February 3, 2014

Oldies Reviews

I, Frankenstein might have disappointed, but we can always look back on the good incarnations of the Monster, or look back at the worse. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) is sequel to 1931's Frankenstein based off of Mary Shelley's novel of the same name.  

This black and white film begins directly as the first film ends, with the villagers parading around the burning mill in which they have trapped Frankenstein’s monster (Boris Karloff)  Luckily, the Monster escapes the fire while the villagers turn their attention to the belief that the Monster has murdered his creator, Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive). When Henry comes to live with his fiancee, Elizabeth (Valerie Hobson), he finds that the Monster is destructive to mankind and is a misdoing, trying to create something out of God’s will. Frankenstein plans to leave the village with his Elizabeth, but Frankenstein's former teacher, Dr. Septimus Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger), confronts him and hopes that Henry will help make a mate for the Monster.  Dr. Pretorius is not quite satisfied with his own creations. He needs the help of Henry, who refuses. Bride of Frankenstein is a film that expands the mythology of the Frankenstein series. 

Meanwhile, as the Monster looks for refuge.  Even after all the horror the Monster has caused, the audience is given sympathy toward the Monster as he struggles to find something to live for. With the same plot of the Monster being captured and escaping, the story starts to finally pick up when the Monster and Dr. Pretorius team up against Henry Frankenstein—making him create a mate for his previous monster. By this point the story is nearly over. The creation of the Bride happens roughly twenty minutes before the film ends, giving us relief that the two creatures will live on in a weird happily ever after.  But alas, when the Bride (Elsa Lanchester) comes to finally meet the Monster, she is appalled and so the Monster ushers his creationist away, thus pulling the one lever in the whole place (much like the infamous big red button) and blows up himself, Dr. Pretorius and the Bride. A classical Dues ex machina for a story suffering from a plausible ending. 

In this post modern-era, it is difficult to see the appeal of such an old film.  The makeup during this time definitely gives a timeless chuckle of what was perceived as scary, but knowing that the Monster was an unpredictable creature composed of dead humans and an unnatural force against God, possibly made it much more scary to audiences at this time. With technology booming around this time period, science and technology were highly debated subjects.  Dialogue is like most dialogue during this Hollywood period. Fast paced among the actors and with the addition of one mumbling word from the Monster, it makes for a yawn-fest. The film tries for sympathy toward the Monster as he begins to gain human emotions and effortlessly looks for a friend willing to see him as just misunderstood, which is a cheesy, but classic trait placed in films regarding monsters or any other unnatural entity. Bride of Frankenstein piggy-backs off the success of the first film while bringing the same elements from other scientific or supernatural horror films around that time. It never pushes the limits or delivers the unexpected. During a time with technology and science were were unknown and fearful, The Bride of Frankenstein wouldn't fright anyone. The slow pace and the ending, questions as to why this film was even titled about a character we see for five minutes. This movie never built up to the Bride and never gave us the grand story it deserved.

Grade:  C

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