Recently I had the opportunity of seeing two classic old favorite horror movies, Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein digitally enhanced and re-mastered in the theaters. At the multiplex in Paramus , N.J. there is a theater that is currently showing old movies with introductions by Robert Osborne of TCM and interviews with the stars and people associated with them.
On this night they were showing a double bill of Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein starring Boris Karloff as the monster and Colin Clive as his creator. I remember my parents telling me when I was a little kid how they saw them in the movies and seeing them this way on a big screen and perfect prints must have been how they saw them so it was extra bonding, full circle and special to me.
No matter how many times you’ve seen them on TV, on video tape or now DVD there is nothing like seeing them on a big screen this way. You can pick out so much more detail like the burns on the monsters hands from fire he was exposed to, various stitches and objects in the graveyard and you get an extra eerie feeling from all the darkness and shadows.
Before the movies started there was a short film with Robert Osbourn of TCM’s movie show interviewing Bela Lugosi’s son who looks exactly like him only with white hair and Boris Karloff’s daughter who looks like everyone’s favorite grandma so friendly and perky with a twinkle in her eyes. Also on hand was make-up artist Rick Baker who was highly influenced by these two movies. Barbara Karloff explained that her dad was a perfect gentleman at all times and made dozens of non horror films. She said he always thought that the monster shouldn’t talk, but accepted it in the Bride of Frankenstein and later admitted that it did add to the character.
Bela Lugosi’s son said that his father was originally approached to play the monster, but turned it down and that’s when Karloff stepped in and accepted it. Lugosi did play the hunchbacked dwarf assistant Igor in several of the later Frankenstein films and had his own horror fame as Dracula. Off screen Lugosi and Karloff were good friends.
I was glad to see the audience made up of devoted fans who didn’t yell things out, but did react in appropriate scenes. In Bride of Frankenstein when the monster befriends the blind hermit and the hermit tells him he is his friend and offers him food and shelter and a bed, you see a tear flowing down the monster’s face which everyone applauded approvingly at. Later on when Dr.Praetorius (played to the max by veteran thespian Ernest Theisinger) appears in his wide brim black hat and black caped overcoat in a windy storm sequence at Frankenstein’s castle, the audience immediately cheered and applauded. Dr. Praetorius is of course instrumental in helping and forcing Victor Frankenstein to create the bride against Victor’s will.
There are many memorable and classic lines from these movies. Who can forget, “It’s Alive!!!” when the monster first moves. Two of my favorite lines are when the monster walks into the mausoleum where Dr. Praetorius has just finished unearthing the bones of the soon to be bride and the monster walks in ands says ”I love dead. Hate living.” Dr. Praetorius replies casually , ”Hmm. You’re wise in your generation.” Or who can forget the ending where the monster is about to pull the lever that will blow up the castle saying.”We belong dead” and the doctor replies, “Don’t pull that leeever, you’ll blow us all to atoms.”
Elsa Lancaster is most memorable first in the beginning as author Mary Shelley who originally wrote Frankenstein and at the end as the bride herself.
If this double bill comes to a theater near you I would highly recommend seeing it. It’s well worth it . It was for one night and an afternoon only.