Revisiting Bride of Frankenstein (1935): Universal Horror Monsters Retrospective Part 4/7

Alice Oscura, Featured Writer

Plot: Both Dr Frankenstein and the monster are alive following their last brutal encounter. Whilst Dr Frankenstein is recovering from his injuries, his former mentor Dr Septimus Pretorius blackmails him into a partnership on a new experiment — they must now create a mate for the creature.

Review: I have to say that I’ve got some mixed feelings about this one, but apparently there seems to be a lot of hidden elements and messages that I may not be seeing. The film was subject to censorship during the production and did require several cuts. However, even after the final film was passed several countries either still had issues with the portrayal of certain characters and scenes or flat out refused to even show it. Fun fact is that Trinidad and Tobago (where Redmangoreviews is based) was one of the countries that refused to show it in its cinemas.

It’s sequel time, boys!

What I can say, just from pure observation, is that you can see that the cast really gave their best performances in this one. The film begins with the brilliantly shot opening scene of actress Elsa Lanchester as author Mary Shelly. Together with Lord Byron and her husband Percy they are discussing her horror story “Frankenstein” on a stormy night. Mary reminds them that the purpose of the story was not meant to scare but to impart an important lesson — the consequences of a mortal man who tries to play God.

She then reveals to them that there is more to the story, and as they sit closer to her the scene shifts backwards to the 19th century picking up where we see the windmill is ablaze and almost burnt to the ground, and Dr Frankenstein’s body is carried back to his family’s castle. Here the audience discovers that both doctor and the monster have survived! This is an excellent way of the studio being able to salvage the poor ending of its predecessor.

You have such lovely cuticles…

But here is one of my main issues with the film…the lack of screen time for The Bride! Call me crazy but I think if you have named a movie Bride of Frankenstein the title character should at least get sixty percent of the screen time, especially since the look of The Bride was so awesome! Lanchester plays dual roles as Mary Shelly and The Bride, and as the latter her subtle head movements to indicate an interest or confusion in observing her surroundings, and her extremely wide, expressive eyes captured my interest immediately. I also had to admit that I laughed a bit at the part where she finally sees the original monster and is basically terrified of him. It’s a bit ironic in a way but to be honest she is by far the better looking of Frankenstein’s creations.

However, I should mention that leading up to this point, which is the climax to the film, the plot focuses on the development of Frankenstein’s original creation, and his advancements and progress that he has made since the previous film. In Mary Shelly’s novel the creature is very articulate and vocal. As a matter of fact there are parts of the novel that are depicted as being narrated by the creature itself. In giving Boris Karloff’s monster a chance to speak via articulating a few words or short phrases it allows the actor to show more use of emotion, perhaps in a way to sensitise the audience and make them more understanding of the monster’s shortcomings.

I’m just a poor boy looking for a friend, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, can you do the Fandango?!

We experience the reversal of that tragic scene from the 1931 film where the creature is responsible for the drowning of a little girl to a scene here showing him saving a young shepherdess from drowning even though she is rendered basically hysterical upon seeing him.

But one of the more pivotal scenes that begins to bring about a drastic change in the monster’s behavior is the one where he encounters the blind hermit playing “Ave Maria” on his violin in the woods. Being blind, the hermit is not repulsed by the creature and upon hearing the sweet gentle music the monster is entranced. The religious hermit is grateful for the company having been alone for an exceptionally long time, while the monster craves the type of interaction that doesn’t spark his violent nature. When the hermit feeds him and puts him to bed, he begins to thank God for sending him as a companion and, overwhelmed with emotions, the hermit begins to cry. It is at this point that the monster himself is moved and lets silent tears trickle down his face before he falls to sleep. The hermit teaches the monster to speak, introduces him to wine and smoking cigars for enjoyment, much to the audience’s amusement. However, the monster’s happiness is short lived when he is discovered and is chased away once again.

Wait. Did I put on Bride of The Mummy by accident?

I should also mention that many have interpreted another particular scene that borders on the subject of necrophilia. After being chased the monster seeks refuge in an underground crypt and encounters the corpse of an attractive woman who most likely was only recently deceased. The monster looks longingly at the corpse for just a couple of minutes. In my opinion, I think that they read way too much out of that scene. One must keep in mind that the focus of the story has shifted unto the fact that the monster now craves a companion having been shunned by everyone, including his creator.

The main thing, however, that I have noticed the most about Bride of Frankenstein is that there are many unspoken representations and ways of interpretation.

The film was nominated for one Academy Award for Best Sound Recording and in 1998 was added to the United States National Film Registry. Bride of Frankenstein has also been identified as James Whale’s masterpiece and lauded as “the finest of all gothic horror movies”.

Alice’s Score: 6 out of 10

For Part 3 of the Universal Horror Monsters Retrospective series and my review of Frankenstein you can click here.

39AFB96D-4DEF-4DED-8DFE-3400E758CE9B Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump.

I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. You can find me as Dark Alice Reviews on Facebook, my Instagram is alice_oscura and my Twitter handle is @lise_veliz2. For more on me you can click here.