Monstervision's Joe Bob Briggs Looks At

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

(From Joe Bob's Ultimate B Movie Guide)

movie poster By the time the sequel came out, Boris Karloff was so famous he was billed above the title as simply "Karloff," and Universal tried to drum up interest by not revealing the name of the actress chosen to play the bride (the credits say "The Bride . . . ????") and by promoting the fact that this time the monster would speak! There might be a little bit of a giveaway in the movie's prologue, however, in which Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley tells the pansies Byron and Shelley that "That wasn't the end at all" of her story. Playing Mary Shelley is Elsa Lanchester, to be reincarnated at the end of the movie as you-know-who.

Gay director James Whale camps it up, treating the monster as a Christ figure while shooting the whole movie in a dank, dark castle where everyone looks pasty and spectral due to the now cliched German Expressionist style necessary for all horror films. Yet it's very stilted and talky, as Colin Clive (as Dr. Frankenstein) and Ernest Thesiger (as the bitchy, cadaverous Dr. Pretorius) have endless debates about whether to re-enter the laboratory and unleash "a new world of gods and monsters." ("Perhaps death is sacred, and I've profaned it!")

The ending is great, but it takes a long time to get there. The music by Franz Waxman is the first full orchestral score written for a horror film, and Waxman was also the first to use the theremin, a contraption of Russian invention which used oscillating radio waves to make the surreal sound which would become a staple of horror films. Lanchester's Nefertiti-style look is credited to the temperamental Jack Pierce, who by now was Hollywood's king of special effects makeup.
Nine dead bodies.
One drowning.
Tiny beings in jars.
Angry villagers.
Death plunge.
Torched cottage.
Brain surgery.
Heart surgery.
Gratuitous gypsies.
Dungeon Fu.
Vigilante Fu.
With Valerie Hobson (later Mrs. John Profumo) as the whiny wife Elizabeth, O.P. Heggie as the old blind hermit who shelters the monster (played by Gene Hackman in Mel Brooks' spoof Young Frankenstein), Una O'Connor as Minnie, E.E. Clive as the burgomaster with the giant fake mustache.
And Karloff's first big speech? "Alone bad. Friends good."
Written by Broadway playwrights William Hurlbut and John L. Balderston (who had written "Frankenstein" for the stage).
Banned in several countries. 2 and a half stars

2000 Joe Bob Briggs. All Rights Reserved. Not an AOL Time-Warner Company in this lifetime.

Bride of the Monster (1955)

(From Joe Bob's Ultimate B Movie Guide)

Bela Lugosi's final speaking part, in a flick concocted especially for him by notorious schlockmeister Edward D. Wood Jr. Lugosi plays a scientist using atomic energy to do genetic research, assisted by his deafmute servant Lobo (played by Tor Johnson). The secret laboratory sits on eerie Lake Marsh, where people have been disappearing--some of them to become victims of Lugosi's experiments, others because one of his previous experiments created a man-eating octopus (a giant prop borrowed from Republic Studios). The local detectives, played by kiddie-party clown Harvey B. Dunn and son-of-the- executive-producer Tony McCoy, are stumped, but reporter Loretta King thinks she's on to something. Unfortunately, she has a blowout, crashes into the swamp, is saved from the monster by Lobo, taken to the secret laboratory and hypnotized. Meanwhile, a European vampire hunter (George Becwar) shows up to kill Lugosi, only to be disarmed by Lobo and fed to the octopus. Soon Lugosi has plans for the pretty girl reporter as well. Lugosi was nearing the end of his life, ravaged by drugs and alcohol, during filming; fortunately Wood doesn't believe in closeups. Original title: "Bride of the Atom." One Star

2001 Joe Bob Briggs. All Rights Reserved.

The Bride (1985)

(From Joe Bob's Ultimate B Movie Guide)

movie poster Dr. Frankensting (yes, Sting was cast as the doc) is messing around in his haunted mansion with some gauze bandages, dead bodies, and giant electric microwaves, and this huge lightning storm comes along and shorts out his laboratory and produces something so hideous, so frightening, so utterly beyond what the mind can imagine that you can hardly bear to watch him unwrap it from its mummy cocoon. It stirs to life, it begins to move, it blinks--It's Jennifer Beals, threatening to flashdance again. It's not Sting who runs away, though. It's the Frankenstein monster who knocks over chemicals, sets everything on fire, burns up the soundstage, and pretty soon he's off in Budapest, lost in a subplot with the great midget actor David Rappaport of Time Bandits.

So while the midget and the monster are off doing a circus act, Sting is trying to teach Jennifer how to eat, drink, ride a horse, talk and flashdance without a stunt double. She keeps saying "Who am I?", "What am I?", "Where am I?", and "Is my career starting again?" And then pretty soon it's time for the biggie--monster sex. But Jennifer can't handle it, because Viktor, the monster she was made for, is off in Budapest learning about life from a midget and so she has to wait an hour till the plot can get him all the way back into the movie. By that time she's almost lost her virginity twice, the midget's been murdered, and Viktor wants to burn down the set again.
Four breasts, including humongo fat-lady circus breasts.
One gallon blood.
Two beasts.
Head rolls.
Midget trapeze.
Gratuitous Geraldine Page.
Monster hangover.
Haunted mansion.
Stake through heart.
With Clancy Brown as the monster. Four stars

2000 Joe Bob Briggs. All Rights Reserved.

For this and other movie reviews by the artist formerly known as the host of MonsterVision, go to Joe Bob

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Revenge and Curse of Frankenstein

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