The Bride of Frankenstein - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Bride of Frankenstein Reviews

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October 9, 2014
Commonly viewed as the best of the Frankenstein films, to me it lacked the genuine nature of the first and almost came across as a parody.
Super Reviewer
September 22, 2014
Building on the excellence of the first film with more wit, vision, and pathos, the Sequel of Frankenstein continues the Grand Guinol tradition of its classic forebear while upping the creative ante, gifting filmgoers with the greatest monster movie of all time. Still working from Mary Shelly's novel (the film even brilliantly provides an introduction with Shelly, her lover, and Lord Byron discussing the story's development), the creature gets imbued with the power of speech while visiting a blind hermit while trying - but failing to the screams of many - to be accepted. It's possibly the most human of monster movies, soliciting sympathy for a patchwork man who didn't ask to get made. Searching for companionship, he demands a mate and visionary director James Whale demands full creative control. Atmospheric to an unforgettable degree, the film proves even more Expressionistic than the last chapter without qualifying as Expressionism. Technically, even beyond lighting and sets, Bride of Frankenstein's set design and scope is an absolute technical marvel.

In this unrated horror classic, Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) becomes forced to tempt fate once again when the monster (Boris Karloff) and an equally mad scientist (Ernst Thesiger) demand a suitable mate (Elsa Lanchester) for his creation.

Of course, it helps to have such epically great players. In an age when cast and crew return for a second or tenth go-round without question, Bride's revolutionary status seems less than groundbreaking. But Colin Clive and Boris Karloff develop their already fascinating characters further under Whale's specific direction to great effect. Most importantly, this macabre masterpiece winningly employs a great degree of humor, dipping its toes into camp without becoming campy.

Bottom line: Monster High
August 28, 2014
A monster and his beloved dead bride!
½ August 12, 2014
Ignore the cheesy choreography, 'graphics', and among other outdated things that make movies good today...

And this is honestly a good movie.
July 8, 2014
I enjoyed the film plenty a great sequel to the original. It continued the story well my only complaint is that the bride of frankenstein did not come out until the end.
July 1, 2014
One of those rare sequels that is actually worthy of its predecessor. Karloff returns as the monster, and Clive as Frankenstein. Karloff adds more personality to the Monster, while Clive reluctantly obliges his monster with a Bride. A fantastic, simple, yet original work of cinematic art.
½ June 1, 2014
Human soul can always be more terrifying than a monstrous outlook.
½ May 1, 2014
After the instant success of Frankenstein (1931), Universal Pictures wanted a sequel, and they got Frankenstein's director James Whale back, and they worked together on finding a suitable plot. Pitches and ideas came and went, but they returned to a passage from Mary Shelley's book that was never adapted for the first film, and that was the genesis for this film, which is a very compelling film. After the events of the first film, Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) and his Monster (Boris Karloff) are seemingly killed, but they weren't. They survived, but only just. Frankenstein is nursed back to health by his fiancée Elizabeth (Valerie Hobson), during his recovery, Frankenstein is visited by old mentor Doctor Septimus Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger), who wants to help him create a new monster. Meanwhile, the original monster has taken refuge at the house of an old blind hermit (O. P. Heggie), who teaches the monster human feelings and emotions. Meanwhile, Frankenstein and Pretorius create a female version of the monster... This one has more heart and feelings over the original film, and it's actually a more compelling and original film too. It has some good scares for it's day, and Whale created not one but two iconic movie monsters with this film, and it's a doomed love story as well, tragic as well as compelling in equal measure.
½ May 1, 2014
Much better than the original, the monster speaks, for one. Nice intro with Mary Shelly, and an interesting title; was this a mistake, or deliberate. The bride of Dr Frankenstein plays a critical role in the film but I suspect that the bride of the monster, who plays a very minor part, is the intended subject.
April 6, 2014
Still very enjoyable, Karloff is hands down the best on-screen monster of all time, and the general quality is high making a solid horror classic. The tragic element of the monster is well realised adding more interest and bite. An unmissable classic.
March 26, 2014
The Bride of Frankenstein hasn't aged magnificently, but it still counts as one of the classic Frankenstein movies and one of Karloff's best.
March 12, 2014
James Whale's Bride of Frankenstein is surely even more odd, over-the-top, visually exciting, and terrifying than its 1935 release, because we are more conscious of its undertones of macabre and violation.
½ March 9, 2014
Better than the original. Karloff is amazing. The creature is really made human and sympathetic here. Your heart breaks at all his attempts to be loved and his constant rejection. The only scene I can complain about is the patently absurd display of the evil scientist's little people.
½ March 6, 2014
A great horror movie
March 6, 2014
5/5 *
Possible better than its predecessor, The Bride of Frankenstein advances upon its themes while being all the better frightening.
February 19, 2014
"Bride of Frankenstein" was probably one of the first movie sequels ever made, although interestingly enough, it's more like the second half of an adaptation of the Mary Shelley novel, since certain aspects of both movies are present in the novel; today, they probably would've made just one long movie that combines them, a la 1994's "Mary Shelly's Frankenstein."

