The Bride of Frankenstein

The Bride of Frankenstein ★★★★

Hoop-tober 2019 - 6/31 (Jack P. Pierce / Universal Classic)

Afterthoughts: An improvement on the first film, James Whale’s The Bride of Frankenstein is an absolute blast. With boundary-pushing violence, spectacular special effects and a monster that gains our sympathies tenfold, Whale’s sequel very much feels like the definitive Frankenstein film (I’ve now seen 9 Frankenstein movies, including Van Helsing and Victor Frankenstein).

There really are some truly impressive special effects in this, which include miniaturised humans inside glass containers, the destruction of miniature buildings and all manner of electrical effects.

The scene in which the monster meets the blind man playing his violin is pure magic, and so are the following scenes in which the creature is taught how to eat, drink, smoke and speak by his first ever friend. It’s so sad that these brisk moments of peace for the monster are abruptly brought to a halt as his pursuers find him once more, but it allows them to become more poignant, and we cherish them while they last.

I had expected the titular bride to feature for more than a more 5 minutes right at the very end, but her design is fantastic, with that crazy electrified hair with white streaks that captured the imaginations of horror lovers across the globe for decades to come. It’s amazing how iconic something can become from just a few minutes of cinema.

The main thing lacking in this film is a decent Dr. Frankenstein as Colin Clive (reprising his role from the first film) is not at all a good actor (at least not here). But thankfully, this is not his film, and when Whale does focus on characters that aren’t the monster, Valeria Hobson and Ernest Thesiger (a pre-Peter Cushing Peter Cushing, who I found brilliant, a typical ‘Michael character’ for me to enjoy) make proceedings more than watchable by overshadowing Clive. Una O’Connor is also fantastically funny in her small bouncy role as Minnie (I recognised her from The Invisible Man, and have also seen her in The Adventure of Robin Hood and Witness for the Prosecution).

James Whale’s direction, for the most part, is faultless. He really was a brilliant director, far superior to most of his horror contemporaries, and after three really strong classic monster romps with Universal, I’ll gladly watch anything with his name slapped on it.

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