Archive for Ernest Thesiger

Bride of Frankenstein

Posted in Classics, Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

On a stormy night, Percy Bysshe Shelley (Douglas Walton) and Lord Byron (Gavin Gordon) praise Mary Shelley (Elsa Lanchester) for her story of Frankenstein and his Monster. Reminding them that her intention was to impart a moral lesson, Mary says she has more of the story to tell. The scene shifts to the end of the 1931 Frankenstein.

Villagers gathered around the burning windmill cheer the apparent death of the Monster (Boris Karloff, credited as “Karloff”). Their joy is tempered by the realization that Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) is also apparently dead. Hans (Reginald Barlow), father of the girl the creature drowned in the previous film, wants to see the Monster’s bones. He falls into a pit underneath the mill, where the Monster strangles him. Hauling himself from the pit, the Monster casts Hans’ wife (Mary Gordon) into it to her death. He next encounters Minnie (Una O’Connor), who flees in terror.

Henry’s body is returned to his fiancée Elizabeth (Valerie Hobson) at his ancestral castle home. Minnie arrives to sound the alarm about the Monster but her warning goes unheeded. Elizabeth, seeing Henry move, realizes he is still alive. Nursed back to health by Elizabeth, Henry has renounced his creation but still believes he may be destined to unlock the secret of life and immortality. A hysterical Elizabeth cries that she sees death coming, foreshadowing the arrival of Henry’s former mentor, Doctor Septimus Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger). In his rooms, Pretorius shows Henry several homunculi he has created, including a miniature queen, king, archbishop, devil, ballerina and mermaid. Pretorius wishes to work with Henry to create a mate for the Monster and offers a toast to their venture: “To a new world of gods and monsters!” Pretorius threatens to expose Henry’s part in the Monster’s creation if he doesn’t help with creating a mate for the monster. Pretorius tells Henry that he will get the right parts for the body while Pretorius grows an artificial brain.

The Monster saves a young shepherdess (Anne Darling) from drowning. Her screams upon seeing him alert two hunters, who shoot and injure the creature. The hunters raise a mob that sets out in pursuit. Captured and trussed to a pole, the Monster is hauled to a dungeon and chained. Left alone, he breaks his chains and escapes.

That night the Monster encounters a gypsy family and burns his hand in their campfire. Following the sound of a violin playing “Ave Maria”, the Monster encounters an old blind hermit (O. P. Heggie) who thanks God for sending him a friend. He teaches the monster words like “friend” and “good” and shares a meal with him. Two lost hunters stumble upon the cottage and recognize the Monster. He attacks them and accidentally burns down the cottage as the hunters lead the hermit away.

Taking refuge from another angry mob in an underground crypt, the Monster spies Pretorius and his cronies Karl (Dwight Frye) and Ludwig (Ted Billings) breaking open a grave. The henchmen depart as Pretorius stays to enjoy a light supper. The Monster approaches Pretorius, and learns that Pretorius plans to create a mate for him.

Henry and Elizabeth, now married, are visited by Pretorius. He is ready for Henry to do his part in their “grand collaboration”. Henry refuses and Pretorius calls in the Monster who demands Henry’s help. Henry again refuses and Pretorius orders the Monster out signaling him to kidnap Elizabeth. Pretorius guarantees her safe return upon Henry’s participation. Henry returns to his tower laboratory where in spite of himself he grows excited over his work. After being assured of Elizabeth’s safety, Henry completes the Bride’s body.

A storm rages as final preparations are made to bring the Bride to life. Her bandage-wrapped body is raised through the roof. Lightning strikes a kite, sending electricity through the Bride. Henry and Pretorius lower her and realize their success. “She’s alive! Alive!” Henry cries. They remove her bandages and help her to stand. “The bride of Frankenstein!” Doctor Pretorius declares.

The excited Monster sees his mate (Elsa Lanchester) and reaches out to her. “Friend?” he asks as he slowly approaches. The Bride screams rejecting him even when he makes an advance on her. “She hate me! Like others” the Monster dejectedly says. As Elizabeth races to Henry’s side, the Monster rampages through the laboratory grabs onto the lever. When Henry doesn’t want to leave Pretorius, the Monster quotes to Henry and Elizabeth “Yes! Go! You live!” To Pretorius and the Bride, he says “You stay. We belong dead.” While Henry and Elizabeth flee, the Monster sheds a tear as the Bride hisses at him and pulls a lever to trigger the destruction of the laboratory and tower. Henry comforts Elizabeth after the tower is destroyed


 Bride of Frankenstein picks up immediately where  Frankenstein left off.

This will be a relatively brief review, as I am in a bit of a rush…I apologize.

I think we are fairly familiar with this story. Frankenstein’s monster is lonely, so his creator and a madman mentor decide to create a mate. You’d think they would have learned this can lead to nothing but bad things.

The film, on its way to the climactic bringing to “life” of the bride seems to be an endless series of ways the monster can cause havoc on accident, while infuriating the townspeople, who are already after him.

I haven’t read the book, but it just seems like they could have done something more with him than basically reducing him to a giant Dennis the Menace, if you will.

When the bride is finally revealed, I couldn’t help but picture Helena Bonham Carter. Don’t ask me why, I just did.

As with many classic films, you have to set aside your modern-day way of thinking, otherwise you’ll be bored. By today’s standards, Bride of Frankenstein drags on a bit, but when this film was released, you can bet audiences were on the edge of their seat for every minute.

Some have said this is a superior film to Frankenstein. I can’t agree with that statement. For me, this was just a sad attempt to inject a female monster into the mix filled with males such as Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, etc. Regardless of whether the book came first or not, that is just what it felt like to me. Kind of like the way Arcee was forced down our throats starting in Transformers: The Movie and continuing today. Would I recommend this to anyone? Yes, but with reservations. If you have the choice, go for Frankenstein, but you won’t necessarily go wrong with Bride of Frankenstein.

3 out of 5 stars