This movie actually begins with a scene where Mary Shelley (Elsa Lanchester) is basically recapping what happened in "Frankenstein" as we see flashbacks. I'm not sure why they needed this whole opening scene; they just as easily could've had the clips of the first movie by themselves. But whatever; the movie officially begins immediately where the last movie ended. The villagers have destroyed the windmill, and the Monster (Karloff) has supposedly died. But the movie begins with Little Maria's father (Reginald Barlow) looking down into the pit where the windmill once was, because he wants to make sure the thing that killed his daughter has died. But he falls in, and finds the Monster still alive, where he strangles him.

So after that, the Monster escapes, and the majority of the movie is spent with him roaming around the countryside trying to escape and heal from his injuries. It's a different film than the first one; the characters are fleshed out a little more and put in different situations. This isn't just for the Monster but Dr. Frankenstein (Clive) as well. In this film, he wants to stop his experiments for good at the encouragement of his fiancée Elizabeth (Valerie Hobson). But in comes Dr. Pretorious (Ernest Thesiger), who wants to persuade Frankenstein to create another monster.

This is where the movie starts to get really good. Thesiger really envelopes this role as the new mad doctor; he's such a cocky jerk but at times darkly humorous, particularly in the scene where he first meets the Monster. Pretorious has also created life, but instead of stitching bodies together, he shows Frankenstein tiny people in bottles that he somehow created. It's a quirky little scene, not exactly funny but it's still worth admiring the effects. For 1935, it's quite impressive.

The Monster has much more to do this time. He doesn't just lumber around and grunt anymore; he takes part in scenes that give him the chance to portray numerous emotions. He gets shot at, chained up, burned, and we thoroughly sympathize with him. There's the famous scene where he wanders into a cottage and encounters a blind hermit (O.P. Heggie). He finds nothing frightening or dangerous about the Monster, because he doesn't know what he looks like; all he wants is a friend, as he teaches the Monster how to talk, eat, drink and even smoke. This whole sequence is half humorous, half heart-warming; it's one of my favorite movie scenes, period.

So eventually, the Monster comes across Pretorious, who promises the Monster a mate. Frankenstein refuses to cooperate, but the Monster captures Elizabeth, forcing him to comply. By the way, Pretorious has two assistants, with one of them played by Dwight Frye, who played Fritz in the first movie. It's a totally different role, since he's not hunchbacked, but I feel like they could've gotten someone else if they wanted. Believe it or not, this isn't the last time he inhabits a different role in a "Frankenstein" film. Whatever; they create the Bride (Elsa Lanchester), she rejects the Monster, and, grief-stricken, he brings the whole castle down with Pretorious, the Bride and himself inside. It's action-packed and epic, but I do question how all he had to do was pull a lever; why did Frankenstein build his own castle that could self-destruct so easily, maybe even by accident?

But it doesn't matter; they needed a way to end the film, and this was fine with me. A few minor notes. The Bride is played by Elsa Lanchester, who played Mary Shelley in the prologue. She has the crazy hairstyle and looks appropriately freaky, but I want to mention how in the beginning and end credits, the Bride is only credited with a question mark. In "Frankenstein," they did the same thing with the Monster in the beginning; however, at the end, they revealed Karloff's name. And why exactly is this film called "Bride of Frankenstein"? This isn't Frankenstein's bride; he does have a bride, but it isn't the monster bride. It should be called "Bride of Frankenstein's Monster" or something. But there's even a moment where Pretorious proclaims, "The bride of Frankenstein!" It only furthers the confusion of who Frankenstein is; it drives me nuts sometimes.

But what else is there to talk about? Well, I should mention that Elizabeth is played by Valerie Hobson this time, and I prefer her to Mae Clarke; she just seems more convincing and supportive in the role. I like her scenes with Frankenstein, and I also really like how even though he realizes how much trouble his experiments have caused, he's still tempted. There's also little old Minnie, played by Una O'Connor. Again, she does little more than scream like a crow, but this is an over-the-top performance that fits very well. She's hilarious in her reaction shots and some of her dialogue.

Everything about this movie is top-notch. While the first film had some unnecessary moments, everything about "Bride of Frankenstein" feels important. The characters all have either a large bearing on the story or are very entertaining, the story is strong and everything is further developed. It might be my personal favorite of the Universal monster movies. It also marked the end of Mary Shelley's source material. The following sequel, "Son of Frankenstein," had an entirely different story, but a very well-crafted one. Karloff then left the franchise, leaving the role of the Monster to several different actors, and would eventually return in a different role in 1944's "House of Frankenstein."

