A frame-story summarizing the original before snowballing madness & creation-analytic Victorian/Old-Testament bedlam – with crass humor & striking bride design, TBOF basically proof-of-concepted an industry-changing idea: [good] sequels. 7.9/10.
Plot Synopsis: After recovering from injuries sustained in the mob attack upon himself and his creation, Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) falls under the control of his former mentor, Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger), who insists the now-chastened doctor resume his experiments in creating new life. Meanwhile, the Monster (Boris Karloff) remains on the run from those who wish to destroy him without understanding that his intentions are generally good despite his lack of socialization and self-control.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Official CLC Review
Sequels. Now such a ubiquitous concept, you can’t even walk into a movie theater nowadays without seeing several plastered across box office screens. But where did the idea to expand on the original’s feel and storyline (at least in a serviceably good way).. come from? 1916’s ‘Fall Of A Nation’ was the first to do it cinematically, with the idea originating hundreds of years before it in Gutenbergian print, but these were all pretty lazy/trashy cash-grabs meant on milking audiences’ penchant (and wallet) by simple mention of the premise alone – a lot in common with many sequels today but hear me out. One can easily argue the first (even decently)-GOOD sequel of All-Time is Whale’s 1935 The Bride Of Frankenstein – and rightfully enjoyed the riches and cinematic praise (albeit even a little too much) that followed for shaking the industry by showing studios you can make a sequel that achieves its box office additions while expanding, adding, or even one-upping the original. A frame-story summarizing the original before snowballing its madness & creation-analytic Victorian/Old-Testament bedlam – w. crass humor, great technical work, & good Elsa bride, TBOF (despite some tonal goofiness distracting from the frightful realism & too little of the bride herself), TBOF popularized & proof-of-concepted an industry-changing idea: good sequels.
The sequel. The Bride of Frankstein’s instantly-visible and biggest achievement is that it feels distinctly like a continuation of the original. We’re even given a frame-story that summarizes with found-footage from the original it’s sequeling thrown directly into the film itself in a writer’s reminiscence motif. Continued is the original’s (overall)-dark tonal mix and phenomenal chiaroscuric location sets/cinematography, while it expands on the brilliant social narrative of man’s limits, beholder’s beauty as well as discrimination against a misunderstood monster who might not be all-monster, and the side-effects of trying to play God, this time creating the Eve to the original’s Adam. Snowballing its madness and Victorian/Old-Testament bedlam – with some great scares and violence like the opening water one and throwing Frankenstein’s minion off the damn roof (ouch! kind of karmatic though after he chillingly got a human heart a little too fresh for the experiment).
A humor and stylistically-sci fi injection with revolutionary technicalities. What’s most shocking about TBOF though is its snappy humour peppered in throughout – by Una O’Connor’s side-splitting Minnie who lights up the screen with her decibel-shattering yells and scampers and even some jokes. Karloff manages to infuse some life and proto-emotion into the dead mangled corpse-ridden Frankenstein as an impressive performance even arguably outdoing his work in F1 mirrored by his supporting cast with a fantastic addition in Thesinger’s mischievous Dr. Pretorius and the sci-fi is escalated to maddeningly-glorious proportions. The final recreation scene of the lightning storm and gadgetry stands as one of the best horror/sci-fi sequences ever filmed – done so with technically-revolutionary jump cuts and camera panning decades ahead of its time.
The flaws – inconsistent-tone and the bride. While the humor is a nice touch as belabored above – it’s way-overdone to woozying levels feeling almost more like a comedy than horror inn parts. When you send a plate back to the chef or ask him to make a spin-off with a little different flavor to spice up the sequels/trilogy – you don’t expect him to pour on a bucket of salt or paprika, and it detracts and distracts from the story while also feeling tonally-inconsistent unable to pick a lane to stay in. Finally, Elsa Lanchester’s bride is FANTASTIC (while also intriguingly-casted as the same actress to play Mary Shelley the author in the prologue, perhaps insinuating she had dreamed herself as the bride commenting on the dark side of the imagination and writers’ transportive means into their stories?), yet cruelly given one of the biggest blue-balled bait-and-switches in the entire filmic medium’s history. The movie’s literally called The Bride of Frankenstein, yet we only actually see her (in glorious staring macabre with perfection in look) for mere seconds of screen-time.. MAX?! That screen-time is not even used very constructively outside of her twisted head shakes rattling with horror – in that she doesn’t even say or do anything really, except scream at the sight of Frankenstein himself, which makes little to no sense as she’s dead/undead too and they look positively matched. What a waste.
Overall though, The Bride Of Frankenstein is still one of the top – and easily most important – sequels in movie history. Its problematic ending only featuring the bride of its title for mere seconds of the hour and a bit of tonal inconsistency as torn between humor and horror as F1’s Doctor on whether to create his creation’s mate are detracting for sure, but it still manages to make another film that is distinctly lore-continuing while taking it in a tangy new direction also paving the way for sequel opportunism and imagination in the movie industry. A frame-story summarizing the original before snowballing its madness & creation-analytic Victorian/Old-Testament bedlam – w. crass humor, great technical work, & good Elsa bride, TBOF (despite some tonal goofiness distracting from the frightful realism & too little of the bride herself), TBOF popularized & proof-of-concepted an industry-changing idea: good sequels.
Official CLC Score: 7.9/10