Bride of Frankenstein (1935) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
270 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
The best of all Frankenstein films!
Ziggy544612 December 2006
Their are few sequels that are superior to their predecessors, however, Bride of Frankenstein not only equals it's masterful original prototype Frankenstein (1931), but infinitely surpasses it in every way. Despite the first films reputation as a classic, it's honestly not quite as witty and is much too straightforward when being compared to much more satirical, Bride of Frankenstein. Not to mention, it lacks much of the sophistication in the effects and eccentricities that the immortal sequel possesses. Needless to say, both films are justly hailed as classics, but it's the immortal sequel where James Whale's combining of horror and wicked humour (and "hidden" inflammatory work) is expressed more clearly and more prominently.

After initially refusing to do a sequel to Frankenstein, director James Whale would eventually falter when Universal agreed to let him have complete artistic freedom. Production was much-publicised as early as 1933, however, Whale, who was following his towering success with Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and The Old Dark House, wouldn't begin working on a sequel until late 1934, which was originally entitled The Return of Frankenstein. The film was adapted by William Hurlbut and John Balderston from an incident from the Mary Shelly novel Frankenstein, in which the monster demands a mate. However, in the novel, Dr. Frankenstein creates the Bride, but instead of bringing the monster to life, he decides to destroy it, greatly differing the film adaptation from the novel.

Most of the original cast remained, as the film reunited Colin Clive (as Dr. Frankenstein) with Boris Karloff (as the Monster), but Mae Clarke, a blonde, who was dropped from Universal was replaced by then seventeen year old Valerie Hobson, a brunette (as Elizabeth). Clark was acceptable in the role as Elizabeth in the first film, however, Hobson excels when in comes to chewing up scenery; therefore handles the role much better in the sequel. Both Marilyn Harris (Little Maria from Frankenstein) and Dwight Frye (Fritz from Frankenstein) would return as well, but as different characters - Harris appearing uncredited and Frye appearing in another memorable role as Karl. Also, new characters were brought to the forefront: Ernest Thesiger (as Dr. Pretorius) with Una O'Connor (as Minnie) and Elsa Lanchester having a dual role (as both Mary Shelley and The Bride).

Unfortunately, Clive had suffered from a broken leg during most of the filming - a result from a horseback riding accident - and most of his scenes were shot sitting or laying down. However, once again, Clive did an absolutely incredible job portraying Dr. Henry Frankenstein and proved to be a perfect choice yet again. Though, for much of the film, he takes a backseat to the fine and unique acting of Thesiger, who gives an unforgettable performance as the "mad scientist" named Dr. Septimus Pretorius, who much of the film revolves around. There is a sexual uncertainty to Pretorius' character and many suggestions of homosexuality. With the films masterful blend of horror and black comedy, it's Thesiger who shines best and in many ways the film is stolen by him when he's seen on screen; the equally charismatic O'Connor works best when playing directly opposite of Thesiger.

Bride of Frankenstein is also presented with the same terrific German expressionist camera-work by cinematographer John J. Mescall, although reportedly drunk through much of the production, uses brilliantly effective camera movements and angles that added eminently to the creation of the Bride scene. Mescall also composed a number of bizarre and inventive angles that intensified Thesiger's skeleton-like frame and vivid characteristics aiding his already superb performance. Although for Karloff, the four hour makeup job done by Jack P. Pierce, which was blue-green in colour, gave Mescall nothing but problems. The film is also accompanied by a fascinating score composed by Franz Waxman, which is nothing less than a masterpiece of excitement and melody. Though it wouldn't be Waxman's most mature work, it most certainly remains one of his most famous and probably his most influential.

Much of the film concerns itself mostly with the Monster (Karloff) trying to find a place in the world and his growth; much of his character is seen as a humanely being craving for the company and acceptance of others but is mostly rejected. He fails to seek friendship with the young shepherdess (Ann Darling); with the Monsters experience in the first film with Little Maria, he knows that he must save her from drowning. Of course, everyone finds him too frightening, however, in one of the many incredible scenes the film provides, the Monster is eventually provided with sympathy and encouragement when he encounters the old blind hermit (O.P. Heggie), who becomes the Monsters first true friend. Karloff's performance is truly remarkable, as it was in Frankenstein. Although, he opposed that the Monster speak, his character benefits greatly from this, as he finds room to expand on his already brilliant craft.

The memorable sequence of bringing the Monster's Bride (Lanchester) to life is unequaled - even the original scene in Frankenstein pales in comparison. The presentation of the birth of the Bride is stunningly as well, as Clive exclaims: "She's alive! ALIVE!" Lanchester who only stood 5'4" tall was placed on stilts that made her 7'0" tall, as well as, her unforgettable shock hairstyle which stood up and hinted that the electricity had shocked her to life was held by a wired horsehair cage. Also, her darting swan-like movements were inspired by the angry swans in London's Regent Park. Although, the Bride's appearance is extremely brief, it's most certainly worth it, especially when she finally encounters the Monsters.

The macabre, satirical Bride of Frankenstein is a key film to the horror genre (perhaps the best) and one of the genuinely great films of any genre. It's one of the most wonderfully crafted films in cinema history and is easily lauded as Whale's finest screen hour. This one has rightfully deserved it's ranking amongst the best of what Hollywood has to offer.
127 out of 142 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
One of the all time classics from the silver screen
Camera-Obscura12 July 2006
This review also refers to FRANKENSTEIN (1931).

The epitome of the Universal horror classics made by one the greatest practitioners of the genre, James Whale. He always wanted to be an A-list director and used to have mixed feelings about his horror work. Reluctant to make a sequel, he managed to assure himself of complete creative control over the project, putting together a unique blend of horror, suspense and tongue-in-cheek comedy that was quite unlike anything made before and has rarely been equaled ever since.

It has been noted, but the original 1931 FRANKENSTEIN should be seen first, as this one picks up the storyline where FRANKENSTEIN left off. Considering the combined running time of about 140 min, both films can easily be watched back to back.

The story sets off with a clever prologue between Mary Shelly (a short but great performance by Elsa Lanchester who also plays The Bride) and Lord Byron, who asks her to continue the tale of Dr. Frankenstein. Still recovering in his castle after the escape of the Monster, he is visited by the even more insane Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesinger). He is also experimenting with creating life (the miniature humans) and tries to persuade Frankenstein to join forces in order to create a female companion for the Monster (Boris Karloff), that is still at large wreaking havoc in the surrounding countryside.

Although both films are justly hailed as classics, in my opinion BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN holds up much better to modern audiences than the original. Basically two things stand out: a great music score is added, which make everything seem much more alive and fast moving than in the original film. Secondly, the black humor and it's sense of self-parody, spoofing the genre and even underpinning Whale's earlier films greatly adds to the fun, compared to the much more basic and primitive FRANKENSTEIN. Admittedly, this is partly due to a larger budget, but combined with the fabulous production values, splendid sets, stunning photography and absolutely striking special effects, that still look pretty amazing, even by today's standards. I was stunned by the scene in which Dr. Pretorius shows off his miniature people, that he keeps in the glass jars. Even modern-day special effects specialists couldn't figure out how they did it. I don't know anything that comes even close until computer-generated effects took over.

