Friday, October 30, 2009

The Return Of 31 Days Of Horror: #31 The Bride Of Frankenstein

The Bride Of Frankenstein is the first film that I can remember seeing. True I have a jumbled infants memory of the forest fire from Bambi on the big screen. But that's just a flash. My memory of watching Bride is so much more real and complete. I couldn't have been more then three or four, and for some damn reason I'd gotten a hold of the film from the public library (same one with The Wolfman). I popped it in, and made it all of about two minutes before I literally ran sceaming from the room, ran down the hall to my bedroom and hid under my bed.

It was the hand that did it. For those unfamiliar with the movie, the film opens with the villagers standing around the burnt windmill that serves as the location for the first films climax. There's alot of exposition being thrown around, but it all basically amounts to the monster's dead and they're glad of it. The teeming villagers head back to the burg for a pint, leaving only the grieving father of the girl murderered in the first film behind. He's not happy with the outcome, a burned building isn't enough. Until he sees the fucking things smoldering corpse he won't be happy.

He ends up falling through the wood into the cave below the windmill and as he splashes helplessly in the water, a hand comes out from behind a blind wall. A decayed, stitched up dead thing, dragging behind it Boris Karloff lumbering body and lifeless eyes.

At which point I promptly lost my four year old shit.

It's probably just as well, I most likely wouldn't have known what to make of Bride. By far the most sophisticated of Universal pictures. While the others Universal films work by jumping feet first into the myth pool, Bride is an incredibly knowing film. What my four year old self would make of it's camp, religious satire, and gay subtext I know not. Probably not very much.

But I sure appriciate it now. The Bride Of Frankenstein is simply put one of my favorite films. A grand tragedy with a wicked sense of humor. A film that hurts, Karloff's doomed monster, and his dead unrequetted queen, the fey Dr. Pretorious, James Whale's moody style. So many things to recommend it.

But really what it comes down to the hand. The one that sent me screaming from the room. Seeing it now still makes me shudder in some primal place that I like to pretend I don't have. It made me an instant horror junkie of course, but in alot of ways I learned on that day, not just what I want from Horror movies, but from movies. I got an object lesson that Film is the most visceral of the arts. The ability it has to brand itself the brain with nothing more then a plaster wall and a slightly made up hand. I like cinema that scars.

And while it took ten years and another horror sequel (Evil Dead II) for me to realize that I wanted Film to become my profession and life. I like to think that my fate was set, as surely as Karloff's poor monster's was from the moment I laid my eyes on it.

Thanks for following me through these 31 Days. For those of you who've come to me through one of the horror blogothons I hope you stick around. Even though the site isn't strictly horror only don't worry, it comes up quite alot in the "off season".

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