Spooky Season and the Truth of Bride of Frankenstein
Ah, spooky season. The time of year when children are discussing which Star Wars character or Disney Princess they would like to be for trick or treating and the reappearance of everyone and their cousin’s unasked for opinions regarding candy corn. There is also another image that pops up everywhere: Frankenstein’s monster and his creepy bride. Their likeness appears on t-shirts, welcome signs and mats, salt-and-pepper shakers, and really anything else that can be covered in green skin and crazy hair. Yeah, this image of a happy couple is super cute if you’re into the whole gothic romance thing but ultimately it is a horribly false representation of a rather flawed pairing.
In 1935, the sequel to a cinematic edition of Mary Shelley’s incredible novel was released. Bride of Frankenstein stars Boris Karloff, Elsa Lancaster, and Colin Clive and revisits the themes of sadness associated with loneliness and rejection that saturated the original story. But, alas! A solution for the monster! Why not make him a mate? The poor being didn’t ask to be created and his entire existence has been full of trying to find someone who would look past his odd exterior of rotting flesh to see that he is more than just a science experiment.
The twists and turns that Frankenstein’s Monster finds himself struggling through the world around him as he attempts to find a friend are just reiterating the moral matter that Shelley, a bit of a dark romantic herself considering her late-night soiree on her own mother’s grave, originally explored in her groundbreaking story. All the Monster wants is a pal. Despite his dedication and multiple attempts, he is rejected. There are moments in which he feels a small fraction of acceptance and platonic love but they are stolen away, leaving the Monster feeling lonelier than before.
These emotional gaslighting actions send him into a rage, scaring the nearby villagers with his ungodly facial and body features and his loud roar that echoes through the sky. His massive figure adds to the fear and the Monster does not know how to control his own strength. The more havoc that is released onto the village, the more the residents cower in fear for their lives. The Monster is completely unaware that while he is stomping around, looking for someone to relate to, a supposedly perfect companion is being created in the same lab where he took his first breath.
Elsa Lanchester’s portrayal of The Bride, the second monster created by Frankenstein, is an iconic cinematic image. Her hair is in the tall dark updo with a wave of white on both sides that are reminiscent of a lightning bolt, similar to the one that jolted pure life into her mismatched bones. Her lips and eyes are covered in dark makeup that accentuates her facial structure perfectly in the black and white setting, but the stitches around her neck reminds the audience of the flesh from which she is created from. Her outfit is made of bandages to stop the oozing from the decaying skin that is stretched across her frame. She is beautiful in a dark and creepy way: the original gothic girlfriend.
Three minutes is the total time of the titular character’s role in her own film, yet it only takes a second for her to become an icon. The Bride does more in her short appearance than some modern horror films do with over an hour of run time! She is remarkable, her wide eyes with a peculiar stare that is asking any on-looker, “WHAT IS GOING ON?”, and her white dress with layers of bandages for arms.
The irony of this second creation is that she too is afraid of Frankenstein’s original experiment! Once she is brought to life, the Monster’s facial expression shows that he is struck with true ‘love at first sight’. He takes her hand and with a huge smile on his enormous face he strokes it, not noticing that his love interest is shaking with fear. His ignorance of her true feelings disappears when her shrieks begin and all the feelings rejection the Monster has ever felt come flooding back in. He runs to the lever that will ‘blow everyone to atoms’ as Dr. Pretorious states, and a single tear comes from the Monster's eye. The screams yet again sound from the Bride’s mouth and he pulls the lever. The building blows, eventually tumbling down with Frankenstein and his own lover watching.
I apologize for potentially spoiling a movie that came out in 1935 but if you haven’t seen the film, don’t delete this from your ‘Spooky Movie Watchlist’ just yet. The cinematic approach is revolutionary even now and a complete classic that is made for both the amateur and professional horror fans of every age. Just remember what became of the couple next time you see the Monster and the Bride on a coffee mug or kitchen towel as they hold hands with cute, smiling faces. Bride of Frankenstein is the perfect vintage visual tale that shows the outcome of a match made in hell.