The Bride (1985)
I'm not convinced that The Bride -a film that must have been pitched to the investors as "Frankenstein meets Pygmalion meets Little And Large, with Sting in it" - would get made in this day and age. It's one of those films (like Company Of Wolves) that has "sell by date: December 31, 1989" stamped across it in broad letters. Considering it's supposed to be set in ye olden days, the thing positively screams 80s rock video, and would do even if it didn't have Gordon "I can play the cello and I used to be a teacher" Sumner under-performing throughout it.
The thing is also so stuffed full of clichés - beginning as it does with a big castle, a storm and a laboratory copied faithfully from Hammer's blueprints nearly 30 years before - that its claim to be a "variation" on the Frankenstein theme is frankly laughable.
Of course it's not long before Spall's doltery leads to disaster, and he and poor old Crisp get quite literally burned to one. Sting and his new creation (yes, it's Jennifer Beals from Flashdance, folks) escape, whilst his old creation buggers off and meets a dwarf called Ronaldo (David "Time Bandits and those old Tizer ads" Rappaport).
Frankensting is determined to create a bra-burning Germaine Greer type out of his arc welding disco dancer (oh, watch Flashdance if you don't get that one), whilst his mate Clavell reckons he'd be better creating a "pliant mistress". There's a great scene where Beals wanders naked downstairs, a shaft of light illuminating her "woman's area" (what this is supposed to mean I have absolutely no idea - see Link for more mid 80s random nakedness by American film stars), and at this point he decides to call her Eva.
The plot, split as it is into two tales of woe, now comes together almost cleverly. Both of Frankensting's creations are being taught manners - Beals by Sting (don't hold out much hope there, then) and the monster by Rappaport (even less chance). There's a great Hammeresque pub scene were the vertically challenged Rappaport wanders in, only to be told by the Michael Ripper-alike landlord: "Clear out, you little pygmy - we don't want your sort here!" (enter monster, landlord hardly pauses) "Ah so, you'll be wanting a beer, then?"
The pair of them get hammered (unintentional joke) in the pub and end up being run out of town. "There's a lesson to be learned here," says the by-now-annoying Rappaport, "and I hope to God I never learn it "
The pair of them join the circus (what else?) where they fit in very neatly beside Alexei Sale, Phil Daniels and his performing wig, and what looks like glamour model Jordan, but with bigger tits. Of course, it's not long before Rappaport has annoyed everyone enough to sign his own death warrant, and the berk even manages to ruin his own death scene.
Looking back over this review, I think I've actually succeeded in making The Bride sound more interesting than it actually is. The thing is ridiculously long, and it's all been seen before (as long ago as James Whales' Bride Of Frankenstein, to be exact). It's just one long slog to get to the point where the monster is reunited with his maker and his bird. There's not even a great deal of gore (although Victor's revenge on the circus folk is swift and bloody). Throw in a bit of bizarre 80s half-arsed feminism ("The trouble with free women, Charles, is that they are free to despise us," Clavell notes at one point) and some horrible clichés (torch wielding villagers, anyone?) and you've not got a great film, however you look at it. But on the plus side, it does have one scene of gratuitous nudity and some occasional unintentional comedy.
There are only two moments of near-greatness - one is the reaction of the token "blind man", and the other is the unexpected (and almost touching) little scene between the monster and a travelling salesman. But they really aren't worth wading through 114 minutes of video tape for, unless you laugh at crapness and don't mind annoying dwarfs.
Speaking of video, I'd like to leave the final words to the hilarious gubbins written on the back of the old VHS box: "This variation of the old Frankenstein story stars STING, now showing his mastery of screen acting - and JENNIFER BEALS, the sensational discovery of Flashdance. Fine support from CLANCY BROWN and DAVID RAPPAPORT, the tiny scene-stealer from The Time Bandits, in a touching portrayal of a monster-and-midget friendship to the death".
And you know what? It's still better than that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein farrago.
Last updated: February 17, 2010
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