Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Bride of Frankenstein (1935) - The List Hero Review

The sequel to James Whale's 1931 film is superior to its predecessor in many ways.  The key ingredient for me here is the development of characters (which I will get onto later).  I began watching the film with a degree of doubt after believing the monster to be dead at the end of the first movie... however, the way that this is dealt with in the opening sequence of the movie is a credit to its makers.  Onto the plot and we have a major conflict of interests as Henry Frankenstein, again played by Colin Clive, is approached by the wonderfully evil Doctor Septimus Pretorius, portrayed brilliantly by Ernest Thesiger, in order to create a mate for his monster and toasts to a new world "of Gods and Monsters!"  Frankenstein does not want a repeat of his previous mistake and we finally get a sense of how this central character (who we know so little about from the original film) is actually feeling.

Meanwhile, the monster is making its way through the woods when it stumbles upon a friendly blind man.  Here, we see more character development and feel that the monster doesn't really want to hurt anyone but doesn't know how to communicate his feelings.  Again, the movie is giving me an understanding of the character and now I can begin to feel for him... something that was severely lacking in the first film.  As a result, the blind man teaches him how to speak.  The plot then takes a few more twists and turns, making it a much more interesting flick than the previous film.

However, despite its major improvements, the film still has problems;  the monster goes from being to say "drink" and "good" in one scene, to being able to hold a full conversation in the following scene...  highly unlikely!  There is the annoying cockney "comedy" servant who is intended (I'm assuming) to offer some light relief but just comes across as silly.  Plus, there is still a major lack of creepy horror that modern cinema-goers would expect - the scene when the monster kidnaps Elizabeth is a great chance to build a bit of haunting tension... but never does so.

On the whole, a major improvement from the first but modern audiences will still find it lacking in some areas.
Rating: a respectable 3 out of 5.

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