Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Don't tell the Bride

By 1935 Universal had got the old gang together and James Whale, Boris Karloff, Colin Clive and Dwight Fyre reunited for The Bride of Frankenstein, a film with the reputation of being a sequel that outstripped the original.

Karloff''s Creature proves to be indestructible and his creator is also nursed back to life by his beloved Elizabeth. While the Monster is chased around the countryside Frankenstein himself is approached by the mysterious Dr Pretorius and finally agrees to work with him to create a female, but this time with a brain that Pretorius has somehow grown specially for the task.

While Frankenstein and Pretorius scheme the Creature is taken in by the blind hermit and gains the power of speech at the same time as learning the pleasures of human company and smoking cigars. Again the comedic elements are played up and these were later to be parodied with such success by Mel Brooks and his cast in Young Frankenstein. The decision to have the Creature speak is an odd one and it meant that Karloff had to wear his usual dental plate so his face didn't have the same sunken cheeked death mask appearance as in the original.

What elevates this film above all the others is two sequences. The first is the creation scene where John Fulton and Kenneth Strickfaden took all the electrical machines of the mad scientist laboratory and ramped them up to 11. James Whale uses Dutch tilts and fast cuts to produce a terrific cinematic moment which set the standard for all others.

The other perfect sequence is Elsa Lanchester's spooky performance as the horrifying and horrified Bride, with her strange twitchy movements and her unearthly scream when confronted with Karloff's grinning creature. She's only on screen for minutes but she dominates the film. It's a memorable ending for a terrific black and white horror classic which is well remembered for good reason. This one is the real deal with a perfect 5 flashing electrical stars mostly for the final 15 minutes which are the best thing in the box set so far.

Next up it will be time for Lon Chaney Jr to don the Yak hair and become The Wolf Man.

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