Of gods, monsters and the bride

Did you know that in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus the creature is never named and in fact part of the rejection of its creator VIktor Frnkenstein was to never name it. He called it vile insect, abhorred monster, fiend, wretched devil and monster. mary Shelley when re-telling the story called him Adam. Let us call him Adam, at least in this post. It is said that because of James Whale, who crafted the film adaptation Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein that we in our contemporary time call the monster Frankenstein’s monster or simply Frankenstein.

If one does venture to read the book one will fin a more cerebral Adam of the Modern Prometheus.

There have been many adaptations of Mary Shelley’s novel. For me though my favoreite would be the adaptation of james Whale and rightly so because there are those that consider this as his best films. And the Bride of Frankenstein, at least for me, is the best of those two films.

So Dear friends, you can imagine how thrilled this writer was when they released a VCD version of the bride of Frankenstein here in the Philippines. This was of course some time ago.

And in betwwn thar time and the present, one weekend afternoon when the rain kept pouring my nephew and I sat down to watch the Bride of Frankenstein. His younger brother scuttled away upon seeing Boris Karloff’s monster. My nephew stayed glued to the tv set watching the movie. I would not blame My eyes were also fixed to the tv set.


The movie begins with a conversation between Lord Byron, the Poet Shelley and his wife Mary Shelley, Elsa. Amidst, the thunderstorm besieging the castle Mary Shelley, Elsa Lanchester, is more than willing to continue her tale of Frankenstein and his monster.

After a brief recap of events the tale continues. A reformed Frankenstein, still played by Colin Clive, recovers from the fall from the burning windmill and is set to marry. However, unknown to him the monster, Boris Karloff, has survived and his mentor Dr Pretorius has come to visit him. Pretorius played by Ernest Thesiger has also been conducting experiments and needs Frankenstein to give life to his own creation.

The movie seems to have a more meatier story than the first. It develops the story of the monster his pain and the development of his personality. In fact the monster has several poignant scenes in the movie. This is in term off-set by the scene-stealing and devilish scened of Pretorius. My nephews favourite was the scene where Pretorius showcased his creations. And the introduction of Pretorius’ penultimate creation, the Bride, is a scene beyond words and deserves to be etched into the immortal hall of cinema history. Add to this the garnishing of intelligent dialogue between the characters.

The first dialogue between the Monster and Pretorius -

Dr. Pretorius: Do you know who Henry Frankenstein is, and who you are?
The Monster: Yes, I know. Made me from dead. I love dead… hate living.
Dr. Pretorius: You are wise in your generation. We must have a long talk, and then I have an important call to make.

Several critics have further lauded the film because of its sexual undertones and its dance with taboo topics, like homosexuality. This has been explicity explored in the critically acclaimed movie Gods and Monsters, a movie where Sir Ian McKellan essayed the role of Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein’s director Frank Whale. Maybe it is valid and maybe its not. One thing will not change and that this is a fine movie.


Through the years there have been the Frankenstein abd Adama has inspired several adaptationa and original works.

Kenneth Branagh’s version is a bit more faithful to the book, but for sheer cinamtic pleasure, I guess, nothing beats James Whale’s cinematic opus. Other “Frakenstein” film worth watching include: The Bride with Sting as the good Doctor, Jennifer Beals as the Bride and Clancy Brown as Adam; Frankenstein: The True Story with James Mason deligthfuly playing the heavy – Dcotor Polidori ( Taken from the one of the authors involved in the bet that spawned the Frankenstein novel); and the several others – several from Universal and of course from Hammer Filams and believe it or not a Western/Horror films called jesse james Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, which was double featured with Billy the Kid Meets Dracula.

Of course if you want a laugh there is Mel Brook’s Young Frankenstein with Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, Richard Haydn and Gene Hackman. A spoof of Whale; Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein – where we see Adam singing Putting on the Ritz.

Films spawned by the film and the novel worth watching: Frankenstein Unbound: A Roger Corman film adapted from Biran Aldiss novel of the same title; A Candian Horror Comedy film Blood and Donuts – wait till the end and you will see why it is a Frankenstein spawned film; and Bill Condon’s fil Gods and Monsters, a movie about the last days of James Whale and tackles his Frankenstein films and his homesexuality – it features Ian McKellan, Brendan Fraser, Lynn Redgraves, Lolita Davidovich, and David Dukes.

Still, Whale’s the Bride of Frankenstein seems to be best film creation. Whale may have tweaked with the story a bit, but he did it in such a fine way that it is a movie one should not be ashamed of.It has depth and panache from the scene between Adam and the Blind Fiddler ttalkiing about Friendship and the antics of Dr Praetorius. Several years ago, My nephew and I agree on this and we still enjoying watching it till today.

As the delightfully sinister Dr Pretorius would say as he raised his wine glass to toast, “To a new world of gods and monsters!”

Bride of Frankenstein:
Directed by James Whale. Adapted to the screen by William Hurlbut and John L. Balderston (as John Balderston).Written by Mary Shelley novel Frankenstein
Cast: Boris Karloff as The Monster, Colin Clive as Dr. Henry Frankenstein, Valerie Hobson as Elizabeth Frankenstein, Ernest Thesiger as Dr. Pretorius, Elsa Lanchester as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and ? as The Monster’s Mate.

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