when he needs to. The film takes place right after the events of the first film, and this time follows Henry as he is forced by evil Doctor Septimus Pretorius and The Monster into making a female for him to live his undead life with. The film is also filled with images of Christianity and in some scenes compares the Monster to Christ. When the villagers tie the Monster to a pole and hold him up for everyone to see, he is in a Christ-like pose. It's very strange yet very deep for the time. Colin Clive once more plays Henry Frankenstein, and this time around has lost his crazy side and is more filled with pity and remorse for the monster he's made, who he hates with all his life. Boris Karloff plays The Monster again and once more turns in a great performance that this time allows him to speak and stress emotions that before he had to use body langauge to express. But while it is cool to hear the Monster speak, I think I liked the grunting brute style a little better. When the Monster spares Henry's life in the end, it's amazing and speaks volumes for the already charming character. Elsa Lanchester plays the Bride and Mary Shelly. She is downright wonderful as the author and stunning as the undead Bride. She is the first lady of horror in my eyes and has the looks and talent to back up my claim. Ernest Thesiger plays Dr. Pretorius, the sinister mad scientist who is okay with murder if it means he gets what he wants, great performance given. This time around Valerie Hobson plays Elizabth, and while she's not as good as Mae Clarke, she still gives a good performance. Also it was nice seeing Dwight Frye once more. This time he plays a killer who gets bodies for the doctors. Once more the sets are great. The lab is a great now classic-looking one with sparks and tubes everywhere, and the village looks like it was recycled from the original. The woods are straight out of a stage play. This film is amazing and while some of the comedy aspects of it don't work, like Elizabeth's annoying maid, other aspects, like the touching story of the Monster wanting love, make this an iconic sequel that really does surpass the original in many ways. This is another film that is a must own for fans of old school horror and classic cinema. I would also like to note that the idea of opening the film with Mary Shelly and friends exposing that the first film and this one as mere stories was bold and puzzling. I am wondering if this was done to ease the horror of moviegoers in the 1930's.

Once more Universal delivers the goods on this DVD with some amazing extras that include a commentary with film historian, Bride of Frankenstein documentary, original trailer, production notes and cast and crew Bios. All are worth a watch and are amazing features to keep your Bride experience going a little longer.

Most horror fans will join me when I say that I would marry the Bride in a heartbeat and would also back me up in saying that this film marks the very peak of Universal Monster movies and helped make Universal a name in the world of horror. This is a prime example of sequels being able to work and make a story better.

Next up is "Son of Frankenstein," the third in the series and the final time Karloff would play the Monster for Universal.