A message to Hollywood: If you revisit ‘The Bride,’ think sequel, not remake

Posted 8/12/17

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Since last week’s reflections on that old 1935 horror classic, “The Bride of Frankenstein,” a reader who keeps up with such things has told me Hollywood is planning a …

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A message to Hollywood: If you revisit ‘The Bride,’ think sequel, not remake

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Since last week’s reflections on that old 1935 horror classic, “The Bride of Frankenstein,” a reader who keeps up with such things has told me Hollywood is planning a remake.

Short on detail but long on delight, she encouraged me to check it out.

So I did.

If the U.S. website of “Variety” is to be believed, Universal Studios has called dibs on the project. The new film’s release is set for Feb. 14, 2019. It will be the second in Universal’s “Dark Universe” series that is reprising a number of fright flicks from the past, among them “The Invisible Man,” “Van Helsing” and “Creature From the Black Lagoon.”

As a loyal fan of the cinema whose adventures date back to childhood thanks to those vintage Saturday matinees of the ’60s in tiny Mississippi towns like Booneville and Ripley — “King Kong vs Godzilla” and “Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster” come to mind — I have always boasted an eye for quality entertainment ... er, well, sort of.

OK, OK ... it’s a fuzzy eye.

But not long ago, Turner Movie Classics aired “The Bride of Frankenstein,” a 75-minute, black-and-white film that I had not seen since boyhood. Turns out, viewing it 50 years later as a grey-haired adult came as a treat ... not from the scare factor, but from my compassion for The Bride.

Frankly, I thought she got a raw deal. So I wrote about her in last Sunday’s edition. Whether I was attracted to the actress who played the role — Elsa Lanchester — or whether I simply felt pity for her character, I cannot say. But I think it was the latter.

As mentioned in last Sunday’s column, The Bride deserved a chance at life. In a movie whose title glamorized her as the star, she appeared with about 10 minutes left ... but only to become the collateral damage of a madman’s misguided delusion. She, along with The Monster and creepy Dr. Septimus Pretorius, died when the underspoken, flat-headed giant pulled a mysterious lever, igniting a powerful explosion that toppled the castle.

Pretorius deserved his punishment, maybe two or three times over ... The Monster, not so much. But The Bride? Her death was just wrong.

That’s why, if I had any say in the production, the 2019 remake of “The Bride of Frankenstein” would not be a remake at all. It would be a sequel, one in which The Bride would get a second chance.

And, to celebrate its Valentine’s Day premiere, I would tack a second theme to the title — “The Bride of Frankenstein: A Love Story.”

Here’s how it would go.

As the movie opens, we see the smoldering remains of the collapsed castle, formerly the home of Dr. Henry and Elizabeth Frankenstein who were allowed by The Monster to flee the coming carnage, right before he flipped the lever.

Henry and Elizabeth escape, and are never seen again. All others are presumed dead.

As the intolerant village people circle the mountain of crushed stone searching for proof of the kill with torches in hand, they cheer that peace has been restored to their land and they jeer at the Frankenstein name.

Hours later, after all within the angry mob have seemingly returned to their homes, a trembling hand emerges from the rubble. Injured but alive, The Bride crawls from her makeshift tomb. Her head twitching from right to left, and back again, she is frightened.

And she is alone.

Unable to speak, and barely to walk, she tastes the copper of her own blood as it courses down a bruised cheek, her skin pale and her white, floor-length gown torn and dirtied from the fateful collapse that only she had survived.

Without direction, she stumbles into the wooded dark ... oblivious to the distant eyes of a lingering enemy who makes haste to his village to proclaim that evil still lurks among the ruins.

As she wanders the dense forest — cold by night and hungry by day — her unsteady feet trip among the vines. She staggers to her feet, only to fall again, still a stranger to the human step. The Bride cringes at the sounds of the night, unable to wish away the thirst in her throat and the pang in her belly. Each is a feel so very foreign ... because she had no teacher, she knew no mentor.

All she can feel is pain. All she can see is dark ... the silhouette of midnight, the gloom of isolation, the absence of hope.

For two days and two nights she roams helplessly through the haunting forest, her hunger growing, her parched lips begging for drink. Yet, she does not understand water. None had taught its purpose. Nor does she know food, nor rest or comfort.

On the second night, as she cowers at the base of a dying oak, her head jerks to the left, her eyes focus, her ears perk to a growing clamor from behind.

Calling upon a childlike instinct, she pulls herself to her feet using the tree as her brace. And she runs.

“There she is ... the monster!” a voice cries out from the blackness.

The howl of excited dogs, the bounce of hand-held flames, the approach of footsteps and human voices, all shouting, each urging the other to “... catch her, don’t let her get away!”

She stumbles again, falling to the forest floor, her forehead glancing against the blunt knob of a root, the sharp pain searing its way to her very soul.

And they are upon her.

Fists of fury strike telling blows against her crumpled frame and heavy boots exact cracked ribs while tortuous hands rip her from the ground ... hate winning the night and plans for death by fire taking the day.

Then it is heard. A powerful warning pierces the night air, a man’s command from afar, “Get your hands off her!”

He emerges from the moonlit shadows, his own flaming torch in one hand, a shining sword reflecting its light in the other. He prepares to use either, or both.

Bleeding from her wounds and struggling to stand, The Bride rests her frightened eyes upon him ... at last, a friend.

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That’s where I’ll have to end this vision of “The Bride of Frankenstein: A Love Story.” If Hollywood wants to know more — just in case Universal screenwriters are open to a few suggestions — they can call.

Or email.

But for you readers out there, I assure you ... in my version, The Bride gets a second chance, one she so warmly deserves.

And along the way, she finds love.

I don’t yet know the ending. But I do know most everything in the middle.

In this case, “everything” serves as little more than what we know as the fabric of life. And regardless of our difference, we all share in its right.

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(About the writer: Rick Norton is an associate editor at the Cleveland Daily Banner. Email him at rick.norton@clevelandbanner.com.)

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