A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal ape who takes a shine to their female blonde star. He is then captured and brought back to New York City for public exhibition.
Dr. Frankenstein and his monster both turn out to be alive, not killed as previously believed. Dr. Frankenstein 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.Written by
John Oswalt <email@example.com>
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. See more »
As the film begins. Mary Shelley's book Frankenstein hasn't even been published, placing the time as before 1816. And the time of the story is even earlier. Yet Pretorius opens the crypt of a girl who died in 1899, and connects Henry with his kidnapped wife via a "strange electronic device" (a crude telephone} that has to be 20th century. Most of the costumes - men in suits and hats - look straight out of the '30s. See more »
[Lord Byron looking out the window at a thunderstorm]
How beautifully dramatic! The cruelest savage exhibition of nature at her worst without.
[turns to face Mary and Percy Shelley, both seated]
And we three. We elegant three within. I should like to think that an irate Jehovah was pointing those arrows of lightning directly at my head. The unbowed head of George Gordon, Lord Byron. England's greatest sinner. But I cannot flatter myself to that extent. Possibly those ...
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The closing credits have the heading "A good cast is worth repeating". See more »
Reactions to this, James Whale's ageless masterpiece, are varied; some say it just could be the Greatest Horror Film Ever Made, some think it's just an overblown tongue-in-cheek comedy sham. Probably Whale himself would have been the first to label his picture a "farce", but count me among those who think it's a brilliant piece of work, well in consideration as one of the undisputed top-tier horror classics of any decade. It qualifies as horror, but mostly plays along more like a child's twisted storybook fantasy. It's renowned as one of the few movie sequels which may be considered even better than its original (in this case, that would be James Whale's 1931 FRANKENSTEIN). While I think both films are excellent, with the first being more serious in tone than its follow-up, I'd give the hair's edge to BRIDE.
Boris Karloff returned to portray the Frankenstein Monster, and he gives what is easily one of his finest performances. Here, the scarred creature emerges from the charred windmill he was burned in, and falls into the unscrupulous hands of the demented Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger, note-perfect in a part he seems born to play). Pretorius was once a colleague of Henry Frankenstein, the monster's creator (Colin Clive), and now connives his way back into the disinterested Frankenstein's life just as he's about to wed his fiancé, Elizabeth (Valerie Hobson). This time, the idea is to fashion a female for the creature, and Pretorius enlists the hulking Monster as an anxious partner into his scheme.
Karloff gets to talk as the Monster in this film, and while the actor himself believed it was a mistake to give the creature speech, I must respectfully disagree; it made him even more pitiable and human. The film's most wonderful sequence features the wandering creation stumbling awkwardly into the hut of a lonely blind hermit, who cannot see and therefore is unable to judge the Monster strictly from his unnerving physical appearance. Instead, he offers the creature food, water, and a place to sleep, while teaching him the most basic forms of communication. It is a truly great cinematic moment.
There is very little to quibble about within this film (Valerie Hobson's hysterical Elizabeth comes the closest at achieving that), and Whale's passion for lightweight comic relief in his horror films works perfectly. Aside from Thesiger's Pretorius, much of that comes courtesy of Una O'Connor, who is a delight as Frankenstein's sniveling maid. Elsa Lanchester immortalized herself forever with her electrified hairdo as the Monster's intended Mate, and she is also seen early on in a dual performance prologue as the more dainty Mary Shelley, the author who "penned the nightmare". Franz Waxman's glorious score punctuates the wondrous proceedings. **** out of ****
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