The eccentric Ernest Thesinger plays the role of his life and almost walks away with the film with his wonderful portrayal of the menacing Dr. Pretorius, who delivers one classic line after another. But the rest of the cast is just as good with particularly outstanding roles for - off course - Boris Karloff as the Monster, Elsa Lanchester in a dual role as The Bride (billed as "?") and Mary Shelley, and Una O'Connor as Minnie, Frankenstein's servant. I think it's one the very few films that can be enjoyed at almost any level, equally fun for (older) children and lovers of classic horror. This film proves that horror can be funny and intelligent and can be combined with splendid cinematic virtues. Not just Whale's best, this is one of the all-time great films.

Camera Obscura --- 10/10
64 out of 72 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Best horror movie of all time
richard-burdon12 February 2006
Without a doubt, this is one of the greatest horror movies of all time and the highlight of James Whale's career. The atmosphere evoked from the sets is near perfect, and although actually filmed on the Universal back-lot, you can believe that you are being led through a 19th century Bavaria. Although Karloff portrayed the monster only 3 times, this was undoubtedly the pinnacle of his career, and the film that most fans will remember him for. Mention should also be made of the excellent performance given by Ernest Thesiger as Doctor Pretorious. I've been interested in movies since I was 4 years old and have "Bride of Frankenstein" to thank for that. Superb.
55 out of 63 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Without a doubt THE greatest sequel ever, and a strong contender for the greatest horror movie of all time!
Infofreak16 April 2003
James Whale's 'Frankenstein' was a landmark movie (released in 1931, a year of two other landmark movies, Todd Browning's 'Dracula' and Fritz Lang's 'M'), and one of the most important and influential movies ever made. 'Bride Of Frankenstein' is a very rare beast, a sequel which not only equals, but surpasses the original! In my mind it is the greatest sequel in the history of motion pictures, and a strong contender for the greatest horror movie of all time. It's certainly one of the most original, stylish and entertaining ones, that's for sure. Horror legend Boris Karloff reprises his role as The Monster and manages to top his brilliant original performance, and give his character even more depth and emotion. Colin Clive reappears as Dr. Frankenstein, and legendary character actor Dwight Frye (Fritz in the first movie and Renfield in 'Dracula') plays another memorable supporting role as Karl. The beautiful Valerie Hobson replaces Mae Clarke as Elizabeth (a smart move!), and the eagle eyed with spot future stars John Carradine and Walter Brennan in bit parts, but the best thing about the movie apart from Karloff, is the addition of Elsa Lanchester as The Monster's "bride", and the wonderfully eccentric Ernest Thesiger as the nutty and sinister Dr. Pretorious. Karloff, Thesiger and Lanchester between them are responsible for some of the most memorable scenes in cinema history, particularly the "" exchange, the sequence with the blind hermit (absolutely heartbreaking!), and of course, the totally unforgettable meeting between The Monster and his mate! This is still an astonishing movie experience almost seventy years after it was made. Every single time I watch it I marvel at it. 'Bride Of Frankenstein' is one of the best movies I have ever seen, horror or otherwise. This movie comes with my highest possible recommendation!
92 out of 109 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Welcome to Whale's world...
crisso30 August 2002
Forget the likes of "The Godfather II" and "The Empire Strikes Back" - "Bride of Frankenstein" is THE greatest example of a sequel completely surpassing the original in terms of sheer brilliance. Coming four years after the original 'Frankenstein' in 1931, director James Whale was originally reluctant to make a sequel but changed his mind after being allowed to make the film more on his own terms. No other director has ever managed to blend horror, comedy and pathos as successfully Whale. The film features some of the most memorable scenes in cinema history, notably the monster's encounter with a lonely hermit and the introduction of 'The Bride'. The film has it all: superb casting, tremendous sets and make up, memorable dialogue ("To a new world of Gods and monsters") and a brilliant score by Franz Waxman. Boris Karloff must surely be one of the greatest actors to ever appear on film. He manages to improve on his initial characterisation of the Monster, due mainly to the addition of dialogue ("Friends, good!"), and, unlike in the first movie, actually makes us feel total empathy for the Monster. Colin Clive returns as the reluctant Doctor F, Una O'Connor makes a wonderful addition as the twittering and hysterical Minnie, but it is Ernest Thesiger who steals the film with his hilarious performance ("Have a cigar. They are my only weakness") as the sinister Dr. Pretorious. Although Elsa Lanchester appears as the Bride for only about 2 minutes at the film's finale, it will be the role for which she is forever associated. The film is regarded as the high point of the Universal horror series and stands as a testament to the genius of James Whale.
95 out of 113 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Monster is More True to Shelley's Vision
Hitchcoc7 March 2006
When Ernest Thesiger points and says, "The bride of Frankenstein," rolling his r's, he creates one of the greatest scenes in cinematic history. I do consider the second film superior to the first (though I love them both) because of the complexity of the characters and, more specifically, the monster. In Shelley's book the monster is lonely but articulate. He seeks out a bride. Frankenstein creates one but then destroys her, making his creature furious and vengeful. This monster actually has a kind part to him. For him to be blunt force thug can only go so far. It works in the first film but how much more growling and stomping could there be? The scenes of him wandering in the countryside, meeting the lonely old blind man in the house in the woods, and being shown kindness by him is very touching. The monster is allowed some humanity; some privacy. We know this can't last because his creator has doomed him. We often see Victor as some kind of hero, but, in reality, he has committed an incredible sin against another being. He wants a companion, but she turns on him and destroys his hope.

The setup, with Elsa Lanchester as Mary Shelley, talking with the foremost romantic poets of the time, Percy Shelley and Lord Byron (who also rolls his r's), is a great lead in as she brags about writing a story that will make your skin crawl. She must have been something in that male dominated society. Of course, her mother was one of the first to demand rights for women. When she reappears as the Bride, it is awesome. And who came up with the hair. It is one of those things like the monster's neck bolts, that has become such an icon for our culture.

These early Universal films deserve to be judged as major movies. Just because the subject is horror, doesn't mean they should be dismissed. James Whale was a great director with an amazing vision.
64 out of 75 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Bride of Frankenstein (1935) ****
JoeKarlosi14 September 2006
Reactions to this, James Whale's ageless masterpiece, are varied; some say it just could be the Greatest Horror Film Ever Made, some think it's just an overblown tongue-in-cheek comedy sham. Probably Whale himself would have been the first to label his picture a "farce", but count me among those who think it's a brilliant piece of work, well in consideration as one of the undisputed top-tier horror classics of any decade. It qualifies as horror, but mostly plays along more like a child's twisted storybook fantasy. It's renowned as one of the few movie sequels which may be considered even better than its original (in this case, that would be James Whale's 1931 FRANKENSTEIN). While I think both films are excellent, with the first being more serious in tone than its follow-up, I'd give the hair's edge to BRIDE.

Boris Karloff returned to portray the Frankenstein Monster, and he gives what is easily one of his finest performances. Here, the scarred creature emerges from the charred windmill he was burned in, and falls into the unscrupulous hands of the demented Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger, note-perfect in a part he seems born to play). Pretorius was once a colleague of Henry Frankenstein, the monster's creator (Colin Clive), and now connives his way back into the disinterested Frankenstein's life just as he's about to wed his fiancé, Elizabeth (Valerie Hobson). This time, the idea is to fashion a female for the creature, and Pretorius enlists the hulking Monster as an anxious partner into his scheme.

