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The Bride
(1985)



Creating monsters instead of messages in bottles:
Sting, former singer of The Police, as Charles Frankenstein
Often cited as a remake of Bride of Frankenstein, The Bride is more of a sequel to James Whale's 1935 classic. It sets out with Frankenstein and several assistants creating a female for the Monster, who is eagerly awaiting his new companion. Just as in Whale's film, the newly born female creature rejects the male creature, who becomes so enraged that he destroys the lab. Frankenstein and the Bride survive the explosion, and the Monster, supposedly killed in the fire, escapes to the woods. From here the film follows two parallel narratives. 

The Monster befriends a circus dwarf, Rinaldo, who teaches him compassion and gives him the name Viktor. They set out for Budapest, where they join a circus. Viktor becomes a stage hand and Rinaldo performs a trapeze act involving a safety line. Meanwhile Frankenstein educates the Bride Eva to be equal to him in both independence and intellect. In the meantime, Rinaldo and Viktor run into an argument with the exploitative circus owner, who refuses to treat and pay them accordingly. Eventually, the circus owners' assistant Bela cuts Rinaldo's safety line before his performance and the dwarf plunges to his death. When Viktor overhears a conversation between the circus owner and Bela he takes revenge for Renaldo and kills his murderer. Sensing a psychic link to Eva, Viktor sets off for home to find her. 


Probably Frankenstein's most beautiful creation:
Jennifer Beals as Eva

Beast and beauty, finally re-united:
Clancy Brown and Jennifer Beals
While Eva slowly begins to question her origin, she is courted by a soldier, which incurs the displeasure of Charles Frankenstein. Increasingly jealous, he confronts the couple and eventually reveals to Eva that he actually created her from dead body parts. When he tries to rape her, Viktor suddenly bursts into the castle and throws Frankenstein from the tower of the castle.



Despite the poor reception by critics at its release, The Bride is one of the most interesting variations of the Frankenstein story. Although far removed from Mary Shelley's novel, it manages to maintain the spirit of the novel in several areas.


Brains and brawns: 
Rinaldo the Dwarf (David Rappaport) 
and Viktor (Clancy Brown)
The depiction of the Monster sets The Bride apart from most other Frankenstein films. Here the Monster is not only portrayed as a compassionate being, but actually made the hero of the film. Although endowed with a simple child-like mind and barely able to produce proper speech, the Monster is clearly the center of the narrative. This is one of the rare cases where sympathy for the Monster is created. Especially the scenes with the dwarf Renaldo show the Monster as a being capable of emotions such as love and compassion. Forgotten are the exploitative escapades of the Hammer movies, where the Monster was reduced to a mere killing machine. In fact, this time the Monster kills only twice - one time as revenge, when his best friend is taken from him, and the other time in self-defense, when his love Eva is threatened.  

Clancy Brown's performance is often reminiscent of Boris Karloff's performance in Bride of Frankenstein, and even manages to be on par with his immortal performance. The viewer can actually identify with the Monster, who for the first time is given a name - ironically that of its creator from the novel. The Monster's name Viktor, meaning "He will win", sets the path for the narrative and finally establishes the movie's unlikely hero - a love-sick, lonely, but good-spirited creature with the mind of a child and the facial features of a Monster.

The second narrative, the relationship between Charles Frankenstein and Eva, is often reminiscent of Pygmalion. Frankenstein did not only create Eva physically in his laboratory, but he is also the creator of her mind when he educates her and introduces her to the secrets of life. In a conversation with his friend Clerval he openly voices his intentions, "I might make the new woman. Independent, free, as bold and as proud as a man. A woman equal to ourselves." And indeed, Eva matures into a self-confident woman who is any match for Frankenstein both in her free-thinking and intellectually. Frankenstein has achieved to make her "his equal in thought an reasoning".
Frankenstein wants to take back what he has created

Unfortunately, he also wants to keep her for himself, and completely loses control when Eva falls for another man. Portrayed by rock singer Sting as an arrogant, cold aristocrat, Frankenstein sees Eva as his toy and property. In the end he shows his truly evil side when he attempts to rape her after he has made it clear to her, that he created her and could as easily destroy her again: "I created your body just as I created your mind. And I can uncreate it too."
Eva's independence and strength has tempted several critics to call The Bride a feminist reworking of Whale's Bride of Frankenstein. And indeed, Eva, played by Jennifer Beals, would never bow to Frankenstein; she would rather die than let him have her body.



With The Bride director Franc Roddam has created a technical masterpiece. Unlike other films from the 1980s, The Bride has stood the sands of time and still looks as beautiful as in 1985, thanks to the excellent cinematography, lavish period costumes and sets, especially the laboratory with its gigantic machinery, lightning and special effects. The acting is also fine, in particular Clancy Brown as the Monster and David Rappaport as the dwarf. Both rock singer Sting and Jennifer Beals of Flashdance fame show surprisingly solid performances.
Despite the strong casting and excellent production values The Bride was a box office failure, most probably because it disappointed the horror fans, who awaited a gory splatter fest, but ended up with having to endure a 120 minute long gothic romance, that dealt more with human emotions and feelings than with horror.

 

Cast & Crew:  
   
Dr. Charles Frankenstein Sting
Eva, the Bride Jennifer Beals
Viktor, the Monster Clancy Brown
Renaldo, the dwarf David Rappaport
   
   
Screenplay Lloyd Vonvielle
Music Maurice Jarre
Cinematography Stephen H. Burum
Producers Keith Addis
Chris Kenny
Lloyd Vonvielle
Director Franc Roddam



Rocky Horror Picture Show Roger Corman


© 2003 Andreas Rohrmoser