Call us naïve, but in 1993 when my cousin and I went to the theater to see Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, we both thought Jason would actually be in hell fighting demons or doing something in the netherworld. As it happened, the only people who were in hell were us because the movie sucked. I’ve watched it a few times more over the years and it still sucks, but I’ll watch it again, in the near future, to see if my opinion has changed.
The Bride of Frankenstein does not have a lot of the Bride in it, but it does not suck. My young heart faltered at the lack of the Bride’s screen time way back when, but it’s at least a great movie (I’m still sore about Jason Goes to Hell, clearly). For what little time she’s on screen, she makes the most of it– she’s nearly as indelible a figure as the mate she was assembled for.
One dark and stormy night, Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley complement Percy’s wife, Mary, on the remarkable feats of horror in the story she wrote for them concerning Dr. Frankenstein and his creation, the Monster. The events relayed are the events of the previous film. They can’t believe that such a beautiful young woman, a lady no less, could conjure such terrifying imagery.
Mary, in not so many words, tells them, “But wait! There’s more!” The creation of the Monster, its rampage and the, seeming, destruction of it were just the beginning. There’s still more to this twisted tale of the scientist who would play a game of God and try to beat the odds.
The Bride of Frankenstein then picks up immediately after Frankenstein. The Monster survived the torch-bearing, pitchfork-wielding mob and hid in the caverns below the windmill. Hans, father of Maria, whom the Monster killed (accidentally) in the first movie, wants to see the body of the creature with his own eyes for the sake of closure. That’s a mistake as the Monster kills him. The Monster flees only to be captured. Underestimating its strength, the Monster easily escapes his captors.
Henry Frankenstein, the scientist to end all scientists, at first believed to be dead, survived the inferno of the windmill, also. He returns home to recuperate where his mentor, Septimus Pretorius (the name to end all names) prods the fragile Henry to continue his research into the unknown. To encourage him, Pretorius shows Henry the collection of teeny, tiny humans he himself has created. Henry decides to give the God game another go by creating another person, this time a woman.
While his maker is looking over the little people, the Monster finds refuge with a kind, blind elderly gentleman. The Monster learns to, crudely, talk and discovers not all people are bad (it helps that the old man is blind). When two hunters arrive at the shack, they recognize the Monster and try to kill it. The Monster fights back and, inadvertently, burns down the old guy’s home.
Still seeking safe shelter, the Monster meets Pretorius. The scientist, who gives mad scientists a bad name, tells the Monster he and Frankenstein are making the creature a mate so it won’t be so lonely. In Pretorius’s world, plans like this never backfire. Not so in the movies.
Is The Bride of Frankenstein better than Frankenstein? It’s like comparing apples and oranges, or David Bowie’s original version of “The Man Who Sold the World” to Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged rendition: they’re both rock solid.