Karloff gets to talk as the Monster in this film, and while the actor himself believed it was a mistake to give the creature speech, I must respectfully disagree; it made him even more pitiable and human. The film's most wonderful sequence features the wandering creation stumbling awkwardly into the hut of a lonely blind hermit, who cannot see and therefore is unable to judge the Monster strictly from his unnerving physical appearance. Instead, he offers the creature food, water, and a place to sleep, while teaching him the most basic forms of communication. It is a truly great cinematic moment.

There is very little to quibble about within this film (Valerie Hobson's hysterical Elizabeth comes the closest at achieving that), and Whale's passion for lightweight comic relief in his horror films works perfectly. Aside from Thesiger's Pretorius, much of that comes courtesy of Una O'Connor, who is a delight as Frankenstein's sniveling maid. Elsa Lanchester immortalized herself forever with her electrified hairdo as the Monster's intended Mate, and she is also seen early on in a dual performance prologue as the more dainty Mary Shelley, the author who "penned the nightmare". Franz Waxman's glorious score punctuates the wondrous proceedings. **** out of ****
41 out of 47 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Is it possible to improve on perfection ??
Coventry19 August 2003
Warning: Spoilers
When I first saw Frankenstein (1931), I was amazed. It was one of the greatest stories I ever saw and it impressed me on so many levels. I honestly didn't think I would ever see such a great phenomenon again. Well, I should reconsider that. The sequel is even more magical, more impressive and more perfect. The bride of Frankenstein can easily be considered as the best horror movie ever made and it even ranks high it the list of best movies in general ever made. The atmosphere, the locations, the acting and direction...really nothing at all can be criticized. Compared to what everybody thought, both the Monster and Dr. Frankenstein survived the incident at the windmill at the end of the original Frankenstein. While the Monster flees to freedom, Dr. Frankenstein is approached by Dr. Pretorius. A wicked scientist who created life himself, but he needs the genius of Dr. Frankenstein to complete his project. Although he swore to his girl Elizabeth he would stop playing God, Frankenstein is intrigued by the the project of Dr. Pretorius and joins his research. Meanwhile, the Monster is feeling terrible. He realizes he scares everybody away and only found friendship with a blind man. During this absolutely beautiful and magical scene he learns to talk and express his emotions. When he's hunted down again he meets Dr. Pretorius and demands him to make him a friend. Because of this, Dr. Pretorius can force Frankenstein to create life again. If he doesn't, Elizabeth shall die... This movie gives a completely other meaning to the word "sequel". When this word is heard, people usually think about an inferior product which was made to make more money. This certainly isn't the case for The Bride of Frankenstein. Hard to believe, but this movie, in fact, ADDS a lot of great things to the saga of Frankenstein. It handles even more about the human emotions and contains some very important lessons. We also see a lot more about the personalities of the characters. The Monster of course, but also Dr. Frankenstein and his girl. And a few great new characters are introduced. The blind man to begin with...An adorable man who is as lonely as the creature. He doesn't judge on what he sees ( well, he can't of course ) and searches for deeper feelings. The character of Dr. Pretorius is fantastic also. A wicked and obsessed man, who doesn't care about normal life. He's rude and emotionless and terrific as the bad guy in the story.

The story opens with Mary Shelley telling the complete story. This immediately sets the perfect atmosphere which is held during the whole movie. No doubt about of the greatest masterpieces ever seen. If you haven't seen it yet, do whatever it takes to get a copy !!! I gave the original Frankenstein a rating 10 out of 10, so I guess there isn't a rating that is high enough to praise The Bride of Frankenstein. Just as good as cinema can get !!!
41 out of 47 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
BrandtSponseller5 February 2005
Series note: Although not imperative, it is strongly suggested that viewers take time to watch Frankenstein prior to Bride of Frankenstein. This is a linear continuation of the story of the first film, and the characters and motivations will have more meaning if you watch the series in order.

Despite appearances to the contrary at the end of the first film, Frankenstein (1931), the monster has survived. The quickly recuperating Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) is paid a visit by Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger), who has been engaging in similar research into the creation and restoration of life. Although Frankenstein wants to quit the business after the atrocities documented in the first film, Pretorius tries to persuade him to continue, while at the same time, the monster starts to become more sophisticated.

Although many fans prefer Bride of Frankenstein to Frankenstein, they are both 10s to me. Given tastes and typical comments about modern horror films, it is surprising that this film is the usual preference, as it is even more rooted in surrealist/absurdist fantasy and it is loaded with a wicked, campy humor--at times the film is more of a spoof of the first than a sequel.

But at that, I love it. I love fantasy, surrealism and absurdism and I like my horror to be campy and humorous as much as I like it to be serious. Director James Whale had acquired more "Hollywood clout" in the four years since making the original film, and said that he wanted to treat Bride as a "hoot"--he found the premise to be "highly amusing". And that it is. Whale gives us whimsical elements from minor characters, such as Minnie (Una O'Connor), who provides a healthy dose of comic relief during the monster's "resurrection", to major characters' mannerisms, such as the Karloff's portrayal of the monster's newfound abilities and subtlety. Pretorius has a flamboyantly questionable sexuality (the film is permeated with all manner of complex sexual metaphors) and his creations are as bizarrely goofy as say, Jar Jar Binks (from Star Wars Episode 1 (1999)), although they do not dominate the film in the same way.

Often noted as a standout element are the sets, and rightly so. Like the first film, the gorgeous sets show a heavy influence from German expressionist films, but here they are even more grand in scale and they are also more numerous and varied. The cinematography is as crisp as can be, and just as atmospheric (occasionally more so) as the first film. The presence of a score this time around works well, although the first film is just as notable for its ability to be just as dramatic without a score.

The story in Bride of Frankenstein is much more sprawling and epic than in the first film. That fact neither makes it better or worse, but pleasantly different compared to Frankenstein's relatively tight, almost claustrophobic plot (which is appropriate for the subject matter). While Karloff's zombie-like muteness from Frankenstein was perfect in that context, it makes sense to have him mature here, and provides for some fantastic scenes, such as his interaction with the blind hermit (O.P. Heggie). Whale also chose to be much more literal and straightforward with the ethical and religious subtexts of the plot, and this film is notable for the large amount of verbal and visual references to God and Christianity--the visual references include the monster being hoisted on a "pole" as if being crucified, the monster descending into a grave with a crucifix looming over him, and a crucifix over a bed upon which the camera lingers.

I actually prefer to think of Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein as two halves or a single film, and given their short running times, they can be viewed back to back in about two and a half hours. If you haven't seen either one yet, you owe it to yourself to watch them at least once.
76 out of 92 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
One of the Great Classics of the Genre
gftbiloxi8 April 2005
Interestingly, Whale did not want to make a sequel to his incredibly successful 1931 FRANKENSTEIN, and bowed to studio pressure only when he received assurance of absolute control. The result is perhaps his most personal film--a strange collage of Gothic horror, black humor, religious motifs, and sexual innuendo--and one of the great classics of the genre.

