Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bride of Frankenstein turns 75

Today, what I consider to be an absolutely perfect horror movie turns 75. BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, a sequel to 1931's FRANKENSTEIN,  was released on April 22, 1935, a perfect blend of horror, humor, social commentary, art direction, acting, direction, writing, costumes, special effects and make-up, and one of the best and most memorable scores in cinematic history composed by Franz Waxman. 

Boris Karloff returns as the monster, and Colin Clive as the man who created him. Introduced this time is Ernest Thesiger who steals the movie with his campy yet threatening performance as Dr. Pretorius, who is a true mad scientist as opposed to the repentant Dr.  Frankenstein who has clearly suffered from a nervous breakdown. 

The film also introduces a new monster to Universal's cannon of iconic creatures, and it's first (and only long lasting) female monster. While it could be argued that Valerie Hobson, who plays Elizabeth, wife of Dr. Frankenstein is truly the bride of Frankenstein in the same way that Frankenstein is the scientist and not the monster he created, Dr. Pretorius christens the new creation, meant to be the monster's mate, "the bride of Frankenstein."

Given her roughly five minutes of screen time, the Bride is completely captivating. Elsa Lanchester based her birdlike performance on the swans in Regent's Park, London. The Bride's movements suggest a confusion of being brought back to life as well as brain damage. The Bride's overall look with her gowned bandage covered body, long neck, scars, wide unblinking eyes, capped with that shock of dark hair with it's twin white streaks, like a dark cloud releasing the twin bolts of lightning that brought her back to life, is completely striking, and as original and iconic as what Jack Pierce did when creating the make-up for the Frankenstein monster. It's impossible to imagine a way of depicting the Bride superior to what's here. 



Robert Pope said...

I second all of that! But why that big "leever" on the wall? Kinda like leaving a propane tank laying around the house with the valve open and a pack of matches nearby...

John Rozum said...

I've never understood the rationale behind any sort of self-destruct device.

"We should install one of those just in case we ever feel like blowing ourselves, and all of our expensive equipment and property to atoms."

It really bugged me in "Alien." The notion that this profit geared corporation would see any scenario in which their ore and equipment could possibly be salvaged less preferable than seeing it all destroyed, especially when they view the crew as expendable.

Dane said...

Lanchester really was wonderful. She put a lot into her performance that she didn't have to.

the4thpip said...

I thought it was nice that they gave Lanchester some extra screen time in the framing sequence, sans monster makeup.