When I was still in college I watched Frankenstein for the first time. I had read the book while I was in high school and had seen later versions of Frankenstein before (why would an english teacher submit our precious teenage minds to Robert de Niro as the Monster? I am scarred for life by that shitty adaptation) but I had never seen the original. I was blown away at how visceral and immediate the original film was. When I was watching the film, I felt my heart beat faster as Dr. Frankenstein brings to life his creature. The immortal lines “It’s Alive! It’s Alive” was so beautifully uttered by such an insane man. I can’t believe it took me this long to watch the sequel.
The sequel takes off right where the previous movie stops. The monster is loose along the country side. He wonders around trying to find something meaningful to him. But all he finds is death, fire, and fear. That is until he hears a blind man play the violin (which I believe is in the book). The blind man has no idea what the creature looks like so he invites him in to share his company. He teaches the creature how to love fire, how to smoke, how to talk and how to appreciate beautiful things like music. This is of course spoiled by the presence of people who can actually see who the creature is. Through dramatic circumstances he is again out on the prowl looking for companionship. This juxtaposed by a mad scientist coming to see the sick Dr. Frankenstein. He shows the doctor the little creatures that he has made through similar techniques. And proposes an idea to make a companion to the creature. This coincides with Dr. Frankenstein’s lover being killed. He wants nothing more than for her to be alive again, so he agrees. Thus the woman version of the monster comes into existence.
The black and white artistry of this film is fascinating. The director treats each scene as dramatically as possible. I loved the deep shadows on the mad scientist who makes small people. He was just as scary as the monster in his lust for scientific quests. I also loved the laboratory. All of the scientific equipment lighting up and charging with such bright light while the bride comes to life just makes the scene so much more enjoyable. But the crowning achievement of the film is when the bride finally comes to life. Her beautiful swaths of white clothing, her electrified hair with streaks of white in them, her menacing face that hisses at any touch is all just right on point. I like many other people have grown up seeing images of this bride. To finally see it in context of the movie was amazing. I immediately wanted to watch the film again. But unfortunately it was on TCM so I can’t… sad face.