The plot elaborates an idea contained in the Mary Shelly novel: Frankenstein is pressured to create a mate for the monster. In Shelly's novel, the doctor eventually balks; in the film, however, he sees the experiment through due to a mix of his own obsession and the manipulations of a new character, Dr. Pretorious, and the two create the only truly iconographic female monster in the film pantheon of the 1930s horror film: "The Bride," brilliantly played by Elsa Lanchester.

The cast is excellent throughout, with Colin Clive and Boris Karloff repeating their roles and Frankenstein and the monster, and Valerie Hobson an able replacement for Mae Clarke in the role of Elizabeth; Ernest Thesiger and Una O'Connor also give incredibly memorable performances as the truly strange Pretorius and the constantly hysterical maid Minnie. The art design is remarkable, and the Waxman score is justly famous. But the genius of the film lies not so much in these new and bizarre characters, in the familiar ones, or in the production values: it is in the way in which Whales delicately balances his elements and then subverts them.

FRANKENSTEIN owes much of its power to its directness--it has a raw energy that is difficult to resist, still more difficult to describe. But THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN owes its power to its complexity. Nothing here is quite what it appears to be, and throughout the film we constantly receive mixed messages about the characters and implications of their situations. While Thesiger's Dr. Pretorius is justly celebrated as a covert gay icon of the darkest possible variety, and while many people quickly grasp Whale's often subversive use of Christian imagery, the film has many, many layers that do not reveal themselves upon a single viewing.

The single most startling sequence, at least to my mind, is the famous scene in which the Monster stumbles into the lonely cottage of the blind hermit, a role beautifully played by O.P. Heggie. On the surface, the sequence would seem to be about how cruelly we judge people by appearances, and how true kindness can lift the fallen. It was not until I had seen the film several times that it dawned upon me that Whale has essentially endowed the a scene with a host of covertly homosexual overtones--and then tied them to a series of Christian elements for good measure. It is startling, to say the least.

The current Universal DVD release is exceptional, and the film is supported with an interesting documentary and a still more interesting audio commentary track. Critics and fans continue to battle of whether FRANKENSTEIN or THE BRIDE is the better film--but I say they are so completely different that the question simply doesn't arise. Whatever the case, if you are a fan of 1930s horror and James Whale in particular, this is a must own see, must own.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
54 out of 64 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Lightning strikes twice.
Sergeant_Tibbs16 September 2014
The sequel to the iconic horror classic Frankenstein is an oddball one. That's part of its charm. The Bride of Frankenstein sounds like a piece of parody rather than a sincere followup, and in a way it's awareness of its sometimes satirical nature makes it stronger than its straighter predecessor. However, its finest facets are its ahead-of-its-time technical aspects. The stark cinematography is astonishing and the precision of its sharp editing is unprecedented, let alone the reliably impressive production design. It's a much more entertaining and enduring experience than other films of the 30s. James Whale got much better conviction out of his actors this time around and it deals with the moral consequences of their actions rather than leaving it to loud anguish. While the film is a bit of retread of the first film as Frankenstein's monster is chased from place to place, it adds development and essential sensitivity to his character leading its tragic end to be much more meaningful in its destruction. This was a very pleasant surprise, ominously horrific and slyly comic, without the two clashing.

8 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
One of the more superior sequels you'll see and another superb addition to the Universal horror archive.
johnnyboyz1 July 2007
Bride of Frankenstein is definitely one of the more memorable sequels of all time. The first Frankenstein film was a truly memorable exploration of horror and was extremely advanced for its time; dealing with issues of modernity when the doctor starts talking of space travel and also pushing censorship to levels it hadn't been pushed to before; having characters exclaim they 'knew what God felt like' and also including images of dead bodies and murder. With Bride of Frankenstein, certain elements of surprise have been lost but the film delves deeper into its characters and explores different things to make it more of an 'entertaining' film.

The film doesn't hang around and cleverly introduces the story through the original author Mary Shelley (Elsa Lanchester) dictating what it is that happens next. For a film in 1935 to use such a technique and manage to include elements of heartbreak when we assume Dr. Frankenstein is dead, horror when The Monster re-emerges AND murder when someone mistakenly crosses him all in the first ten minutes or so, is extremely impressive and is only the result of fantastic direction through great, inventive ideas.

Then, the film uses the character of The Monster as a sort of MacGuffin. It is reduced to a wondering, babbling, hulking thing getting into mischief as it makes its way through the forests nearby but this isn't a bad thing. What we see is the first example of the characters in this, so far, series of two films develop. The Monster starts to develop emotions of pity when it sees someone in the forest in trouble and attempts to rescue them as well as intelligence because it manages to get itself out of trouble when danger threatens it – there is no excuse for this development of ideas and intelligence but it's interesting to see anyway.

What's more, this wondering and random character is a great excuse for it to cause havoc and/or get into adventures of its own and this it does to a basic level. Apart from stumbling across a picnic of some description when everyone assumes its safe since when last they heard, he'd been captured; The Monster gets involved with a seemingly lonely man who lives in a log cabin in the woods. The curse here to me is that I'd seen Kenneth Branagh's 1994 Frankenstein before this so I knew what was up and how things would develop.

As a result, it was predictable to me but to fresh eyes what follows between The Monster and this man is an education and a friendship that truly supports evidence that this film really is all about developing characters such as The Monster further away from the 'dead' tag and closer to the 'human' tag. Not only this but Dr. Frankenstein himself is leaning more and more towards a 'normal' life away from insane experiments; tempted back only by blackmail. About half way through, Frankenstein's creation manages to get himself into a bit of trouble and is caught but escapes so soon afterwards, the sequence passes off without too much suspense or interest which was disappointing; also, the character of Minnie is so obviously an attempt at comic relief that she becomes annoying quite quickly although I suppose they had to include this character to stop the film appearing too dark.

If Frankenstein from 1931 was an out and out horror shock–fest for the time, Bride of Frankenstein remains a character piece full of 'what would happen if.....' a mindless, homicidal lab creation was loose in rural Europe. Some of the later scenes still made me squirm a little when the 'mate' is being created and if you can look past the rushed ending; you'll see a sequel to a film miles ahead of its time, ahead of its time.
7 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A very good film, but not as good as the original
callanvass10 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Henry Frankenstein and the Monster have managed to escape the fire from the end of the first movie. More vulnerable than ever, Henry is coerced into making a mate for the Monster by the maniacal Dr. Pretorious. For many years, I preferred this to the original. I recently watched this again, but my feelings have changed. I now think the original is better. It's really bizarre, even for 1935. This movie is more daring, very ambitious, creative, but it's a bit too creaky at times. It moves a tad too slow, and I don't think it has the same emotional impact. It has some beautiful scenes in it. A great one involves the Monster trying to help a little girl who has fallen in the water. I also loved the relationship between the Monster and the blind man, which is sadly short-lived. You won't find many things more beautiful than that relationship. The Monster wanting simple things in life, like smoke, booze, and a friend. It makes the monster that more effective. The Monster really began to show a human side to him. He's somewhat sympathetic, and I felt for him. Boris Karloff is incredible as the Monster. You won't find many better performances than his performances as the Monster. He talks in this one and I had mixed feelings about it. I didn't think it was all that necessary. Colin Clive is excellent again as Henry. He does a great job of combining madness and regret. You can see the toll this is beginning to take on him. Valerie Hobson is horrible as Elizabeth. You expect some plastic acting back then, but she is seriously terrible. Why they casted her is beyond me. Elsa Lanchester is barely in the movie! She shows up at the beginning and the end. The "Bride" is promoted heavily, but that doesn't come into play until the end. It's definitely tragic and heartbreaking when she shows up though. Wait until you see the sadness from the Monster. Ernest Thesiger is great as the kooky Dr. Pretorious. Special mention to Una O'Connor for stealing the show with her antics.

