Tuesday, May 3, 2016
The Bride of Frankenstein
So, this is another of those movies that's more famous for its level of pop culture osmosis than for actually being seen. A fair amount of the parody Young Frankenstein (another List film) is taken from The Bride of Frankenstein, rather than Frankenstein itself. This also sets up that apparently the Preservation Board adores the Frankenstein's Monster character, as four films featuring him are preserved. No other character has that distinction. Even Dracula is technically only on the List once, though in original English and Spanish dubbed form, it's the same movie. The Bride of Frankenstein does veer a little closer to the book in attempting to make the Creature more sympathetic and more articulate, and even adds in Mary and Percy Shelley and Lord Byron. That part is an odd little scene, because the conceit is that Mary is telling the sequel to the tale she told the last time... which was set in the 1930's, and judging by most of the costumes, still is. But she's still the historical figure of Mary Shelley, telling the tale in 1817. She's amazingly presentient about the fashions of the future, since Elizabeth again spends this film impeccably dressed.
Anyway, this movie not only introduces the comic old lady in Minnie (famously recreated as Frau Blucher), but also the old blind hermit, who has somehow acquired cigars. I thought the idea of a hermit with cigars was just a gag for Mel Brooks, but no, that's actually a plot point in the film. The old hermit teaches the Creature to speak, to eat, to drink, and to smoke. "Smoke good, fire bad". The film also introduces the very camp Dr. Pretorious, who has succeeded in growing tiny human forms that he plays dress-up with and keeps in bottles. He also enjoys blackmail, fancy coats, and picnics in crypts. He's a riot. He's also the one that convinces Henry Frankenstein to make the Bride, using parts from random dead ladies, including a few murder victims. Pretorious isn't really the snuggly type. Again, a major plot point from the book is never addressed. There, you have some excuse, as Mary Shelley was presumably ignorant of a few facts of reproduction - Victor Frankenstein destroys the nearly completed Bride out of terror that She and the Creature will reproduce. Apparently the idea of just leaving out her uterus or ovaries never occurred to him. In the film, Pretorious is all for the Creatures having Creature babies, so I guess that explains that, except why does he think they'd be able to reproduce? But it turns into a moot point anyway, because the Bride is horrified by her Bridegroom, and after maybe five minutes of screentime where she spends the entire time screaming and hissing, the Creature kills everyone except Henry by knocking the tower down. Though a good monster can't stay dead, and he reappeared a few years later in The Son of Frankenstein. Dude needs to learn that collapsing buildings just isn't a good suicide method.
Overall, this movie was a lot of fun. It made the jokes in Young Frankenstein a lot funnier. It also opened up a lot of questions to a nitpicker like me, but I had a roommate on hand reminding me to just go with it. I'm not supposed to look for logic in a classic monster movie, I'm just supposed to enjoy the ride. And I definitely did.