The original 'Frankenstein' is one of the most highly-regarded horror movies of all time. What a lot of people don't realize is that its sequel, 'The Bride of Frankenstein,' is just as beloved by many if not more so.
Immediately after the end of the first film, the villagers gather around the burned windmill, cheering the death of the monster. In the melee, Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) has been killed and the Monster reveals himself to be alive. Actually, the doctor comes to and also reveals himself to be alive to his beloved, Elizabeth (Valerie Hobson). Upon his recovery, Frankenstein vows to never attempt such a morbid experiment again.
Henry's former mentor, Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) comes knocking. He wants to create a mate for the original monster who is still wandering the countryside.
Let's see how that goes...
So, just like most of these old movies, this won't scare you in the least. The very idea of reanimating a corpse was surely shocking at the time of Mary Shelley's novel and even these movies, but modern audiences won't be won over with that angle. Instead, it's notable to point out how these movies have an overarching sense of sadness. The theme here is that of loneliness. In a strange turn of events, there is even a bit of slightly broad humor which mostly seems to come from some incredible overacting by town busybody, Minnie (Una O'Connor).
This isn't perfect, there is a lot of buildup to the bride-creation scene and we don't really get to spend much time with her. Also, I have to side with Karloff on the argument that the monster shouldn't speak. His speech is limited and never prolonged, but the inclusion of it at all is a little silly, though it does show growth and allows the character to be a bit more expressive. Also goofy is a scene involving tiny people who are the creations of Pretorioius. What was once an impressive visual effect really cheapens the film and feels like it would have been more at home in a Laurel and Hardy short. This last point is a fleeting moment, so it’s forgivable.
Criticism aside, there are some tremendously iconic and memorable images in this film. The Bride’s reanimation and a scene between the monster and an old blind hermit are among those. It is also speculated that there is wealth of social subtext woven within the story that you can identify and debate if you are so inclined.
Clive's reprisal of his Frankenstein role adds some much needed humanity to the film while the true mad scientist is Doctor Pretorius who steals the show. What needs to be said about Karloff? His image essentially created the modern perception of the Monster.
Special features include: a documentary about the film’s creation, photos and shots from the set, other horror film highlights and web content.
Whether you prefer the relatively grim and straightforward nature of the original or prefer the clever, nuanced and subversive nature of ‘The Bride of Frankenstein’ is entirely up to you. ‘Better’ is a very subjective term but it should be agreed upon that this film is the more fun viewing experience.
Not Rated 75 minutes 1935