I like this movie a lot, but I no longer put it on the original's level. That being said, It's a great movie. Horror fans have to watch it at least once

4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
First rate and awesome sequel as good as the original Frankestein
ma-cortes10 January 2010
This sensational sequel deals about the Dr. Frankestein (Colin Clive), and the Dr. Pretorius (a sinister Ernest Thesiger) who are coerced by the monster (Boris Karloff) into creating a bride (Elsa Lanchaster in a double role also as the novel's author, Mary Shelley) for him.

The classic actor of horror movies named Boris Karloff is magnificent and Colin Clive brings a strong portrayal of the scientific attempting to create a new monster changing hearts . Atmospheric, slick terror film , creaky at times but it's still impressive. The film displays excellent set design , ambitious screenplay with too many eerie scenes and adequate interpretation for all casting. Boris Karloff does a top notch performance in the role which made him a terror movie legend,it still stands as one of the great screen acting. Dwight Frye also is excellent in a similar role to Igor in a brief performance. Furthermore in role very secondary appears E.E. Clive as burgomaster and John Carradine as a hunter at the hermit's cottage. Special mention to Una O'Connor as sympathetic servant and of course Ernest Thesigher as mean scientific creator of homunculus. Appropriate musical score by Franz Waxman and dark black and white cinematography full of lights and shades by Mescall. It's followed by ¨House of Frankestein¨, ¨son of Frankestein¨, ¨Frankestein meet the wolf man¨ and ¨ The Zingara and the monsters¨ in which as the title suggests, various of Universal's most famous monsters confront and fight among them . The motion picture is masterfully produced and directed by James Whale who already directed his former classic horror film, ¨Frankestein¨. Rating : Top-drawer terror film, essential and indispensable watching.
12 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Impressive Though Over Analyzed Horror Movie
Theo Robertson15 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
One problem with film criticism is to over analysis a film and read things in to its subtext which just aren't there . THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN is a very good example of this . Once someone points out the fact that director James Whale was a homosexual it opens the floodgates for people reading the film in a way no one originally envisaged . We're shown an opening scene where Lord Byron describes himself as " England's greatest sinner " and as the film progresses we're introduced to nods and winks to a sin of that dare not be explicitly referred to . Instead we see Doctor Pretoruis , a sort of precursor to Quintan Crisp who is described as " queer looking " drinks gin , makes a queen and suggests that he becomes a partner of Baron Frankenstein . Oh purleese . Do you honestly think Whale made this film as a type of gay manifesto ? I'll say one thing about movie directors and that is they have kept a lot of pretentious pseudo intellectuals in a job

As a form of entertainment ( Yes films are produced as a form of entertainment and to make money for studio investments ) THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN is very impressive . There is an irony showing the character of Mary Shelley because our thoughts of FRANKENSTEIN owe more to James Whale and Universal studios than they do to Shelley . I doubt if very many people have read the original text but we're all aware of the image of Boris Karloff staggering around a studio interior forest growling . The studio forest depicted in this film are obviously stage sets but are very impressive

What Whale has done is to mix pathos with a grotesque sense of humour . I thought after seeing YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN I could never take the scene of the monster turning up at the blind hermit's cottage seriously ever again but after seen the movie it remains a touching , poignant segment of the film and Karloff elicits great sympathy from the audience . There's also a surreal image of Doctor Pretorious feasting in a crypt and while there's absolutely no logic for this scene ( Unless he is clairvoyant and knew the monster was going to turn up ) it remains a striking and morbid image

James Whale directs at a very good and brisk pace and with his " midget people " he brings a sense of wonder that would have had audiences gasping " How did he do that ? " but I don't think it's his masterwork , that would almost certainly THE INVISIBLE MAN from two years earlier , a film slightly more enjoyable due to its insane , dark humour along with jaw dropping special effects . The narrative itself is rather episodic and plot less and the mix of different accents grate slightly with Una O' Connor playing an irritating comic character but it's still an impressive film though over the year's has become over analyzed by people who should know better
13 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
James Whale's masterpiece
theodore_varengo22 April 2007
This film had several things stacked against it going into production, potentially preventing it from being as great as it is: for one thing, sequels rarely equal the original film in quality, and James Whale was reluctant to return to the Frankenstein story after the first film, so one might have thought he wouldn't put his heart into the project. Another thing that could have worked against the film is that it is immediately obvious that they had a much higher budget and there is a slickness that wasn't present in the original. The relative crudeness of FRANKENSTEIN worked in its favor; the smaller budget and lack of a score only added to its weirdness.

Fortunately, James Whale overcame all of these factors (including his initial reluctance) and delivered not only one of the greatest horror films ever made, but probably one of the greatest films ever made in any genre. Just compare the scene of Frankenstein and Pretorius bringing the Bride to life to the equivalent creation scene in the original movie and you'll see how they ramped everything up to a whole new level for this picture. The editing, the production design, the sets, the performances, are so over the top yet dead on it almost creates a giddiness or a frenzied feeling for the viewer. In fact, as the movie progresses, the editing becomes more frantic, the camera angles more abstract, the overall effect more otherworldly. By the creation scene, the film feels half-crazed, the viewer somehow intoxicated. Ernest Thesiger as Pretorius as absolutely brilliant, his performance equaling that of any contemporary actor, and Colin Clive delivers yet another delightfully manic performance as a Henry Frankenstein torn between what is morally right and scientific curiosity. But of course it is Boris Karloff who gives an outstanding performance as the Monster (duly credited this time instead of being billed as "?" as he was in the first movie), one that may even bring you to tears he when befriends a blind hermit.

There is a great deal more humor in this film, most of it delivered by Thesiger in laugh-out-loud lines that are not funny at all taken out of context ("You're wise in your generation" for example), and I don't want to ruin any of the witty and florid dialogue for you. The film careens wildly from humor to pathos, creepiness to zaniness, in a roller coaster ride of styles and emotions. The slickness doesn't detract from the atmosphere, and since the first film was an enormous hit for Universal, to try and duplicate the low-budget look of the first film would have been pretentious.

This is just about as close to a perfect movie that one will encounter, and certainly a perfect Universal horror flick. And who wouldn't enjoy that?
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Universal Horror film that transcends its category to become something rich and strange
J. Spurlin11 December 2006
When I remember this movie, the first scene I think of is the one where the blind man meets The Monster. The creature appears at the hermit's cabin, attracted by the old man's violin playing. The hermit invites the Monster in, soothes his fears, gives him food and shelter, and then puts him to bed. He kneels beside the Monster and gives his humble thanks to God for sending him a friend to relieve his loneliness. Organ music plays in the background. The image of Jesus on the cross shines brightly before the scene fades to black. How this scene stands on the edge of parody without tumbling over is a mystery to me.

