I spent a delightful day yesterday recording a new audio drama up at Moat Studios in that London, in company of some wonderful people including my friend, colleague and fellow Dean Martin enthusiast David Benson.
After the recording we withdrew to the pub and the conversation soon turned to film and, as I were there, Universal Horror. Before long, David and I were positively gushing about what is simply the greatest horror film ever made, The Bride of Frankenstein. James Whale’s masterpiece is truly sublime and for that reason must feature as the first of a regular series for this blog, Magical Movie Monster Moments.
Baron Henry Frankenstein, played by the equally tragic Colin Clive, has been goaded by the evil Dr. Pretorius (the delectably camp Ernest Thesiger) to create a mate for his monster (Karloff of course) As thunder rolls across the sky, new life slams into the cobbled-together, but strangely elegant, body of the Bride who awakes to a peal of bells.
We’ve awaited the whole movie for the titular anti-heroine’s arrival and when her bandages are removed all hell break loose. The monster stumbles forward, longing for acceptance from the only other being on earth like him but, hissing in disgust. she spurns Frankenstein’s first born. Scorned, he literally brings the house down around the ears of Pretorius and his intended.
Has so much impact even been made by such a fleeting appearance on screen? Elsa Lanchester’s wide-eyed performance is mesmerising from the peculiar way her head cocks like a startled sparrow with every new experience to her inhuman hiss (inspired, she claimed, by angry swans in Regent’s Park).
Of course, the Bride – unlike Universal’s Monster himself – never made a return appearance, a fact that means that, thankfully, we were spared the sight of her descending into a parody of herself in later movies. If only the Monster himself could have been spared that fate.
In these brief, legendary reels of film a movie icon was born.