Tuesday, October 4, 2022

31 Days of Scary Movies: “The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935)


 There are so, so very many bad horror film sequels out there. Some in franchises I love. But horror sequels were once done right, and perhaps none so right as arguably the first, most-high profile time: with “The Bride of Frankenstein,” James Whale’s sequel to “Frankenstein,” released in 1935. 

 I could not love “The Bride of Frankenstein” more. Normally, I save it for a bit of Universal Monster magic later in October; however, last night, I decided to indulge myself early on. What makes this film so special? Perhaps it is the inventiveness found all around. From the opening, when we are treated to a terrific scene showing Elsa Lancaster as Mary Shelly talking on a stormy night with her husband Percy and Lord Byron. Lancaster is fantastic as Shelley, as she spars with Byron and Percy, in a gorgeously decorated room. Working on her needlepoint, there’s something so impressively confident about her Shelley, and we fully believe that this is genius that wrote “Frankenstein.” 

 Other things that set this film apart. The actors. Karloff’s Monster is allowed to shine even more here, as he gets lengthy character driven scenes like the ones in the cottage with the blind man, and delicious straight up horror film scenes, like his emerging from the burned windmill in the beginning, where he sends the parents of the girl thrown in the water in “Frankenstein” to join her. Colin Clive is again perfect as Henry Frankenstein, aided with an assist by Ernest Thesiger’s Dr. Pretorious, a new, deeply comic, deeply creepy and deeply horrifying character. 

 The score is sweeping and even grander than the first film. The sets, too. The sets which excelled in “Frankenstein” are expanded, and absolutely lush, gothic and gorgeous. My favorite perhaps being the graveyard being literally expanded, from the iconic opening scene in the first film, and takes us down into the crypt where the Monster literally stumbles upon a dead woman and asks, “Friend?”

 And, of course, Elsa Lancaster is perfect to immortality as the Monster’s Bride in the film’s horrific, heartbreaking conclusion. What a gorgeous horror film, sequel, and artistic achievement in its own right. 


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