This film's combination of sincerity and peculiar comedy, horror and subtle wit is unique. Do not miss it. Universal Horror of the 1930s and 40s has given us many exceptional films, but this one transcends them all, transcends its category as a horror film and becomes something unclassifiable and endlessly enjoyable. The visuals are peerlessly designed, with their strange lighting, tilted camera angles, unpredictable cuts and marvelous sets; all contributing to something that is both outré yet uncannily perfect. Franz Waxman's score is a constant delight, always adding to the comedy, suspense, pathos and horror: its two highlights for me are the wacky-macabre piece in the tomb and the heartbeat-like pulses and shimmering sounds that introduce the Bride.

Four performances help make this film what it is. Most unforgettable is "?", as she's billed in the credits, playing the creature-bride in her now-familiar makeup, costume and fright wig, making the most of her brief screen time. Most important is Boris Karloff, returning from "Frankenstein" (1931) to give another pitiful, funny and horrifying performance. Most emblematic of the film's comedy is Ernest Thesiger as the thin, desiccated Faust-like figure with his bizarre lines and fruity line readings. The best support comes from O.P. Heggi as the sympathetic hermit. Two more performances deserve note: Colin Clive returns as Henry Frankenstein, crying "She's alive" with that rich, musical voice of his, and Una O'Connor plays the hysterical servant Minnie.

From the weirdly mannered prologue with Mary Shelley, Lord Byron and Percy Shelley to the near-final shot of the hissing Bride, this is a movie unlike any other.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Prisoner Of His Own Creation
bkoganbing16 January 2009
Universal Studio in the height of the Hollywood Studio System was famous for three things that kept it in the black besides those famous studio tours that survive to this day. The Deanna Durbin musicals, the Abbott&Costello comedies and those great Gothic horror films with Dracula, The Wolfman, The Mummy and most of all Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Those sets were used over and over again, you can recognize them if you're a real student of the genre.

Although some have criticized it, I rather like the beginning of Bride of Frankenstein in a Regency drawing room where the creative minds of Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and Mary Shelley are meeting. Of course the subject gets around to how she would continue the story, it just can't end right there. So while Gavin Gordon as Byron and Douglas Walton as Percy Shelley listen, Elsa Lanchester as Mary Shelley starts to tell about the further doings of her characters.

Of course Colin Clive as Victor Frankenstein thought dead when he was brought out of the ruin, turns out to be alive, but in need of medical attention. The monster is also not dead, he's been put together even stronger than an ordinary human. As is first two victims he kills the parents of the little girl he killed in the original Frankenstein film.

While Clive is recuperating at home under the care of his wife played here by Valerie Hobson, Clive receives a visit from his former teacher and mentor who originally aroused his interest in experiments along this line. Ernest Thesiger is Doctor Praetorious, a scientist whose reputation is more dubious than that of Frankenstein. He's been experimenting with bringing people back to life and he shows his little creations to Frankenstein. What he describes sounds a lot like cloning Mini Mes as Doctor Evil did. But DNA was not heard of back in the early 19th century.

He thinks they ought to combine there efforts and create a female back from the dead to be a mate for the Frankenstein monster. Who knows if the big guy gets a little something something at home, maybe he won't have quite such a bad attitude. When the monster after wreaking havoc again on the countryside is finally back in the Frankenstein laboratory, he insists on a 'friend' for himself. It's a real mess that Clive has gotten himself in again.

Bride Of Frankenstein with that incredible climax when the monster tries to court his bride will still give you frights for weeks on watching it. The Gothic horror atmosphere that James Whale created on the Universal sets is still capable of creeping one out.

Boris Karloff did not repeat his monster role after this and Colin Clive died in 1937 before the next Frankenstein film was made. Still the cycle may have been the most successful of all the Universal monster franchises. It certainly my favorite of all of them.
7 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
1935's "The Bride of Frankenstein" is classic in many ways
chuck-reilly24 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
1935's "The Bride of Frankenstein, director James Whale's sequel to his earlier smash hit "Frankenstein," is considered not only one of the great horror films of the ages, but indeed, a classic movie in any genre. Bordering on "camp" at some points, but always on "message," "The Bride.." features several holdovers from the earlier film. Colin Clive, as stiff an actor as you'll ever find, returns as the Monster's creator, Dr. Henry Frankenstein. Boris Karloff, of course, reprises his role as the Monster, but this time learns how to speak with the help of O.P. Heggie as the blind hermit. Their relationship in this film has been the subject of debate for years due to Whale's own sexual preference. Karloff's "Monster" has a rough go of it throughout the proceedings and the mad scientist (even madder than Dr. Frankenstein) Dr. Pretorius doesn't improve matters for him one bit. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) is portrayed as perverted, cynical and unscrupulous (and possibly Jewish) and his own experiments have to be seen to be believed. His chief goal is for Dr. Frankenstein to assist him in making a mate for Karloff so that they can create their own "race." That sounds like a great idea on paper, but doesn't translate as well in the laboratory. The mate turns out to be the most frightening and distinctively weird female image in the history of cinema. At first glance, she and Karloff look somewhat close to a match made in heaven, but their "relationship" goes to hell in a hand-basket faster than you can say "I do." It seems she doesn't like his "appearance." She obviously hasn't looked in the mirror herself lately. Before this love match takes place, Karloff is subjected to one abuse after another from the townsfolk, from the police, and from a few shots from John Carradine's rifle. In one scene, an angry mob drapes Karloff over a cross and director Whale exhibits him as almost a Christ-like figure. Between that scene and a host of others, there's enough implied imagery and symbolism in this film to keep a team of psychoanalysts busy. As for the rest of the cast, Valerie Hobson plays Henry's wife Elizabeth, replacing Mae Clarke from the first film. She's better looking but not much of an improvement in the acting category. Veteran Una O'Connor provides some much-needed comic relief as the idiotic "Minnie." It's a role she could do in her sleep. Dwight Frye (the lunatic Renfield in 1931's "Dracula") has a small but effective part as a gravedigger. Lastly, Elsa Lanchester is the "Bride" of the title and also appears as author Mary Shelley in the film's brief prologue. According to her associates, Lord Byron and Percy Shelley, little Mary has a lot of explaining to do. With some minor prodding, she soon gets the film rolling as she begins her "sequel" to the story. Without grading her on a curve, Ms. Shelley definitely deserves an A+ for originality.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Triumphs of horror and horror parody lumped together with twisted genius befitting its creator
pyrocitor13 September 2010
While most films celebrated as genre classics generally function to fulfill the set of expectations associated with them in the cultural lexicon, James Whale's Bride of Frankenstein marks one of the most pointed examples where one's enjoyment of the film could prove largely contingent on watching without being bogged down by expectations. After vocally disdaining the idea of a sequel to his initial horror classic, Whale instead runs with the opportunity to play with an expanded budget and deliver even more surreal, somber yet gruesomely funny metaphoric musings on life, death, conventional relationships and sexuality and more, all under the guise of straightforward Gothic horror.

