“Alone, bad. Friend, good.”
Justin’s rating: A hair-raising experience!
Justin’s review: Frankenstein might have put the iconic monster at the forefront of pop culture in the ’30s, but what really propelled it into the realm of a franchise was the direct sequel that came out four years later. It also opened the door of the Universal Monsters to admit a woman into its club.
And what a woman! Bride of Frankenstein created just as unique and memorable of a look for its titular monster. But instead of making her into a hulking, cut-together corpse, the Bride retains her beauty and supplements it with a bold wig and a pair of bulging eyes.
Told as the continuation of Mary Shelley’s story (to her overacting-to-the-nines friend Lord Byron), this film picks right back up where the original Frankenstein ended. It turns out that, shocker, the monster didn’t die in the burning windmill after all. Somehow he falls down into a pit of water and then comes back out for some exuberant murder. Also not dead is Dr. Frankenstein after being thrown down several stories onto the rocky ground.
As the monster resumes his terror across the countryside, Frankenstein is coerced by his former mentor, Dr. Septimus Pretorius, to make another happy zombie. Pretorius is upset that on his own, he’s only created super-tiny people (including a miniature mermaid for whatever reason), which is why he wants to glom on to a successful project and will use any method at hand to make it happen. So thus we discover that even highly trained doctors like to use juvenile peer pressure to get each other to violate the laws of medicine and nature to make unholy abominations.
Meanwhile, the monster takes a break in his homicidal rampage to befriend a blind recluse. This poor dude is so lonely that he spends time teaching the monster how to talk and — in perhaps the movie’s most hilarious scene — how to smoke cigars. “Smoking… GOOD.” Remember that, kids, when you’re coughing up your lungs later in life!
Unfortunately, the movie takes just about forever to get around to making the titular bride. I’m not even exaggerating much here: The Bride comes to life at the 69-minute point, after which she enjoys a scant five minutes of screentime before the movie ends. The only thing she does is scream at seeing the monster and lurch away. So really, this is more accurately “extra material from Shelly’s Frankenstein novel with a bad Tinder date at the end.”