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Film / Bride of the Monster

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"He tampered in God's domain."

Bride of the Monster (originally known as Bride of the Atom) is a 1955 Sci-Fi Horror film starring Bela Lugosi and produced, directed and co-written by Ed Wood. A sequel, titled Night of the Ghouls, was made in 1959, but went unreleased for decades.

The story follows one Dr. Eric Vornoff (Lugosi), who's been experimenting with nuclear power in a primitive laboratory in his mansion, in an effort to create an army of mutated supermen to do his bidding. Intrepid newspaper reporter Janet Lawton (Loretta King) starts investigating, as do the local police, including Janet's boyfriend, Lt. Dick Craig (Tony McCoy). Meanwhile, an Eastern-bloc agent named Prof. Strowksi (George Becwar) appears and tries to persuade Dr. Vornoff to return to their homeland; instead, he gets fed to Vornoff's pet octopus-monster for getting too pushy. In the end, Vornoff is betrayed by his assistant, "Lobo" (Tor Johnson), after whipping him one time too many, gets turned into the very monster he was trying to create, and is then blown up in an atomic explosion.

The only Ed Wood-directed film to turn a profit. For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, see here.

Tropes associated with this work:

  • Author Appeal: Lobo shares Wood's fetish for angora, stroking Janet's garment lovingly.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Eric Vornoff, the Mad Scientist trying to make the supermen.
  • Bottomless Magazines: About 20 bullets are fired from Lt. Craig's revolver and it's never reloaded.
  • The Cameo: William Benedict, of child actor group the Bowery Boys, appears as a newspaper seller.
  • Covers Always Lie: The Legend Films DVD release cover features a Dracula era Lugosi looming over a woman wearing a bridal veil and a dress that turns into tentacles halfway down, making it look like Vornoff's plan is to turn people into octopus monsters.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Oh so Ed Wood. Angora, cheap effects, sexually laden dialogue, it's all there.
    • The cinematography by Ted Allan and William C. Thompson, however, is remarkable. Some have noted The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari influence.
  • Damsel in Distress: Janet in the hands of Eric Vornoff.
  • Deus ex Nukina: That was one unstable octopus.
  • Dirty Communists: Strongly implied about Strowksi.
  • Everything Explodes Ending: The final scene is a nuclear blast.
  • Evil Plan: Dr. Eric Vornoff seeks to create a race of atomic supermen and Take Over the World.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: His "monster" is a genetically engineered octopus, and he has designs on Super-Empowering normal people into a superhuman slave army.
  • Funny Octopus: The film makes use of a prop octopus that gets Bela Lugosi in its clutches (though Bela has to toss the tentacles over himself for the effect). Supposed to be "evil" but clearly in the "comical" category.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: Recurring in the film, and mentioned specifically in dialogue. It is mentioned that there is a storm every night for the last three months.
  • He Tampered In God's Domain: Vornoff learns the fate of making nuclear octopi.
  • Send in the Search Team: Strangely averted. Twelve persons have disappeared in a swamp area. When the police discovers the abandoned car of Janet within the area, indicating she is the 13th missing person, you could expect someone to organize a search party. Nope, her concerned, police detective fiancé and his partner instead rush... "to a coffee joint about ten miles back".
  • Stock Footage: It rarely matches with the scenes in which it is used.
  • Swamps Are Evil: Most of the film takes place in a swamp or the sole residence within it. It seems filled with natural death traps, as several scenes demonstrate. A cop muses that "This swamp is a monument to death. Snakes, alligators, quicksand, all bent on one thing — destruction!"
  • Take Over the World: Vornoff dreams of creating "a race of atomic supermen" to conquer the world in his name.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Lobo is fascinated with Janet and at some point approaches her with lustful intend, ignoring Eric's commands to leave the room. Eric grabs a nearby whip and whips the mute servant into submission.
  • Tentacled Terror: Mad Scientist Dr. Vornoff keeps a giant octopus in a tank in his lab and releases it to kill intruders.
  • They Called Me Mad!: Which is why Vorloff left his homeland in the first place. "But here, in this forsaken jungle hell, I have proven that I am all right!"
  • Too Dumb to Live: 12 people have disappeared near the old Willow place. Do the police search there? Nope.
  • Touch of the Monster
  • Weather Dissonance: Characters note that the near-constant rain is unnatural for their area. At one point Dick Craig and his partner Marty discuss the situation. "Something strange about this rain. Lightning's been going crazy too. Maybe, it's like the papers say — all these atom bombs explosions, distorted the atmosphere". It is implied that Vornoff's experiments may be affecting the weather, but the lines seem to also reflect then-contemporary anxiety about climate change.
  • When It Rains, It Pours: The film opens to a torrential downpour of water, with two hunters caught outside and trying to find shelter.
  • When Props Attack: The notorious scene in which Dr. Vornoff gets attacked by his own giant octopus. Reportedly, the prop was stolen from another studio's store, but a vital electric motor was forgotten, forcing Lugosi to manipulate the prop himself.
  • Wild Child: Lobo might be a grown-up version. Eric has been wandering the globe for twenty years, and claims to have discovered Lobo in the wildnerness of Tibet.
  • The Worf Effect: The brutish strongman Lobo is easily beaten and killed by the empowered Vornoff.
  • The X of Y
  • You're Insane!: Strowski is perfectly OK with the notion of Vornoff creating a "master race" to conquer the world. But he thinks this race should serve their homeland. When he hears that Vornoff wants to conquer the world in his own name, he replies with "You are mad".