31 Weeks to Halloween: The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
"If you have a weak heart, better leave now because Frankenstein returns! In search of a bride!"
As we continue to countdown the weeks until Halloween 2020, it's time for our fifth movie as part of our 31 Weeks to Halloween series, where we're checking out all 30 of the classic Universal Monsters films - in order! This Saturday's film goes all the way back to 1935, and is possibly one of the best done sequels to any horror film ever: The Bride of Frankenstein! The 1931 Frankenstein film is the monster movie that did it for me growing up, and even to this day, I still defend that fact to the death. But what Universal Pictures did with The Bride is just brilliant. The original film terrified audiences as The Monster - created from the bodies of the dead - brought dread to the streets as he killed, fought, and mumbled his way around the small village. But in The Bride of Frankenstein, we see a very different, more mature, more intelligent version of The Monster that we didn't see in the previous film - and I think that plays a big part in why this film is just so, so good. Suddenly seeing this terrifying monstrosity smiling, talking, and smoking cigarettes instead of being chased with pitchforks and fire tells a very different story than what we saw in Frankenstein, and his desire for friendship makes this film a bizarre, feel-good horror if there ever was one! Fantastically told and produced, the story in The Bride of Frankenstein makes for a sequel that is just as iconic as the original film - a feat very few films in the history of cinema could ever accomplish.
The Bride takes place immediately after the original film ends (which I love when movies do) and shares the story of what happens after the windmill that contains The Monster is set ablaze. Surprise surprise, The Monster survives the manhunt and lives to continue his reign of terror upon the village. Dr. Frankenstein is obviously very regretful of his decision to reanimate the dead as he's created a murdering monster, and imagine his surprise when he finds out the creature survived the manhunt and is dead and well! The doctor is approached by his former mentor Dr. Pretorius who insists that Dr. Frankenstein follow him to his lab where he insists that the pair work to create a mate for Dr. Frankenstein's creation! Pretorius sees the intelligence that the creature is quickly building, and insists that he can be trained and taught to behave like a normal man - just with the body parts of the recently deceased. And so, as The Monster is out making friends and living life to the fullest (in 1899 life, anyway), the two mad scientists get to work on conjuring up a new science project: a female equivalent to The Monster, to be known only as The Bride of Frankenstein. What follows is the duos introduction to each other, and The Bride's rejection of the Monster as her friend - which ultimately leads to the doom, if you catch my drift.
I love the Bride character - her iconic look, her shrieks, her intense, psychotic head movements; they all work together to create this intimidating, fierce, yet innocent female of the Monster that is just flat out awesome. In this film, she seems like she'd be a perfect fit for the Monster and it would fulfill his desire to have a friend - let alone a female counterpart - unfortunately, he just terrifies her and she just yells a lot. But like I mentioned earlier, you see a totally different version of the Monster that you don't see in the original Frankenstein film, and I think that has always played a big role in why the reception of this film was always so overwhelmingly positive. Everything about the film is perfectly executed and does a great job at doing two things: continuing to show man attempting to play God by creating "new" life, and the desire for that new life to experience life; as for the Monster, that meant eating, drinking, smoking, and of course, being social with friends. The film is a fun, rewarding watch for anybody who adores the classic Frankenstein story, and the intense black and white scenes you'll encounter throughout the film are sick. There's some pretty intimidating profile shots of characters that are definitely freaky, and it's something you just don't see in movies these days - I guess maybe because it works so well with the black and white colors. The quality different in just the four years between the two movies is definitely noticeable, but don't let that fool you - this film feels like it literally picks up right where Frankenstein leaves off, and for that, this film is an absolute must-see for horror fans. Put it at the top of your life is you haven't seen it before - you'll thank me later. You'll fall in love with the characters from Frankenstein all over again - and you'll even learn to love one more this time around: The Bride of Frankenstein.