Regardless of all this history I'm giving you, the first two "Frankenstein" films are as tightly bound together in their continuity and quality as the first two "Terminator" films or the "Back to the Future" trilogy. In my opinion, though, the second film has the most to offer. It's a first-rate product all over the map; it's a tighter story and has better execution.
February 18, 2014
Campy and delightful, "The Bride of Frankenstein" introduces humanity (and possibly homosexuality?) to the previously evil monster to fantastic results.
February 5, 2014
Empire, T2, X2, the rare sequel that surpasses it's classic predecessor. Bride of Frankenstein was the first to do this. An interesting and fun opening featuring a character based on author Mary Shelly telling her husband and Lord Byron that there is more to Dr. Frankenstein's tale than they know. And indeed the first movie ends halfway thru where the book would be. Boris Karloff is even better this time around as director James Whale outdoes himself in this amazing monster movie. Nearly 80 years later, it still holds up.
½ February 2, 2014
The Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale, 1935)

NOTE: it seems silly to post a spoiler alert for a film that was made in 1935 and has been this widely-discussed, but this review does contain spoilers. Proceed with caution if you have not seen it.

I have been hearing about The Bride of Frankenstein for nigh on forty years now, since the first mass-market monster movie paperbacks I picked up in the mid-seventies. And yet, somehow, I had never gotten around to actually seeing the movie until earlier this week. Given that the film's iconic image is that of Elsa Lanchester just awakened and gazing upon her prospective groom for the first time, I have to say I rather expected Lanchester's role here to be a great deal meatier than it actually is. Paradoxically, however, it is her minuscule amount of screen time that lends the film much of the enduring power it has obviously had over critics; as of this writing, the canonical 1000 Best Movies list at They Shoot Pictures, Don't They? ("canonical" because it is, likely, compiled from a larger number of professional critics than any other list, three hundred forty-seven)'s most recent update, in February 2013, has The Bride of Frankenstein at #308. Over the years I have read any number of times that it is better than the original; the blurb at TSPDT as I write this, from Roger Ebert, even kicks off with his assessment that Bride is "...the best of the Frankenstein films...". (Frankenstein itself, on that same list, resides at #471.) I am guessing that, if you follow my reviews at all, me uttering the phrase "I do not agree" will be as much of a surprise to you as, say, the fact that the sun rises in the east.

Plot: If you'll recall the original Frankenstein, or at least James Whale's filmed version, the monster is trapped in a mill and burned alive, or as alive as Frankenstein's monster can actually be. In the opening of the film, we have a flashback to the party that started it all, and Mary Wollestonecraft Shelley (Lanchester) and that gang coming up with ways that the story might be continued. And so there we are in the fantasy world again, where a worried member of the mob-the father of the young girl the monster accidentally drowned in the first film-heads into the burning wreckage and plummets through the floor into an underground lake where, he discovers, the monster (Boris Karloff, reprising his role) has not perished at all. Mad at humanity, and with pretty good reason, the monster becomes what people thought him to be in the first film-a truly nasty piece of work forced to take to the woods to avoid being killed on sight. Meanwhile, Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive, also reprising his role from the original), has sworn off crazy experiments and wants nothing more than to live in obscurity with his bride-to-be Elizabeth (Kind Hearts and Coronets' Valerie Hobson), but is approached by sinister Dr. Pretorius (The Man in the White Suit's Ernest Thesiger), whose own research dovetails with Frankenstein's, and attempts to convince him that the two should collaborate. When Frankenstein refuses, Pretorius resorts to extortion, and the two set about building a mate for the monster.

Good stuff indeed, and I certainly didn't mean to imply in that first paragraph-as I read it over, I think I might have-that this isn't a bang-up film and a worthy sequel to Whale's original. But, let's be kind, Whale has all the light touch of a mallet to the head; it's not exactly subtle, especially with the country in the throes of Prohibition, to draw the parallel between the monster deciding that he has a liking for potent potables and his degeneration into, well, a monster. (That the end of the film comes in what is, by that time, a rare moment of sobriety for the beast is even less so.) Frankenstein himself is an interesting character study here; he starts out cardboard, the archetypal white knight, about as interesting as he is colorful now that he's given up his experiments, and his "degeneration" into a man of science (this parallel is not, I think, unintentional) makes him more interesting as the film goes along-especially in relation to Pretorius, whose aura never moves one centimeter from black, black, black.

A good film? Yes. A great film? Arguably. As good a film as its predecessor? In my humble opinion... not on your life. *** 1/2
January 21, 2014
Whale's sequel brings even more pathos to the creature, and Elsa Lanchester is simply stunning in her brief scenes as the Bride, and as Mary Shelley in the opening moments of the film.

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