Director James Whale originally did not want to do a sequel to Frankenstein (1931). For a time, Universal considered producing a sequel without Whale's involvement. One possible story included an educated monster continuing Henry's research, while another chronicled Henry's creation of a death ray on the eve of a world war. However, after 4 years of badgering by Universal, Whale agreed to do the film.
Boris Karloff protested against the decision to make The Monster speak, but was overruled. Since he was required to speak in this film, Karloff was not able to remove his partial bridgework as he had done to help give the Monster his sunken cheek appearance in the first film. That's why The Monster appears fuller of face in the sequel.
Marilyn Harris, who played Maria, the girl The Monster accidentally kills in the original Frankenstein, appears uncredited as another young girl. She is the leader of the group of young schoolgirls who encounter the Monster as he runs away from the blind man's burning house. Director James Whale deliberately gave her a one-word line ("Look!"), so she would be paid more by the studio as an actor with a speaking role, instead of as an extra.
Though virtually all of Billy Barty's scenes (as the little baby in the bottle) were deleted, he can still be briefly glimpsed in a wide shot of all the bottles on Dr. Pretorius's table (as well as in still photographs).
The role of the monster's mate was originally offered to Brigitte Helm but she had recently married and refused to leave Germany. Louise Brooks was another actress considered by James Whale for the role.
The tiny mermaid in Dr. Pretorius' bottle was Josephine McKim, a member of the 1924 and 1928 U.S. Women's Olympic Swim Teams and one of the four members of that team to win the 1928 gold medal in the 400-Meter Freestyle Relay. McKim was also Maureen O'Sullivan's body double in the infamous nude swimming scene of the previous year's Tarzan and His Mate (1934).
Elsa Lanchester was not the only person to have a dual role in this film. In addition to her role as Minnie, Una O'Connor also appeared in the prologue, as Shelley's maid who is holding the leash as the dogs go off screen.
Jack P. Pierce altered the make-up of Frankenstein's monster from this film's predecessor to reflect that he had survived the mill fire at the end of Frankenstein (1931) with some flesh burns and with much of his hair singed off.
Film Daily-New York City,Tuesday, May 7, 1935: Differences between the Roxy and the Rialto theaters as to which house to to get "The Bride of Frankenstein" were settled yesterday when the management involved agreed upon a compromise under which the Arthur Mayer (the Rialto) operation will play another Universal Pictute, "The Werewolf of London", while the Roxy gets "The Bride of Frankenstein." The settlement cancels an injunction which Mayer asked in the Federal Court, New York. Under the booking deal participated in by both theaters, the Rialto is play action pictures while the Roxy gets films described as family pictures. Mayer contended that "The Bride of Frankenstein" came within his classification and started proceedings against Howard S. Cullman, operator of the Roxy, and the Big U exchange.
When filming the scene where the monster emerges from the burnt windmill, Boris Karloff slipped and fell into the water-filled well. Upon being helped out, it was discovered that he had dislocated a hip in the fall. The hip was strapped into place and Karloff soldiered on. He continued to receive massage and heat treatments for the hip for the rest of the shooting of the film.
Production of this sequel to the original Frankenstein (1931) was publicized as early as 1933 by both Universal Studio press releases and the trade paper "Daily Variety", but director James Whale did not begin work on it until late 1934. With a budget under $300,000, it was originally entitled "The Return of Frankenstein".
One of James Whale's criteria for taking up the director's reins on the film was that he would have complete artistic freedom. This was easily achieved, as Universal's studio head Carl Laemmle Jr. was vacationing in Europe at the time.
As a result of audience reactions from the film's preview screenings during the first week of April 1935, the film was extensively re-edited. Many scenes were deleted and trimmed, and at least one, the scene where the Monster stumbles into the Gypsy Camp, was added in. As a result of the editing, the original uncut film was approx. 15 minutes longer than its official release length of 75 minutes.
Elsa Lanchester was only 5'4" but for the role was placed on stilts that made her 7' tall. The bandages were placed so tightly on her that she was unable to move and had to be carried about the studio and fed through a straw.
It is considered inaccurate to refer to the Monster by the name "Frankenstein" rather than "Frankenstein's Monster", however in the prologue, Lord Byron actually does attach the name Frankenstein to the monster.
During the "bottle" sequence in Dr. Pretorius' apartment, the Doctor, while showing Dr. Frankenstein the miniature "devil" character, makes a wry comment that he sees a "certain resemblance" between him and his tiny creation. In fact, the miniature devil in the bottle was played by Peter Shaw, who was actually actor Ernest Thesiger's stand-in/film double in the picture.
The scene in which the monster encounters the Gypsy camp was filmed shortly before the scheduled release date as a substitute for a scene that had been edited out after sneak previews because of censorship concerns. Since the scene was filmed long after the completion of principal filming - and after the film's musical score had been completed - the Gypsy camp scene is the only segment of the movie that has no musical score.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
When the castle is self-destructing, the Doctor can be seen against the far wall. Yet he is next seen outside in the arms of his beloved, watching the explosions. There were two endings originally: the first had Doctor Frankenstein dying within the castle and this was filmed. But the producers judged this a bit harsh and wanted a happy ending, so they shot the extra footage (too expensive to re-film the explosions).