The most famous hairdo in movie history.
"To a new world of gods and monsters!"
— Dr. Pretorius
The 1935 sequel to the 1931 film Frankenstein
, this is widely considered to be the best of the old Universal Horror
movies. Boris Karloff
and Colin Clive reprise their roles as the monster and Dr. Henry Frankenstein, respectively, while Ernest Thesiger joins the proceedings as as Dr. Septimus Pretorius and Elsa Lanchester plays the eponymous Bride.
We begin in the home of Lord Byron
, entertaining his friends Percy and Mary Shelley as a storm rages outside
. At Byron's urging, Mary continues the story of Frankenstein, picking up about where the original film left off
Henry Frankenstein just barely survives
the collapsing windmill, but so does the monster
. Shortly thereafter, Frankenstein receives a visit from his old mentor, Dr. Pretorius
, who wants to join forces and continue Frankenstein's experiments to create life. In one of the movie's most memorable scenes, Pretorius shows Frankenstein a series of little people in jars, including a mermaid
, a ballerina and a little devil
. Pretorius can make people, but he can't get them up to normal size. Frankenstein, meanwhile, has created a giant. And so Pretorius proposes a plan: Frankenstein will provide the body, and Pretorius will provide the brain.
Meanwhile, the monster has several encounters with angry villagers and is eventually taken in by a kindly old blind hermit. The hermit teaches the monster to speak, and is the only friend he's ever had. Naturally, the villagers show up and drive the monster away, and he goes to a graveyard to find solitude among the dead. And whom should he happen to meet but Dr. Pretorius gathering parts for the new creature
. Enticed by the possibility of having a friend, the monster forms an alliance with Pretorius.
Frankenstein, meanwhile, is getting cold feet about creating another monster. In a sequence reminiscent of the original novel, the creature and Pretorius kidnap Frankenstein's young bride, Elizabeth
, and threaten to kill her unless he makes the monster a mate. It all leads up to an explosive conclusion in Frankenstein's laboratory, where the new monster has finally been born.
One thing to note: Although the monster is childlike and rather sympathetic
, he still kills people — a lot
of people. Film historians put the original death count at 21, but it was edited down to 10
due to the film content restrictions of the time
. At one point the monster seems to break into an elderly couple's house and kill them just because
. Like King Kong
's tendency to eat people, the monster's violent nature is often glossed over to facilitate a "we are the REAL monsters
The franchise was continued in Son of Frankenstein
The Bride of Frankenstein, despite rather short screen time, is one of the eight Major Universal Monsters.
Bride of Frankenstein provides examples of:
- Not Quite Dead: The Monster is thought to have died within the burning windmill, but he simply fell through to a cavern below.
- Oh Crap: Henry's reaction when he learns that the heart of a "young victim of sudden death" as he requested Karl to get was "A very fresh one" and a "police case".
- People Jars: Dr. Praetorius shows off his work in creating life— little people (and a mermaid— "an experiment with seaweed") — in jars.
- Previously On: Lord Byron brilliantly recaps the previous film's events as being the story that Mary Shelley wrote. Considering they mention that the novel hasn't even been published yet, this may make Byron something of a naive psychic.
- Psychopathic Manchild: The monster, due to him possessing the brain of a criminal. He murders several people but doesn't do it for any particular reason until the end when he kills Pretorious. He just doesn't understand his own actions or the world around him until he's taught some very basic ethics by the hermit.
- Rage Against the Reflection: After seeing his reflection on water, the monster splashes it angrily.
- Science Is Bad: Partially subverted. The reformed Dr. Frankenstein is forced by evil Mad Scientist Dr. Pretorius to return to his old ways. The twist: Early on, Pretorious shows us his collection of tiny humans in glass jars, practically announcing that he's Mephistopheles. To this, Frankenstein replies, horrified, "This isn't science!" Here, sane Science Is Good, and has standards, but Black Magic Is Bad.
- Self-Destruct Mechanism: Pretorius' tower comes down in a series of explosions when the Monster pulls a certain lever. Its actual purpose is never told.
- Shadow Archetype: Dr. Pretorius is what Dr. Frankenstein would become if he were to give in to the For Science!-method of thinking.