Bride of Frankenstein and the She’s Alive Moment
The One-Line Summary: The first sequel to Frankenstein (1931), The Bride of Frankenstein picks up where the previous left off, with Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive), thought dead but recovered, renounces his creation before believing he has found the key to immortality and sets about with his former mentor, Doctor Septimus Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) to bring to life a mate for the Monster (Boris Karloff), who continues to find accidental trouble no matter where he goes, even when learning compassion and friendship from a blind hermit (O.P. Heggie) who offers him a bit of human warmth.
The Two-Line Blurb: Directed by James Whale, who helmed the first, this sequel is often considered the greatest in the series and one of the best horror films ever made, with Boris Karloff, as the monster, and Elsa Lanchester as both Mary Shelley (in the opening moments) and the Bride delivering performances that have come to define the genre and become iconic for how the monster and his mate should appear. While themes and depictions within the film met with a backlash of controversy due to a number of issues, such as blasphemy and necrophilia, the movie was a huge success both at the box office and with critics who praised the cast, sets, music and story.
The Three-Line Set-up: This moment is about confirmation and the discovery that whatever occurred with the original monster can be replicated, steering Henry’s dream closer to reality, no matter how twisted it might be. Meanwhile, The Monster has been on a rampage of sorts, defending itself but committing brutal deaths that continually turn the townspeople against him. He is slowly learning that he is not like others and no matter his efforts and the hopeless misunderstandings that burden his path, he will never be accepted.
The Four-Line Moment: In the castle, Henry and Pretorius have assembled the parts of a woman together and swaddled her in stitches and bandages, mounted her on the pivoting operating table and hooked her up to the electoral equipment where the raging storm outside has filled her body with a powerful current. They lower her back to the laboratory and she stirs, moans and wriggles a bit, inciting a reworking of the classic line Henry exclaimed in the previous film, “She’s alive. Alive!” And while the filmmakers couldn’t resist adding sensual music rather than the now familiar horror organ strands we’ve come to expect as she stands upright in her body-clinging bandages, her reveal is great fun, punctuated by the now iconic frizzed-up, white lightning streaked hair. Lanchester is beguiling and her bird-like twitching gives the character a delicate, vulnerable feel unlike her hulking male counterpart, to which she, no matter the sudden fate she faces soon after, will always be remembered and beloved.
The Five-Word Review: Must see classic monster movie.