Hello Geeks and Ghouls, Famous Monster here. Well, it’s finally October and you know what that means? Breast Cancer Awareness 5Ks? Good guess. Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Delicious, but no. Halloween? YES. Horror movies? DOUBLE YES!
Welcome to 31 Days of Horror, where I’ll cover two noteworthy horror films a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 62 Films perfect for watching on a cold, dark October night. Be sure to visit Geeks of Doom every day this month for a double-shot of chills and thrills!
Today’s double-shot includes the Universal Horror classics, James Whale‘s 1935 Bride of Frankenstein and Karl Freund‘s 1932 film, The Mummy.
Synopsis: Inside their palatial villa, Lord Byron (Gavin Gordon), Percy Shelley (Douglas Walton), and Shelley’s wife Mary (Elsa Lanchester) engage in morbid, yet stimulating, conversation.
The charismatic Byron mockingly chastises Mary for frightening the entire literary world with her recent novel Frankenstein, but Mary insists that her horror tale preached a valuable moral, that man was not meant to dabble in the works of God. The author goes on to tell her companions that the story did not end with the death of Frankenstein’s monster.
Not only has Frankenstein’s Monster (Boris Karloff) survived, but Doctor Frankenstein (Colin Clive) and his former mentor, Doctor Praetorius (Ernst Thesiger), have intentions of creating another monster — this time a woman!
That Creepy Scene:
OK, so this isn’t creepy as much as bewildering and endearing but the sequence in the blind hermit’s shack where he befriends The Monster and teaches it the finer things in life (like wine and good smoke) is by far one of my favorites. The Hermit (O. P. Heggie) teaches Karloff’s Monster basic words and ideas like “friend” and “good” and shares a meal with him.
In many ways, Bride of Frankenstein is as satirical as it is macabre – the film delights in parodying previous Universal Horror films and would serve as a precursor for other send-ups and spoofs like Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, showing Karloff’s stitched-up monstrosity smoking cigars and getting tipsy on old hermit wine.
After showing the misunderstood soul compassion, the hermit is visited by two lost hunters who recognize The Monster. Frankenstein attacks them and accidentally burns down his friend’s cottage as the hunters carry the hermit away. Again, Frankenstein’s Monster is alone, remorseful, and angry at his own inability to understand the world through an undead lens.
Both Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein were produced by the legendary Carl Laemmle Jr. and directed by James Whale, with cinematographer John Mescall replacing Arthur Edeson on 1935′s Bride of Frankenstein. Mescall and Whale expertly crafted a haunting mood, bringing the influence of German Expression into the sets and the performance of Elsa Lanchester‘s Monster’s Bride. Her jerky, robotic movements are reminiscent of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Robert Wiene’s 1898 film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
While Karloff and Lanchester deliver fantastic performances, the most noteworthy might be that of Ernest Thesiger, who plays necromancer and all-around crazy person Dr. Praetorius – a character who’s look and quiet insanity would come to define the ‘mad scientist’ and inform the career of Peter Cushing – or maybe I’m the only person who sees a little Praetorius in Grand Moff Tarkin.
While Jack Arnold’s 1954 classic, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, will always be my favorite of the Universal Horror films, Bride of Frankenstein is certainly the best – a 77-year-old film that feels more irreverent and entertaining today than the majority of horror films studios churn out.
Just in time for Halloween, NCM Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies, and Universal will present a Halloween Double Feature in movie theaters nationwide on Wednesday, October 24th in celebration of Universal’s 100th Anniversary. Don’t miss seeing Boris Karloff on the big screen as the original Frankenstein (1931) followed by Karloff and Elsa Lanchester in Bride of Frankenstein (1935).
Turner Classic Movies Event Series:
Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein
In Select Movie Theaters Nationwide
Wednesday, October 24 at 7:00 PM
Boris Karloff stars in the original 1932 version of The Mummy in which a team of British archaeologists accidentally revives the mummified high priest Imhotep after 3,700 years. Alive again, Imhotep (Karloff) sets out on an obsessive quest to find his lost love, Princess Ankh-es-en-amon.
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