Written by: William Hurlbut
Starring: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Elsa Lanchester, Ernest Thesiger, E. E. Clive
Humans attempting to imitate God did not play out so well in the feature preceding Bride of Frankenstein but even a monster desperately seeks some level of affection. Going back to the well works out so well in the efforts to ask similar moral questions with just as disturbing answers. This film proves to not only be a worthy sequel but yet another horrific look at the gross ambitions of men.
Following the windmill incident presumably killing The Monster (Boris Karloff), it comes to the surprise of many to learn about its survival. Now well alive and hoping for a companion, the Monster teams up with another scientist to coercively convince the original creator, Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) to create a partner.
The conflicting elements of Bride of Frankenstein contribute to its lasting appeal following off the creation of something as horrifying as the original. A moralistic lesson in its own way, this repetition only further solidifies the dangers of the original while also depicting the issues of creation for the sake of another. It’s difficult not to sympathize with The Monster after not asking to be born and essentially damaging everything it touches unintentionally. It’s what led to the original mobs when he accidentally drowned the young girl and now he has every living thing he knows hating his very existence. The only level of unfiltered compassion he receives comes from a blind man who cannot physically see the monster’s face or stature. It makes sense why he would want someone created who will match him and possibly care for him. However, the mistake remains integral to this very desire.
Henry’s actions in creating the monster certainly defied the limits of what humans should be able to do in the world of science. It’s agreed by most individuals in the story, even to Henry himself, that the actions of creating The Monster unequivocally was wrong. Having this acceptance by most makes the decision by The Monster a bit hypocritical at the same time. He understands the pain being brought to life in such an unceremonious manner had on it so why should The Monster inflict such a thing on yet another reanimated corpse. It becomes something The Monster never truly wrestles with because of its insatiable need to have someone to connect to. Quite the cross between yearning for acceptance while also reveling in a sense of misogyny.
Everything in this film builds up to the creation of this bride for The Monster. From the initial want from The Monster to the harsh coercion utilized for Henry to get back involved with such a heinous act. Even the trailer builds up into the anticipation of what this bride could potentially look like. If the monster gave any indication, it probably would not be walking on a runway with the way the bodies are assembled. This burning curiosity becomes the focal point of the story and getting there comes with its own bit of surprises, including the length of the bride’s appearance in the actual film.
Much like in the original, Boris Karloff does a phenomenal job with the very physical performance for The Monster. He certainly receives more screen time in this sequel and he does not waste it by adding the proper nuance needed for telling the story of this character for all to see. The camera captures his stature in such a daunting way thus showing why anyone who would come across The Monster would rightfully be scared. Bits of The Monster’s humanity peek through Karloff’s performance to give a reminder of the childish nature of this monster and how quickly it needs to grow up in order to survive. The idea of fearing every human who comes across its path because they will attempt to kill you puts The Monster in such a perilous situation and Karloff does incredibly well to espouse this feeling in every interaction held.
While never reaching the heights of the original, Bride of Frankenstein raises its own concerns with valid answers coming towards the end. It makes the perilous ideas of reanimating life even more destructive as doing it once caused its own issues, but occurring a second time can only make things worse. It features a monster trying to connect with something that would not instantly hate it and a man trying to rectify the mistakes of his past. Women seemingly get tossed into the fray and danger because of the feelings and desires of these men, all encapsulated by the ending.