I recently wrote an article presenting man’s desire for love and companionship as to the possible reason behind The Bride of Frankenstein being favored over its predecessor. However, in this review, let’s not dig so deep. Another valid argument could be that the monster himself gets much more screen time—starting nearly right away. We get to see him interact, kill, learn, smoke, drink and then be rejected by his arguably hot would-be female companion.
The movie begins with bride actress, Elsa Lanchester, playing the role of Mary Shelley, as she tells her friends that the Frankenstein story she had penned didn’t end where they thought it did. This segues into the meat of the film.
In the audience’s eyes, the Frankenstein monster from the first film was nothing more than an unfortunate and misunderstood man-made creature. Never meaning anyone real harm. However, this movie temporarily drops the innocent act, as the monster starts right away with a murderous rampage and outright kills the first two people he sees, as he pulls himself from the wreckage that buried him at the end of the first film. We momentarily drop that sympathy we once had for the monster only to later return to those old empathetic feelings, as he struggles to accept himself and find companionship in someone…anyone!
Meanwhile Dr. Frankenstein is coerced, though unwillingly, by his old mentor, Dr. Septimus Pretorius, into continuing the experiments, in particular providing a mate for the monster.
While Frankenstein’s monster was nothing but a shambling potpourri of dead body parts in the first film, here he begins to learn bits of the English language as well as lessons on the local culture when he stumbles across an old blind man. Because the man is unable to view the monster’s hideous appearance, he invites the monster in and they make a party of it—complete with smoking and drinking. Now normally I would have chalked up the hand-rolled smoke as tobacco, but it seemed it held a wacky component when after a few puffs the monster goes from excited to calm in a second’s time, entering a trance-like state as a result. Later on, Dr. Pretorius would use alcohol as a lure, coaxing the monster out of the lab using a bottle of whiskey like a carrot on a stick. The poor guy is “alive” for only a few days and they’re already corrupting him.
It isn’t until the end of the fairly short film that we get to see what the monster would hope would be his companion, a friend—the bride. However, upon first sight of the monster, his female counterpart shrieks in terror like everyone else he has run across. While now dealing with the rejection of the one thing he thought would accept his puzzle-piece of a body, he decides to end it all by throwing a switch within the lab that would blow it up. Before he sheds a tear and pulls the said switch, the monster pleads with his creator and the creator’s new wife to “Go! You live!” and declares “We belong dead,” referring to himself, the undead bride, and Dr. Pretorius.
Every fan of the genre should see the classics, but I’m with most when I deem The Bride of Frankenstein superior over the original Frankenstein. I’m not sure I’ve ever run into anyone who has not chosen this film over the original. Again, my guess is more screen time from the monster. Any chance we get to see Jack Pierce’s amazing makeup job is a real treat.
Watch the trailer: