Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Film #49: Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

“Everybody, needs somebody.
Everybody, needs somebody to love.
Sweetheart to miss.
Sugar to kiss.”

If anyone knows what the Blues Brothers were signing about here, it is Frankenstein's monster.
All the brother wanted was a nice wife to snuggle with, or hell, at least a friend to share a smoke.
Seems like a simple enough want… yet one Frank never fully received during his short time on earth as shown in this week’s film “Bride of Frankenstein.”

Taking a page from the Phantasm masterpieces, sequel “Bride” begins exactly where the first Frankenstein movie left off. An angry mob has forced Frankenstein's monster and his creator Henry Frankenstein onto the roof of the local windmill. Frank throws his daddy off the roof, and that pisses of the villagers. When Frank's pet peeve fire causes the building to crumble, and the man-made monster is seemingly destroyed.

The cops tell all the rubberneckers to get back to their useless lives, but after the ruckus dies down we learn that Frankenstein survived the fall and fire, and has come out the other side more pissed off at the world than a November 2008 Republican.

Turns out that Henry Frankenstein also survived his brush with the angry mob, and he is returned to his fiancée with the promise to never create life from death again (yeah right, once a mad scientist, always a… well, you know the saying.)

That night, a mysterious former professor of Henry’s, Doctor Pretorius, shows up trying to convince Henry to create again. Seems old Pretorius has been playing Mohammed as well, creating miniature people from scratch using nothing more than old toenail clippings and duct tape.
Pretorius says that by combining his technique for original tissue creation with Frankenstein's ability to reanimate dead body parts, the two could finally create a normal living person… this time, A LADY!

Meanwhile, monster Frankenstein wreaks havoc on the townsfolk. But he is no longer the wandering, ultraviolent beast portrayed in the first film. Now old Frankie is actually using that heart installed by Henry, showing viewers his sensitive side.

Seems all the old boy wants is a friend! A compadre! A brotherman! A boi-e! He’s soooo lonely!
Frank takes up with a blind man who can’t see his hideousness, and the man teaches Frank how to talk, smoke cigars, and get drunk (all the basics of life). But their friendship is short-lived when yet another angry mob splits up their man-time. WHY OH WHY CAN’T FRANK FIND SOMEONE TO LOVE!

When Henry refuses to help Pretorius with his dream work, sneaky Pretorius catches up with Frank and says with the green man’s help, the two can make Henry create him a friend for life – an undead wife!

Will Frank finally get the companionship he has longed for? Will a lady monster be less killy?
Watch, in the 1935 horror classic “Bride of Frankenstein.”

RDHP Ratings and Review

C-Rating: 4.7
Chris Dimick growls:
“Just ask Frankenstein. Making friends is hard, especially as an adult.
As a kid, friends came as natural as the crapping your pants and fist fighting with your brothers. You'd meet friends everywhere, on the school swing set, at the short corner of your street, in the baseball diamond outfield. And it only took one shared interest or interesting personality trait for the two of you to become insta-friends.

But as an adult, new friendship is hard to come by. My heart goes out to Frankenstein in this flick, who is a grown man (physically at least) on the search for a non-online social network. Adults have already carved out their circle of friends, and found their niche within that circle (there couldn't be two mumbling undead monsters in a group! It'd be madness!).

Sure, adults meet new people all the time; have conversations with friendly employees in the work cafe, chat it up with a neighbor when passing on the street, swap friendly pleasantries during breaks in one's beginning ballet class (what, I'm trying to get limber).
But those acquaintances rarely ever cross the line into friendship -- the point where you exchange phone calls for weekend plans, invite each other over for illegal firework displays, gain opinions on strange rashes, or email to bullshit about what the Cubs are gonna do next year (my prediction, WORLD SERIES, baby!).

Much of this film made me very depressed for poor old Frankenstein. He was portrayed in Bride more as a mushy man-child than manic-monster. Overall, I'd have to disagree with those who feel Bride is superior in quality to the original Frankenstein film.
Sure, it was more entertaining, with its zany comedy and sentimental monster. But where it excelled in excitement it lacked in atmosphere and storytelling. The first Frank was epic and haunting, an exploration of the consequences of man finally using science to surpass "God."
Bride was fun, but when assembling this monster film director James Whale forgot to insert the guts. However, he did insert an oversized heart -- and my own bled for the humanized Frankenstein and his quest for friendship.

Frankenstein had an added disadvantage to making friends... he was a reanimated assemblage of dead body parts wrapped around Abby Normal's brain. But even when he got a few tips on improving his personality, poor Frank still couldn't find a friend, let alone a date.

Word to Frank before hitching his Lady Frankenstein, things get even more complicated when you are a married adult and try to find new couples to hang out with. This situation throws in two additional people to the chemistry mix, and the friend-beaker usually flares out in disaster.

As a person ages, the quality of friends becomes more important than the quantity, typically the goal of friend collecting teens and 20-somethings.
People become more picky over who they hang out with with age, and shrink down their true "friends" to a select group while still collecting "acquaintances."

Something that has taken me decades to learn, and that Frankenstein should take to heart, is the following on friendship. Your friends are wonderful people that truly do make your life more spicy, interesting, enjoyable and even bearable. But it is your family, Frankenstein, that will always pick you up when you are down, celebrate you when riding high, and instill sage advice when confused and in-between. Why? Because they have to.

I know you have daddy/creator issues, but grab a six pack of Pabst and hug it out with Henry Frankenstein! Then, work on your self-esteem issues. I saw how you punched your reflection in that lake in this film.
After all, you have to love yourself before others will."

N-Rating: 3.0
Nick Rich growls:
"What I want to know: how do they know Frankenstein's monster is green?
Sure there's a book that most likely details the hue of his skin and yes we could look to the Technicolor posters for a clue... but that could all be a conspiracy! A marketing ploy to hook you with a non-existent angle in order to get you to check out this flick!

Well... I'm fairly certain at this point that Bride of Frankenstein doesn't need the help enticing people to watch her (she is after all a 'classic'), but I wonder how people back when BoF was released reacted to the Monster being green. Did it blow their mind? Did it entice them? I'd like to think I would have wondered why he was green - after all I am in the horror business and know my corpses - but in all honestly I most likely would have been ignorant to corpse color. Circa 1935 I highly doubt I would have had regular exposure to decomposing bodies (or at least I hope so), so may not posses the knowledge that decomposing flesh doesn't turn green (gray however is an entirely different subject). So, the fact that the Monster was green may have very well instilled a sense of horror in my heart ("Golly gee, he's so dead he's green!").

Well Monster, I'm sorry to say that you (nor your green skin) instilled a sense of horror in my heart over the course of BoF... and that breaks my organ of existence almost as much as the Monster's repeated attempts to connect with others breaks his. BoF is such a classic that it is difficult to take on for the first time as a modern day viewer (yes, I confess I'd never seen BoF before our viewing, and yes, the rumors are true, I've still yet to see the original Frankenstein. If this disturbs you greatly I suggest focusing on other world issues more disturbing). I mean, we're talking about Frankenstein's Monster here! We all grew up seeing his face plastered (usually with a stupid smile) everywhere once a year. His fame has become so prolific that the reason he became famous has become irrelevant to most people (they call him Frankenstein for Pete's sake! His name is Franekstein's Monster people!), which in its own way is as sad as the Monster's plight in BoF. In essence, one of the most iconic instruments of horror has been neutered to sell cereal. I wonder if 40 years from now Freddy Krueger's likeness will be used to sell PopTarts.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is BoF had some handicaps against it going in, which is why I think I had a less than stellar experience watching it. I think most 20 to 30 somethings will have the same issues enjoying BoF as a horror movie; there's just too much shared history about it. It's like finally meeting someone a friend has gushed to you about incessantly - all of the build up sets you up for a let down. I wanted to be transported to a simpler time and feel the terror that those of yesteryear must have experienced (or so I thought they experienced). Instead I saw the original and it felt a caricature.

Frankly (oh, yes, I went there), I was expecting more from the Monster. I guess being famous has its drawbacks (I'd heard the rumors but never believed they were true).

BoF felt more like a comedy most of the time than a horror flick (it started out with Nancy boy's trilling prose! What the what?!?!). I can totally see how Frankenstein met Abbot and Costello came about - it was a natural progression of the groundwork laid in BoF. Which is fine in its own way (like when you support diversity, but aren't thrilled when your child comes home looking like this), but disappointing when it happens to a monster with the pedigree with Frankenstein's. Sure there were some interesting camera angles (or so Chris pointed out to me), but the characters felt unbelievable (punctuated by Frankenstein employing his trademark "it's ALIVEEE!" When the Bride begins to move) and that made the film feel a bit hokey. The most compelling aspect of the film was the Monster's search for companionship, but the genuine emotion you felt for him sat awkwardly with the tone of the rest of the film. At its best BoF is a sob-story about a lonely, lost soul; at its worst a vaudeville show you didn't plan on seeing.
I'm sure a second viewing knowing I was in for some vaudeville would make it more enjoyable, but I think deep down a part of me would still lament I couldn't find the companionship I was looking for... much like Frankenstein's Monster.

The Skinny: check this flick out if you want to understand/examine what it is like to be a woman experiencing PMS or if the pitty party you're throwing about your life goes on a bit too long."

Things We Learned From Bride of Frankenstein:
-The line between making friends and killing them is thin.
-Jew-fro's are never fashionable.
-Lord Barron is England's biggest sinner, not Harry Potter.
-Dandies are dandy, but liquor is quicker.
-Tush-tushing someone was real burn in the 1800s.
-All kings are horny, especially small ones.
-Alone, bad. Friend, good.
-Unkempt hair is a sign of insanity.
-Fire, bad:

Quote of the Viewing:
[Dr. Pretorius says he can prove to Henry Frankenstein that his wife is safe in the monster's hands by calling him and her on a electric talking machine.]

Nick: What, does Frankenstein have a cell phone?
Chris: That's what those things are on his neck, mini-cell towers.
Nick: Would you say his coverage is a head above the rest?

RDHP Plays Matchmaker:
Perfect Mates for Frankenstein
We've heard of mail order wives, but custom ordered ones! That's what Frank got in this flick, and even she hissed and barked in horror at him. But the RDHP just thinks he hasn't met the right partner yet. Channeling, the RDHP presents our suggestions for Frankenstein monster mates. But remember Frank, don't give it up on the first date!

The mistress of the dark wouldn't turn down such a haunting fellow. And after a career full of watching unsightly movies, we're sure Elvira could stand looking at Frank's ugly mug.

Rose McGowan
Let's put it this way... she once dated Marilyn Manson. So, yeah, her standards in a mate are at just about Frank's level.

Glenn Beck
Oh, please, don't pretend you didn't know this nut job loves him some green, dead man-flesh. "The ball is in your court Frank," sexted Beck to Frank's neck cell tower.

Nadya "Octomom" Suleman
At this point, Suleman doesn't care who becomes the father of her 1 million utter-suckers, as long as he doesn't wear Ed Hardy and can handle a woman whose uterus doubles as the Lincoln Tunnel.
All that plastic surgery gives her more stitches than Frank - in fact, that could be a conversation ice breaker on the first date!

Condoleezza Rice
First of all, she kind of looks like Frankenstein. Add in that she is used to being in close proximity to mentally retarded and inherently evil men, and she's the perfect catch!

This Woman
We're not sure if she is human, but the same can be said about Frankenstein! I hear wedding bells already.

RDHP Presents:
It's Not Easy Being Green
Frankenstein's Monster very wrote the book on how tough life is for those of the emerald shade. Here are some other famous greenies.

You knew he was going to be first on our list, but to not be predictable we put him first on our list (cause you were expecting it!)!

The Hulk
We here at the RDHP think the Monster should have forgotten about the bride and looked for Lou Feriggno instead - they are a match made in heaven!

Kermit The Frog
While the Monster embodied this saying this enterprising amphibian coined it. Also, they both can wear a blazer like nobody's business!

The Green Lantern
He may not actually be green, but he certainly digs the color. Also, he has it rough like the Monster - I mean, who would want a ring of ultimate power that can create anything the wearer can imagine? Talk about tough life!

Star Trek Green Slave Women
Say what you will about the volatile life of Frankenstein's Monster, at least he never had to shake his money maker to subsist... or kiss Kirk.

A cuddly version of Freddy Kreuger... wait is it 2042 already?!?

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