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31 October 2011

Bride of Frankenstein (1935) [Horror Marathon] 34#

Directed by: James Whale
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Runtime: 75 Minutes
Few sequels reach the phenomenal success of this one, especially a horror one. The sequel to James Whale’s marvellous horror classic “Frankenstein” is a film that boasts emotion and sits next to the original practically towering over it. It has the perfect blend of humour, sadness, mystery and horror making it a film that dives in to the sophistication of Frankenstein’s creation in a glorious manner. This is truly one of the greatest sequels of all time, and assumingly the greatest horror sequel. 

Surviving the windmill fire that brought the original 1931 Frankenstein to a close, the Monster (Boris Karloff) quickly revives and goes on another rampage of death and destruction. Meanwhile, his ailing creator Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) discovers that his former mentor, the demented Doctor Praetorius (Ernst Thesiger), plans to create another life-sized monster -- this time a woman! 
Four years has passed since the original film and a few changes have been made in the film industry, by that I mean the production code of 1934. At this stage, director James Whale was given more freedom and control over the film rather than having executives over his shoulder, which lead to the film being expressionistic, vibrant in narrative and character and full of beautiful photography. It all leads to this film being the perfect example of a superior sequel.

The sets were glorious and even more expressionistic than the previous films. Among the film’s dark design and glum exteriors, you are warped in to the world of the film. The beautiful photography throughout the film stands above the photography in the first film and this is because Whale was given more creative control over the film, and a great sum of money. Using creative talent and money the film ended up featuring some of the greatest set designs to be featured in a horror movie. The graveyards, he forests and even returning to Frankenstein’s castle. 
The reason “Bride of Frankenstein” is so acclaimed as being better than the original, is because of how emotionally sincere it is. In the scene were the monster wanders in to the house of the Hermit, the emotional warmth created is overwhelming. Here we have the monster shown as a misunderstood and lonesome creature. The hermit is blind, the monster a mute, and both seek friends very much. It is truly one of the most beautiful scenes ever to be created in a horror film and is what leads to the film being so wonderfully vibrant. It resembles humanism, compassion and exception. 
This sequel dives in to the sophistication and emotion of the monster, which is why Frankenstein is one of the ultimate movie monsters. The film’s sheer emotion and elegance has a real impact on your viewing because of how much more is elaborated on.  While having so much drama and emotion, this sequel has a perfect blend of humour. With an excellent supporting cast, including Una O’ Connor, “Bride” is a self-parody work of genius. 
Boris Karloff once more as the monster was excellent. Karloff disagreed with the monster speaking because he believed it would damage the alien outsider characteristics of the monster. Well, history has proved that wrong because the use of speech here shows the monster adapting, learning and interacting with the other characters using basic dialogue. All of the acting in the film was firt class. Colin Cline returns as Frankenstein like a saint and his wife Elizabeth (Valeria Hobson) was a great supporting character.
The one character who made a big impression on the film was Dr Praetorious, a queer (weird), frightening and crazy man who arrive at Frankenstein’s house with a proposition of experimentation. In the film, we see Praetorious in moments of humour, such as the scene in which the monster meets him unexpectedly. Praetorious is casual of his arrival and accommodates him with wine and a good cigar. The scene was humorous and is among the film’s delightful bits of comedy. 
When someone says name a female monster, the immediate answer will likely be the bride of Frankenstein. With her electrified hair, and lavishing face, she is the ultimate female monster to be created. The bride may only appear in the last 5 minutes of the film, but it makes for a glorious conclusion to the film. In the short appearance of the bride, Elsa Lanchester did an excellent job. You will always remember her scream and that little hiss she makes. 
The film ends with one of the most beautiful endings in horror history. With the monsters new ability to say simple words, we are confronted with a line that would become very renowned. “She hate me. Just like others”. Another line that would become known was, “You go. We belong dead”. In an act of sorrow and desperation the monster destroys himself along with his bride now convinced he is no longer worth living. The ending is overwhelmingly brilliant because of the emotion and sophistication it creates. 
Comparing it with its predecessor the film boasts more emotion, creates more sophistication and has a well-rounded set of elements from acting to set design, making it slightly superior.  This is one of the few sequels that get acclaimed as being better than the previous film and it is all understandable why.  Over 70 years later the film still has some cultural status and is still one of the most loved films. It is strange how Whale was never satisfied with his achievements, because there is not much that he could have improved on with his films. “The Bride of Frankenstein” is a near perfect gem of a film that should remain a classic for decades to come.

My Rating: 9.5/10


  1. yeah, i've heard many times over how brilliant a horror sequel this is, I think I'll give it a go after i've checked out the original Frankenstein film

  2. also, great review

  3. Nice work as always Thomas, this one does not particularly interest me, as I don't remember loving the original. Either way you wrote an excellent review!



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