Combustible Celluloid
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With: Bela Lugosi, Tor Johnson, Tony McCoy, Loretta King, Harvey B. Dunn, George Becwar, Paul Marco, Don Nagel, Bud Osborne, John Warren, Ann Wilner, Dolores Fuller, William 'Billy' Benedict, Ben Frommer
Written by: Edward D. Wood Jr., Alex Gordon
Directed by: Edward D. Wood Jr.
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 68
Date: 05/11/1955

Bride of the Monster (1955)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Written and directed by the unflappable Edward D. Wood Jr., Bride of the Monster includes many historical benchmarks. It was Bela Lugosi's last speaking role, and Wood's biggest budget. Lugosi stars as mad scientist Dr. Eric Vornoff, who has been working on a "race of supermen" created via atomic energy. Unfortunately, his experiments usually kill his test subjects. He has a hulking, mindless brute, Lobo (Tor Johnson), who helps and keeps away intruders. He also has a "giant" octopus -- made out of rubber and totally immobile -- that helps dispose of unwanted victims. (We see the octopus "moving" in unrelated stock footage.) Lt. Dick Craig (Tony McCoy) and his reporter girlfriend Janet Lawton (Loretta King, who reportedly partly financed the film!) try to figure out what's going on. Bride of the Monster isn't as personal as Glen or Glenda, nor is it as astonishingly surreal as Plan 9 from Outer Space, but it looks terrific with its spooky black-and-white photography and its neat haunted house set, and it's fun. Of Wood's films, it most closely resembles a "normal" monster movie of the period, though it quickly descends into his signature style: few -- if any -- of the shots match, the acting is atrocious and the dialogue sings with its own unique rhythms of awfulness. Lobo becomes agitated after feeling an angora sweater, Lugosi gets a big, passionate monologue, etc. (It helps if you're a fan of Wood's and have seen Tim Burton's great 1994 "biopic" Ed Wood.)

DVD Details: For years, Bride of the Monster has been available in the public domain, but in 2008 Legend Films released a new, definitive edition. (They also released the terrific Plan 9 from Outer Space disc in 2006.) The black-and-white transfer looks better than ever, but the disc also includes a pretty good-looking colorized version (though I think the black-and-white better matches the mood of the film). The film is even close-captioned! The disc also includes a four-minute on-camera interview with Lugosi, a comedy sketch with Tor Johnson playing a circus strongman, and trailers for other Legend releases. Don't miss it!

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