Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Starring: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Ernest Thesiger, Elsa Lanchester, Una O' Connor
Directed by: James Whale
Released by: Universal Pictures
Synopsis: Frankenstein's monster (Boris Karloff) is still alive and roaming the country, spreading fear and chaos. During his journey he learns about human compassion and cruelty, realizing that the monster may indeed be more human than anyone living.
Rating: They say that people never learn from their mistakes. While this train of thought applies to the characters in the movie, it doesn't apply to the creators of this movie. I felt they kind of missed the mark with Dracula, Frankenstein was an enjoyable piece of horror with a complex story and dramatic characters. So you can imagine my shock when I realized that Bride of Frankenstein tops it in every way imaginable. From the opening you will see that the film is inspired in its narrative.
One of the things that stood out the most to me in the first film is how human the monster was. He was imposing, intimidating and most importantly, frightening. But, he was portrayed as a victim to a world that never understood him and the mistake that was never meant to happen. Bride of Frankenstein goes even deeper into the heart and soul of the monster, once again played wonderfully by Boris Karloff. He goes from being a growling lost creature and turns into a man of some cohesive thought. He learns what love and compassion is and that first appearances are indeed valued more than what lies in the soul of the person. This keeps evolving until Frankenstein's monster becomes the hero, one that shows mercy towards his enemies and sacrifices himself for the well being of the world.
Less striking is the titular bride, played by Elsa Lanchester (who in a rather creative twist, also plays Mary Shelley, the original writer of Frankenstein, at the beginning of the film). While her appearance in the film is memorable enough that she has become an icon of her own, she is only in the film for a few scenes, and very little is done to her except being the element that angers the monster. Colin Clive returns to play Henry Frankenstein. Like the monster he created Frankenstein is now aware of his mistakes, and any experiments he makes he was forced to. This turns him into a grounded character, not unlike the mad man we met in the first film. This makes way for the film's real villain,Doctor Septimus Pretorious. Played by Ernest Thesinger, he is what Frankenstein was in the first movie times two. He shows far less contempt towards the ideas of life and death and really wants to play God. This makes him a despicable man that is worse than the monster people are chasing after.
The look of the first movie was basic in execution but created an iconic look that is still remembered to this day, and Bride of Frankenstein proudly continues that tradition. The sets are varied, giving us detailed Victorian homes in front of thunder storms, quaint forest cabins and threatening ancient castles. The monster looks the same as before, but the Bride looks a little bit wacky. It's a look that oddly keeps her beauty but gives off the fact that she is an inhuman creation. There is even some neat special effects when the doctor shows Frankenstein some of his creations.
Bride of Frankenstein stands as one of the best sequels ever released. It takes the winning concepts that made the first film a classic and polishes it to near perfect. Frankenstein's monster is a creature you will both love and fear and his story will captivate you till the very end.
Rating: 5 filmstrips out of 5