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The Bride Of Frankenstein
IMDB Rating: 7.9/10 from 18 votes
Release: 6 March 1936 (Netherlands) /

The Bride Of Frankenstein

Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi
Director: Mary Shelley,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Dr. Frankenstein and his monster both turn out to be alive, not killed as previously believed. Dr. Frankenstein wants to get out of the evil experiment business, but when a mad scientist, Dr. Pretorius, kidnaps his wife, Dr. Frankenstein agrees to help him create a new creature, a woman, to be the companion of the monster. Written by John Oswalt <[email protected]>

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Critic Reviews


Their are few sequels that are superior to their predecessors, however, Bride of Frankenstein not only equals it's masterful original prototype Frankenstein (1931), but infinitely surpasses it in every way. Despite the first films reputation as a classic, it's honestly not quite as witty and is much too straightforward when being compared to much more satirical, Bride of Frankenstein. Not to mention, it lacks much of the sophistication in the effects and eccentricities that the immortal sequel possesses. Needless to say, both films are justly hailed as classics, but it's the immortal sequel where James Whale's combining of horror and wicked humour (and "hidden" inflammatory work) is expressed more clearly and more prominently.

After initially refusing to do a sequel to Frankenstein, director James Whale would eventually falter when Universal agreed to let him have complete artistic freedom. Production was much-publicised as early as 1933, however, Whale, who was following his towering success with Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and The Old Dark House, wouldn't begin working on a sequel until late 1934, which was originally entitled The Return of Frankenstein. The film was adapted by William Hurlbut and John Balderston from an incident from the Mary Shelly novel Frankenstein, in which the monster demands a mate. However, in the novel, Dr. Frankenstein creates the Bride, but instead of bringing the monster to life, he decides to destroy it, greatly differing the film adaptation from the novel.

Most of the original cast remained, as the film reunited Colin Clive (as Dr. Frankenstein) with Boris Karloff (as the Monster), but Mae Clarke, a blonde, who was dropped from Universal was replaced by then seventeen year old Valerie Hobson, a brunette (as Elizabeth). Clark was acceptable in the role as Elizabeth in the first film, however, Hobson excels when in comes to chewing up scenery; therefore handles the role much better in the sequel. Both Marilyn Harris (Little Maria from Frankenstein) and Dwight Frye (Fritz from Frankenstein) would return as well, but as different characters - Harris appearing uncredited and Frye appearing in another memorable role as Karl. Also, new characters were brought to the forefront: Ernest Thesiger (as Dr. Pretorius) with Una O'Connor (as Minnie) and Elsa Lanchester having a dual role (as both Mary Shelley and The Bride).

Unfortunately, Clive had suffered from a broken leg during most of the filming - a result from a horseback riding accident - and most of his scenes were shot sitting or laying down. However, once again, Clive did an absolutely incredible job portraying Dr. Henry Frankenstein and proved to be a perfect choice yet again. Though, for much of the film, he takes a backseat to the fine and unique acting of Thesiger, who gives an unforgettable performance as the "mad scientist" named Dr. Septimus Pretorius, who much of the film revolves around. There is a sexual uncertainty to Pretorius' character and many suggestions of homosexuality. With the films masterful blend of horror and black comedy, it's Thesiger who shines best and in many ways the film is stolen by him when he's seen on screen; the equally charismatic O'Connor works best when playing directly opposite of Thesiger.

Bride of Frankenstein is also presented with the same terrific German expressionist camera-work by cinematographer John J. Mescall, although reportedly drunk through much of the production, uses brilliantly effective camera movements and angles that added eminently to the creation of the Bride scene. Mescall also composed a number of bizarre and inventive angles that intensified Thesiger's skeleton-like frame and vivid characteristics aiding his already superb performance. Although for Karloff, the four hour makeup job done by Jack P. Pierce, which was blue-green in colour, gave Mescall nothing but problems. The film is also accompanied by a fascinating score composed by Franz Waxman, which is nothing less than a masterpiece of excitement and melody. Though it wouldn't be Waxman's most mature work, it most certainly remains one of his most famous and probably his most influential.

Much of the film concerns itself mostly with the Monster (Karloff) trying to find a place in the world and his growth; much of his character is seen as a humanely being craving for the company and acceptance of others but is mostly rejected. He fails to seek friendship with the young shepherdess (Ann Darling); with the Monsters experience in the first film with Little Maria, he knows that he must save her from drowning. Of course, everyone finds him too frightening, however, in one of the many incredible scenes the film provides, the Monster is eventually provided with sympathy and encouragement when he encounters the old blind hermit (O.P. Heggie), who becomes the Monsters first true friend. Karloff's performance is truly remarkable, as it was in Frankenstein. Although, he opposed that the Monster speak, his character benefits greatly from this, as he finds room to expand on his already brilliant craft.

The memorable sequence of bringing the Monster's Bride (Lanchester) to life is unequaled - even the original scene in Frankenstein pales in comparison. The presentation of the birth of the Bride is stunningly as well, as Clive exclaims: "She's alive! ALIVE!" Lanchester who only stood 5'4" tall was placed on stilts that made her 7'0" tall, as well as, her unforgettable shock hairstyle which stood up and hinted that the electricity had shocked her to life was held by a wired horsehair cage. Also, her darting swan-like movements were inspired by the angry swans in London's Regent Park. Although, the Bride's appearance is extremely brief, it's most certainly worth it, especially when she finally encounters the Monsters.

The macabre, satirical Bride of Frankenstein is a key film to the horror genre (perhaps the best) and one of the genuinely great films of any genre. It's one of the most wonderfully crafted films in cinema history and is easily lauded as Whale's finest screen hour. This one has rightfully deserved it's ranking amongst the best of what Hollywood has to offer.

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