Halloween Movie Countdown #10 – The Bride of Frankenstein

#10 – The Bride of Frankenstein 1935

To a new world of gods and monsters!”

The Bride of Frankenstein is, obviously enough, the sequel to Frankenstein, which was released in 1931 It picks up right where the events of the first film leave off.  (SPOILER ALERT for those of you that still don’t know how the original Frankenstein ends, despite the fact that it predates FM radio:  The Monster knocks Henry Frankenstein unconscious and carries him off to an old wind mill.  The torch-carrying village mob follows to discover the Monster has carried Frankenstein to the top of the mill where he chucks him from the roof.  Some of the villagers carry Frankenstein’s body away while the others burn the mill to the ground, presumably destroying the Monster.)  

It turns out (again, SPOILER ALERT) that neither Frankenstein, nor the Monster are dead.  While Henry is recuperating in his castle, his former mentor, Dr. Pretorius shows up.  Pretorius has been up to some mad science of his own.  He unveils several of his own creations for Frankenstein:  miniature people that he keeps in glass jars.  He wants to partner with Frankenstein to make a mate for the Monster, who is currently somewhere on the loose after murdering a couple of villagers during his escape from the ruins of the burned out wind mill.

Everyone is familiar with Mary Shelley’s story of the Frankenstein Monster.  It has been adapted, interpreted and reinterpreted several different times since director James Whale’s original 1931 version. But, The Bride of Frankenstein is, in my opinion, one of the rare times that a sequel surpasses the original movie.  This sentiment is not unique:

The film’s reputation has persisted and grown since its release. In 1998, the film was added to the United States National Film Registry, having been deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”.[40][41] Frequently identified as James Whale’s masterpiece,[42] the film is lauded as “the finest of all gothic horro movies”.[43]Time rated Bride of Frankenstein in its “ALL-TIME 100 Movies”, in which critics Richard Corliss and Richard Shickel overruled the magazine’s original review to declare the film “one of those rare sequels that is infinitely superior to its source”.[44] In 2008, Bride was selected by Empire magazine as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.[45] Also in 2008, the Boston Herald named it the second greatest horror film after Nosferatu.[46]Entertainment Weekly considers the film superior to Frankenstein.[47] (Wikipedia)

Although a tame movie by today’s standards, The Bride of Frankenstein encountered several problems with the local and national censorship boards of the time.  Among the elements that issue was taken with were: the film’s comparisons to Frankenstein and his work with that of God, its violence, and other sexual imagery.  My favorite objection came from the Japanese.  They objected to the scene where Dr. Pretorius chases around his miniature Henry VIII creation with a pair of tweezers because it was “making a fool out of a king.”  Lordy lordy!  Had Universal cut that scene, maybe the Japanese wouldn’t have bombed Pearl Harbor.

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One response

  1. You’re absolutely right! This movie is one of the rare exceptions of a sequel that surpasses the original. Gene Wilder did a great job with “Young Frankenstein” borrowing the best from both movies. Nice blog.

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