And Bride of Frankenstein could still easily be appraised as a classic 'traditional' horror movie strictly, but remaining unaware of Whale's fiendish playfulness would doubtlessly leave many a viewer scratching their heads as to many creative choices. The trick is to regard Whale's approach as half self-parody, half serious and all willfully weird, extrapolating (and in many ways 'remaking') his initial classic in a subtly experimental, conflicting yet successful tonal fusion. Alternating between moments of high camp (the bizarrely flamboyant character of manipulative scientist Dr. Pretorius feels a cheeky prodding of the regulations of the Hays code) and heartbreaking poignancy (the Creature's infamous encounter with a blind hermit and the unforgettable reaction of the Bride laying eyes upon her 'friend' for the first time), Whale's film is a perpetually unsettling watch, darting between tone and approach for the sake of an unexpectedly arresting product.

This is not to say the film is without fault: the reigniting of elements of the first film feels largely contrived (turns out the Creature isn't dead! Nor is Frankenstein! Let's toy with morals and build another monster!), though whether this is a self-effacing joke on Whale's part or not is unclear. Equally, when viewed without the context of its predecessor, the primary characters do feel noticeably underdeveloped, and there lies an uneasy use of cinematic metaphor, whether religious (one scene, in which the Creature is bound and carried on a log, blatantly evokes Christian iconography) or a bizarre underlying theme of the dangers of substance abuse (the Creature's gruesome reputation is partially equated with its gorging itself on cigars, alcohol, food and lusting after women). Nonetheless, Whale retains his flair for filling films with delightfully gruesome, cartoonish supporting players (Una O'Connor's screeching maid toes the line between hilarious and infuriating) and phenomenal set design, torn between solemn Gothic and discordant expressionist terror, giving the film a uniquely disturbing aesthetic. No matter how much the film creeps into oddity, Whale always capably anchors it throughout from descending into surreal chaos, delivering a remarkable balancing act whose clashing elements serve to only make their points more effectively.

Reprising his iconic horror creation, Boris Karloff proves most adept at bleeding aching pathos from his misunderstood Creature's whimpered attempts at human contact, as scenes of him ferociously snarling and stumbling around risk being (un?)intentionally funny. Colin Clive, the 'straight man' anchor to the variable strangeness surrounding him, hits a sturdy balance between charm and nervy perfectionism as Dr. Henry Frankenstein, and Valerie Hobson instills a considerable earnest glow into her limited scenes as Frankenstein's fiancé. Elsa Lanchester delivers a dual triumph of performances as both a savvy Mary Shelly in the film's prologue and matching her astounding hair and makeup job with an equally nervy and fascinating performance as the Creature's 'Bride'. That said, it is truly Ernest Thesiger who walks away with the show as the delightfully strange Pretorius. Though verging on feeling downright out of place, Thesiger's grimly knurled face and mad giggle somehow manage to epitomize the spirit of the picture: though almost too strange to fit, somehow ambitious and deadly twisted enough to transition from comical spectacle to deadly serious moral manipulation.

Though it seems the cultural lexicon has largely forgotten how strange and self-effacing the film truly is, Whale's Bride of Frankenstein boasts a fearless flair for experimentation, thematic exploration and tonal fluctuation to match its iconic visuals. As telling as any of the potential for mad visions unleashed on mainstream entertainment, Whale's work, though more tempered by age than many of its kin, still stands out as essential viewing for fans of horror, cinematic fun and psychoanalysis alike.

5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Monster Returns!
dagonseve14 July 2010
In 1818, Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus was first published anonymously in London. Audiences in France would later discover in its second publication that the story was a product of a young and dark imagination. That imagination, aged 19 years, was Mary Shelley. No one could have predicted that her novel would be produced into a film over a hundred years later and her beloved monster would instantly become one of the most recognizable faces since the inception of film.

It was never Whale's intention to make a follow-up film to 1932's Frankenstein but under certain contractual obligations and a substantial amount of pressure from executives, he finally agreed to make another film based on the Frankenstein monster. The original working title was known as "The Return of Frankenstein" but was changed to Bride of Frankenstein based on a small story arc in Shelley's novel. So, now that we've thoroughly explored the in's, out's, and around's, we have a solid background to build upon and we're ready to continue onward. So…onward!

The story opens with Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, and Percy Shelley seated comfortably in a sitting room discussing the horrors of her novel. Mary states that a moral lesson is to be drawn from her tale and goes on further to explain that other events occur after the initial story's final act. Subtle screen transitions then depict the closing scene from the first film, as the Frankenstein monster escapes from the burning wreckage and flees into the woods. Meanwhile, Dr. Henry Frankenstein's body (his name was originally Victor but for reasons unclear to me they changed it for the sequel) is recovered and brought back to his fiancée Elizabeth (Valerie Hobson replaced Mae Clark who played Elizabeth in the first film). Henry is approached by his former mentor Dr. Septimus Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) and expresses an interest in furthering their research. These introductory elements head smoothly into a classic moral tale.

Bride of Frankenstein celebrates the same lavish sets and cinematography that helped make the first film beautiful. If you take the time to admire the set design it becomes clear that amazing things were produced 75 years ago – there are still several sequences where I had to ask myself, "I wonder how they did that?" We could agree on how similar these devices are but a welcome addition that you'll find in Bride of Frankenstein is the use of comic relief, especially from Dr. Frankenstein's housekeeper Minnie, played by character actress Una O'Connor. The presence of this comedic effect is quietly slipped into the dialogue but if you pay close attention and have an offbeat sense of humor you may pick up on it.

In some ways it's refreshing to watch an enjoyable sequel without the overuse of marketing campaigns and slogans that slowly bleed dry the film's worth – but even in the '30's, sequels exhibit cliché moments to capitalize on the first film's success. Show business is show business but I've chosen to exercise a more lenient approach this time and ignore the negative attributes that plague most sequels.

What may be the biggest issue with Bride of Frankenstein, though, is how little screen time that the Bride has. With a title that openly proclaims the main attraction and a female monster that is easily in the top ten of all horror icons, her part is a small one. The Bride is played by Elsa Lanchester who also fills the role of Mary Shelley in the film's prologue. James Whale did this intentionally, not on account of budget constraints but with the purpose of portraying the duality of man. The small increments that the Bride is available are, without a doubt, classic…it's wonderful how much of an impact her character has on the genre which is why many film critics hail this film as Whale's masterpiece.

If you love old movie monsters from the silver screen and have always wondered what the hoopla was about, especially that of Frankenstein, The Monster, and the Bride, you HAVE to see this. I recommend starting with the original and then viewing this one – just a friendly bit of advice. Now…onward!
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
One of the greatest achievements in the history of horrordom
TheLittleSongbird2 May 2010
I love the first Frankenstein, it was shocking and enthralling despite the complaints of it being dated and slow. Maybe so but I still love it. The Bride of Frankenstein is a wonderful sequel to an already wonderful film, and surpasses it technically I feel. Even if the acting is a little forced in the beginning scene, with the exception of Elsa Lanchester, that is such a minor flaw compared to how good and enjoyable this film was. If you ask me Bride of Frankenstein is one of the greatest achievements in the history of horrordom.

