Frankenstein Fest (13 Days of Halloween)

First up, was Barack Obama. Then, Bride of Frankenstein. I’d forgotten how wooden the preamble is. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron gather on the proverbial dark and stormy night to babble about Mary’s unpublished novel. Mary is certain it’ll be published one day. Lord Byron rapturously summarizes the major beats of the story while the viewer sees a montage of these very same events. They suspiciously resemble the arc of the film, not the novel. Fortunately, it’s over in mercifully short order and Mary begins to tell a new tale, the story of the creation of the Bride of the Monster. Elsa Lanchester, who had a lengthy and varied career (all those Disney movies!), plays both Mary Shelley and the Bride.

Bride of the Frankenstein features the creepy scene where mad Dr. Pretorious shows Dr. Frankenstein his success growing tiny, Barbie-sized people who he keeps in Bell Jars. What makes the scene particularly disturbing is the whimsical music, it underscores the complete of Pretorius and his complete disconnection with that funny little thing called sanity.

It’s a fine film, once you get through that preamble (it’s only a few minutes long, use it to open a bottle of wine), Director James Whale was truly an artist. The fictionalized film about Whale’s death, Gods and Monsters, takes it’s name from a line in Bride of Frankenstein. Boris Karloff is terrific as the Monster. The pop culture image of the Monster is that of a lumbering, emotionless creature. The Monster of the book, and the first two films, is anything but. The scene with the blind man in the cabin, where the Monster cautiously makes his first friend, is quite moving.

Next up, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, which was on at 10 instead of 8 because of the Obama-thon.

I watched Son of Frankenstein and have already posted about it and about the epic decline in quality the franchise suffered after Bride, so I pushed ahead to 1942’s Ghost of Frankenstein. In Son of Frankenstein, the Doctor’s son, Wolf, inherited the castle, the crazy hunchback, Ygor, and, of course, the monster. (Who is now played by Lon Chaney, Jr).

In Ghost, Wolf’s brother, Ludwig, takes up dear old dad’s work after the villagers capture the monster, who it turns out escaped with Ygor at the end of Son. Wackiness ensues. Or maybe that’s the wine talking.

After an intermission to watch Obama on the Daily Show, I planned to move on to House of Dracula, except I realized it hadn’t arrived yet. I also realized that I don’t really care so I skipped on to House of Frankenstein. I should note that House of Dracula marks the debut of Glenn Strange as the Monster. Lon Chaney, jr remains, but now plays Lawrence Talbet/the Wolf Man. John Carradine plays Dracula. Bela is nowhere to be seen. This cast remains the same for House of Frankenstein, and I should mention that Lionel Atwill gamely continues to play the Inspector.

Three Frankensteins were enough for one night. Plus, I was out of wine, so I watched Rachel Maddow and went to bed.

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  • karlmek

    A couple more for your consideration; “Below”,
    a fairly creepy ghost story inside a (largish)
    WW2 fleet sub (“Alien” like in that you can’t
    leave). The other is “28 Weeks Later”; this
    one got a couple of “AAACKs!” out of me and I
    don’t normally do that.