Review: Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Bride of Frankenstein
Directed by: James Whale
Starring: Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester and Colin Clive.
Based on: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Genre: Horror
Released: April 1935
by Universal Pictures
Running time: 75 mins (1 hr, 15 mins)
Rating: ★★★★

IMDb | View Trailer

Dr. Frankenstein and his monster both turn out to be alive, not killed as previous believed. the doctor wants to get out of the evil experiment business, but when a mad scientist, Dr. Pretorius, kidnaps his wife, Dr. Frankenstein agrees to help him create a new creature, a woman, to be the companion of the monster.

Final Universal Monster film! I have heard from reviews that Bride of Frankenstein is one of those sequels that is better than the original, so it’s fair to say that my expectations were pretty high for it. I’ve wanted to see how the Bride is created since she is pretty much the only iconic female monster.

The film begins with Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron discussing Frankenstein during a thunderstorm. Mary (played by Elsa Lanchester, who also played the Bride) then continues on the story which starts where it finished, with the villagers burning down the mill where the monster has hidden. Despite the title, most of the film focuses on Dr. Frankenstein being pressured into creating a new creature by the incredibly odd Dr. Pretorius. There is also a big sub-plot involving the Monster which I enjoyed more than the main plot because it was kind of cute to see the Monster gaining a more human side (a cute horror film? yes, indeed). My favourite scene in the entire film involves the Monster befriending a blind man who teaches him about good and bad. One point of the plot that I didn’t like was the fact that the Bride herself doesn’t appear in the film until the last five or ten minutes. I was expecting her to be a much bigger part of the film since she is the title character.

Unlike Frankenstein, the majority of the actors in Bride of Frankenstein are British, which was a bit of a relief because the accents are a lot more convincing (even though the film is set in Switzerland). I liked the majority of the characters, but the one character that I just could not bring myself to like was Dr. Frankenstein’s housekeeper, Minnie, who was played by Una O’Connor. Her constant shrieking and ‘I told you so’ attitude became very hard to chew and I wished that someone would slap a piece of tape over her mouth.

Dr. Pretorius, who was created by Whale for the film, was a pretty interesting character. He is much, much more irrational and even crazier than Frankenstein was in the first film and gave the film more character and personality than the other characters. He also added to the campy humour of the film and was even absurd at times, which made him more a “mad scientist” than Frankenstein ever was.

There’s a huge cliche that sequels are not as good as the first in a series, but Bride of Frankenstein gives that cliche a huge slap in the face. I enjoyed this film more than Frankenstein but the fact that the Bride herself doesn’t appear very much at all let it down just a little bit. The title is a little bit misleading. But, that aside, the film is incredibly enjoyable.

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