First of all, it is extravagantly produced. The sets are really imaginative, the cinematography is beautiful and the costumes are extravagant. Along the way I noticed two improvements compared to the first film. One is that Bride of Frankenstein is faster in pace, and two the music score is more haunting and melancholic here, Franz Waxman was the perfect choice for composer. Bride of Frankenstein also has some really effective scenes, the ending was very well done as was the unveiling of the bride to the sound of wedding bells and the miniature people in the bell jars, but I found the scene between the monster and the blind hermit especially touching. James Whale's direction is innovative just like in the first film, and the script is also very good and adds to the atmosphere. The acting is excellent, Colin Clive is very good once again as the eccentric Henry Frankenstein, and Ernest Thesiger gives a genius turn as Doctor Pretorious. Valerie Hobson is alluring and sympathetic as Elizabeth, occasionally overdoing it with the hysteria but she was fine overall, while Elsa Lanchester is good as Mary Shelley but electrifyingly beautiful as the bride. Once again though, Boris Karloff gives the finest performance, his towering presence and frightening look ensures for some scares, but he is very poignant as well, as his monster only wants to fit in and is rejected by everybody.

Overall, a wonderful sequel, and not to be missed! 10/10 Bethany Cox
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Best Universal Monster Movie ever made! Warning: Spoilers
This is a great movie for the average horror movie fan, like myself. First let's talk about the acting, Boris Karloff and Colin Clive are absolutely fantastic as Dr. Frankenstein and the Monster. Every one else dose good but none as good as Karloff and Clive. Now the story line, unlike the First Universal Frankenstein movie, this one follows the book more, like with the old blind man, the bride the the creature wants so very badly, and so on. Never the less it is a great storyline no matter what. Now lets talk about the music score, needless to say it kicks a$$. It's no wonder that it eventually got nominated for an Oscar, which in my opinion it should have won. This is a great horror movie one of the best ever made so go check it out.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
the first "Frankenstein" picture was merely a monster story; the vastly superior sequel is a dramatic, surprisingly moving opus that captures Mary Shelley's original vision
TheUnknown837-13 November 2009
Although its opening ten minutes are melodramatic and a little ludicrous, the remainder of the running time of James Whale's science-fiction classic "Bride of Frankenstein" proves to not only be superior to its predecessor, but also a surprisingly moving and imaginative motion picture which explores Frankenstein's monster the way that Mary Shelley had originally intended when she conceived of the creature for her novel long before.

The original 1931 film also starring Boris Karloff as the monster and Colin Clive as Dr. Frankenstein, sparred and still spars controversy because there's very little resemblance between it and Mary Shelley's Gothic novel. The original film was based more on a stage production of the same name. So for the sequel, now that Whale had further backing from the studio, he decided to more or less take the material from the book that was left out for the original film and incorporate it with a new story to make a worthy sequel. And he did.

The film picks up almost immediately where the first one ended. Dr. Frankenstein turns out to be alive after being thrown from the burning windmill by his own creation, who then later turns out to have survived the collapse of the mill and is on a new rampage throughout the country. The movie focuses on two stories. The monster and its excursions and Dr. Frankenstein's acquaintance with another discovery-hungry scientist (Ernest Thesiger), who has also stumbled upon a way to instill life into the dead.

I personally am not the biggest fan of the original 1931 "Frankenstein", so I had not so high hopes for "Bride of Frankenstein." Its ostentatious opening did not really boost up my spirits, but I was delighted to see how moving and beautiful and poignant the film became afterward. For once I felt sympathy for the monster. Boris Karloff is no longer simply waving his arms about and grunting, but he's displaying a wide variety of emotions that were described in the original book, such as this very moving and classic scene where he befriends a blind hermit while being hunted. I was enthralled by Colin Clive's performance in the first movie, but he outdoes even that classic image in this sequel as the scientist who has learned from his mistake about playing God. Ernest Thesiger is also very good as the maniacal Dr. Pretorius. And the inclusion of a music score, more elaborate special effects, more characters, and a broader budget really boosted the results.

In a way, the movie deserves a different title. Not only does "Bride of Frankenstein" sound ludicrous (and it's wrong, since it's the monster who desires a bride, not Frankenstein), but the whole subject of the monster's bride has very little to do with the story. If I had the nerve to re-title a classic, I would pick something more appropriate for this film, but nevertheless, it doesn't detract away from my enjoyment levels.

I still say that the first "Frankenstein" picture is an overrated film, but its sequel is more than worthy of its title as a classic. I started out rolling my eyes, but ended up being really absorbed by the story. For it's not only about the monster rampaging or Frankenstein going mad.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Hollywood's Strangest Sequel?
slokes5 June 2007
The only thing odder than director James Whale making "Bride Of Frankenstein" after "Frankenstein" would have been if George Lucas had made "The Empire Strikes Back" as a musical.

Whereas "Frankenstein" presented a serious-as-death horror flick, "Bride" presents us with over-the-top comedy. The continuity is off, with some characters like Victor and the Baron disappearing. Others reappear played by different actors. Most seriously, the most important role, and one played by the same character, goes from being a mute walking corpse to a chatty dancing machine, albeit still with homicidal tendencies.

Okay, the Monster (Boris Karloff) doesn't dance so much as bob his shoulders in time to violin music, and his chattiness is mostly monosyllabic. Though last seen pinned under a burning rafter, he emerges in "Bride" none the worse for wear. Soon he is loose in the countryside again, while Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) is approached by the mad, amoral Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger). Pretorius demands Dr. Frankenstein take responsibility for his creation and replicate his "success" by building another beast.

The comedy of "Bride" would be more welcome if it worked within the context of horror. Instead, it feels absurd for the sake of absurdity, like Una O'Connor playing the hysterical servant Minnie or the tiny people Pretorius keeps in jars. "Frankenstein" works as an exercise in existential bleakness. "Bride" plays itself off as a nihilistic joke, less a true horror film than a Monty Python bit with lamer humor.

What does work in the film is Karloff as the Monster. Despite the miscue of letting him speak this time, Karloff does bring empathy to his role. It's enough to almost allow for Whale's unsure handling of his character. Half the time the creature is a mad killer, and the other half of the time, merely misunderstood. At least with Karloff at the controls, you know the Monster will give the right amount of chills, and he does.

Also good is Dwight Frye, returning from "Frankenstein" this time in the role of another henchman figure, just as compellingly creepy. Thesiger is also compelling that way, a lively figure amid an otherwise sleepy cast. "You and I have gone too far to stop, nor can it be stopped so easily," he tells Frankenstein. To the Monster's comment "I love dead...hate living", Pretorius deadpans: "You're wise in your generation." He's a bit problematic in his arch drollery, but at least he adds to the proceedings, even if he distracts from the film's menace.

Whale doesn't do nearly so well with the other actors. Even Clive seems miscast playing the role he established so effectively four years before. The story goes off in weird, unresolved tangents like the strange fate of the Neumanns that never are properly explained. None is weirder than the opening, where we see Frankenstein's creator, Mary Shelley, with her lover Percy Shelley and their friend Lord Byron. I should say "Lorrrrrd Byrrrrron" for the way the guy rolls his R's. (I enjoyed "haygraphs" bright comment from March 2004 about how the prologue has the characters "looking back" on events taking place a century hence.)

Whale may be celebrated today as an early gay director, but his penchant for jump cuts, awkward close-ups, and florid overacting should have stayed in the closet. "Bride" may have a certain camp sensibility its enthusiasts enjoy, but as a horror film it is neither scary nor successful.
22 out of 37 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed