‘Bride of Frankenstein’: A Sequel That Squeals


The Eddie Murphy-Martin Lawrence buddy comedy “Life” may be Universal’s high-profile DVD release this week, but the studio’s collector’s edition of the 1935 horror classic “The Bride of Frankenstein” is far more entertaining.

“Bride of Frankenstein” ($30) is director James Whale’s sequel to his 1931 gem, “Frankenstein.” As wonderful as the original was, this is one of the few times in cinema history when the sequel is even better.

The delectable disc features the informative documentary “She’s Alive! Creating the Bride of Frankenstein,” produced by David J. Skal and narrated by director Joe Dante. It offers interesting tidbits, such as the fact that Whale didn’t want to make the sequel but decided it could be a “hoot” and created wonderfully amusing secondary characters such as Una O’Connor’s hysterical maid, Minnie, and the evil Dr. Pretorius, played by the eccentric Ernest Thesiger, who was actually Whale’s mentor.


Originally, Claude Rains was to play that part, but nothing has been found to suggest why he didn’t.

Whale also insisted that Elsa Lanchester play Mary Shelley in the prologue, as well as the title character. The memorable hiss that Lanchester makes as the bride is actually based on her memories of the noise the swans made in St. Regent’s Park in London.

Jack Pierce also returned to do Boris Karloff’s elaborate makeup as the Monster. Between the two movies, though, Karloff had gained weight, so the monster doesn’t have the sunken look he sported in “Frankenstein.”

Special praise is given to Franz Waxman’s remarkable score. Each character, in fact, has his or her own theme, with the Monster’s very reminiscent of his growling.

The documentary also reveals that Karloff didn’t want the Monster to speak, but he lost the argument with Whale. As his daughter, Sarah Karloff, says in an interview, it was one of the few times her father made a miscalculation.

Also included on the DVD are production notes, concise talent bios, photo archives and an above-average audio commentary from film historian and archivist Scott MacQueen. He discusses the various scenarios that were bandied around for the sequel. One found Dr. Frankenstein and his wife working for a traveling marionette theater and re-creating the birth of the Monster with the puppets.



“Life” ($30) is a serviceable DVD. The wide-screen presentation includes a standard, rather staid behind-the-scenes documentary, production notes, trailer, talent bios, deleted scenes (complete with commentary from director Ted Demme), five minutes of very funny outtakes with Murphy and Lawrence, and a soundtrack presentation highlighting the music from the film.

Demme provides the audio commentary, and he’s quite a funny, enthusiastic guy. He discusses what it was like working with his two stars and how hard it was to do certain scenes because they kept cracking up.


Universal also has released a collector’s edition of its 1997 Jim Carrey hit “Liar Liar” ($35). Presented in the wide-screen format, the disc includes the trailer, talent bios, photo archives, a better-than-average documentary that features great bits of Carrey mugging, and a lengthy deleted scene that was cut from the beginning of the movie, illustrating just how much of a liar Carrey’s attorney character is.

The scene, in which he gets a thief off for mugging an old man, is quite funny but, according to director Tom Shadyac, it held up the flow of the film.

Though Shadyac is rather low-key, he offers insight into what it is like working with someone so spontaneous as Carrey. Shadyac explains that “Liar Liar” was a far different film for them both because it was more grounded in reality. And as Carrey points out in the documentary, “Liar Liar” marks the first time he got to wear his own hair on screen.