Vic’s Classics – “The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935) Mini-Review


What’s it About?

After vowing to step away from his dark experiments, Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) is blackmailed into creating another fiend (Elsa Lanchester) — this time, in female form — who will serve as a ghoulish bride for his infamous monster (Boris Karloff).

“The Bride of Frankenstein”

Directed by James Whale

10 out of 10

By Vic

I believe I actually saw this film, the 1935 sequel, before the first. As a kid I thought it just another Frankenstein movie. Upon more viewings, the film makes an impression that lasts very long after the film ends. It continues with the Gothic feeling of the original but this film includes so much more. First and foremost is the emotion and believability that the first film somewhat lacked. In this film the Frankenstein creature learns to speak and is able to voice his pain and want for a mate like him to share eternity with.

The film continues right after the first ends and Boris Karloff and Colin Clive return. James Whale (who was the subject of the film Gods and Monsters) directed this film with incredible vision. The lighting is dim and shadows pronounced. Whale is a set director and he relishes on playing the camera to those sets to make dramatic impressions.

“The Bride of Frankenstein” is a touching film with well placed humor, intensity and precise dialog delivery. The portrayal of Dr. Frankenstein, played by Clive, is a bit enigmatic but surreal. He is in turmoil after having created what most of the villagers see as a complete, murderous creature. It takes a blind man who cannot see what the creature looks like to accept him as a friend. This is one of the most heart wrenching moments of the film.

James Whale does not do sentimentality at all and provides very visceral images of the creature and of his bride to be. And let us not forget the bookends of the film. This film starts off with Elsa Lanchester portraying Mary Shelley who tells her horrific tale of the modern “Prometheus” to her husband Percy Shelly and their host on a stormy night. How is that for a set up? The film proper then takes over and ironically Lanchester is seen again as the bride when she delivers one the most chilling and intense screams upon seeing her mate for the first time. What a climax! Also,  Ernest Thesiger co-stars as Frankenstein’s deranged mentor, Dr. Septimus Pretorius, who forces the doctor’s hand by kidnapping his wife played by Valerie Hobson.

“The Bride of Frankenstein” at times provokes fear, disgust and heart breaking emotion. It has the feel of a poetic theater play with great sets and make up. Karloff acts through it and raises the bar for actors who portray beasts. Whale’s direction of the camera and his actors are a revelation I highly recommend this classic. So go ahead and watch it on a dark and stormy night. I dare you.

Enjoy the “Bride of Frankenstein” Gallery below!

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"The Bride" by "Hellboy" creator Mike Mignola
“The Bride” by “Hellboy” creator Mike Mignola

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Art by Mike Mignola
Art by Mike Mignola
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    • Oh I agree, Dave. It is so ahead of it’s time and has such a deep resonance that many modern films lack. Thanks for reading!

  1. This is not just a case of the standard Sequel is as good or better than the original. Whether you think Empire is better than A New Hope it doesn’t take away from the original’s greatness. But what this proved was not only a sequel that improved and continued but rather showed us that the original movie had flaws we overlooked. It’s a shame that the other Universal Monsters were never able to create a great sequel with their films. They just felt like early examples of cash grabs.

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