The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

The Bride

Much as Shelley Long famously pondered in Troop Beverly Hills: “What goes better with Hobos than wine?” I wondered: what goes better with Frankenstein than Bride of Frankenstein? The answer? Well, nothing!

I love Halloween for many reasons, but my favorite aspect is the privilege of seeing old horror movies in the theater. As with the original classic Frankenstein, I’ve never seen its sequel Bride of Frankenstein. The film pretty much picks up where the last one left off: we’re made to believe the monster has died in a fire, but we find out pretty quickly that’s not the case – it’s alive and even angrier than before.

Henry Frankenstein vows to destroy his abomination, until the strange Dr. Pretorius arrives on his doorstep insisting they not only foster the education of the monster, but create a mate for him! Henry can’t fathom the idea, but the strange doctor convinces him to come to his laboratory, where he shows him his very own creations. Pretorius believes the two scientists would make an unstoppable pair, but Frankenstein is clearly going to need more convincing.

Doctor Pretorius has a whole different set of experiments going on.

Meanwhile in the Burg, we get to see a more tender side of Frankenstein’s monster. Everywhere he goes, villagers run away frightened or shoot at him, until he encounters a blind hermit who obviously cannot judge him on his looks. The scene shows us that the monster not only understands the words people speak, but also the emotions they feel, and indeed feels them himself, as he sheds a tear as the blind hermit philosophizes about friendship.

It is worth mentioning that the interview with Sara Karloff (Boris Karloff’s daughter) that preceded the Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein double-feature, while mostly throw-away, did mention that Karloff did not like the idea of the Monster speaking in the sequel. Sara Karloff disagreed, and thought speech leant a new dimension to the Monster. I’m going to have to agree with her. While I liked the first Frankenstein quite well, Bride was at least a whole star better, in no small part because of the Monster’s more prominent personality. Also, the Bride looks badass.

The Monster’s ability to speak was not the only new dimension added in the sequel – another was humor. While it was present in the first (mostly with Henry’s father The Baron) it plays an integral part in the second. As a result the film manages to be lighter and heavier at the same time, Lighter because it isn’t taking itself nearly as seriously as the first, but heavier because it manages to tackle the Monster’s loneliness at new depths not reached in the first. While I think both are worth seeing, Bride was definitely my favorite of the two.


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