Sony // 1985 // 119 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // September 20th, 2001
Dr. Frankenstein invites you to meet his newest creation.
It seems to me that at one point rock star Sting was on the periphery of becoming a major acting talent. In the early 1980s Sting starred (or had supporting roles) in a batch of films, including David Lynch's Dune, the little seen Brimstone and Treacle, and the Melanie Griffith vehicle Stormy Monday. Also featured in the 1995 film Gentlemen Don't Eat Poets, Sting has basically strayed away from celluloid and back into mainstream music. In 1985, Sting and Flashdance sensation Jennifer Beals starred in the Frankenstein-based gothic romance film The Bride. Directed by Franc Roddam (Quadrophenia) and also starring Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption), Carey Elwes (The Princess Bride, Hot Shots), and David Rappaport (Time Bandits), The Bride makes its "charging" DVD debut care of Columbia Pictures Entertainment.
Based on the book by Mary Shelley and the ideas started in James Whale's Frankenstein films, The Bride follows the adventures of Baron Charles Frankenstein (Sting), his newest living creation Eva (Beals), and her mate-to-be monster Viktor (Brown).
After bringing the recently deceased Eva back to life via the trusty old lightning bolt, Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory is destroyed in a billowing explosion that consumes almost everything in it. Dr. Frankenstein, Eva and some assistants are able to escape, as is the monster (unbeknownst to Dr. Frankenstein, who thinks he died in the fire).
After escaping, Viktor meets up with Rinaldo (Rappaport), a midget with aspirations to get to Budapest (apparently, this is someplace that's known for being a paradise in these times). On the way to Budapest, the two join a circus where Rinaldo and Viktor star in a two-man trapeze act. Gaining self-confidence and some mental skills (this monster is much smarter and prettier than in other film versions), Viktor is happy with his new life until a tragic accident leads him back to castle Frankenstein.
Meanwhile, Dr. Frankenstein is working on Eva's manners and social skills. She starts with the mind of a child, but soon starts growing into a fiercely independent woman. Eva learns how to read, walk, socialize, and even how to sass back to the poor old doctor. Her continuing sexual independence starts to annoy Frankenstein, especially after she gets the hots for a handsome suitor (Elwes).
Can Dr. Frankenstein control all his freakish creations? Or will all of these poor saps meet with disastrous results?
I'm a fan of the classic Frankenstein movies. Everything from the original 1931 film to the so-so Ghost Of Frankenstein was enjoyable, fun, and sometimes expertly creepy. Although The Bride certainly doesn't live up to those movies, it does have some charming qualities of its own. I was hesitant about watching a movie that featured a rock star as its main player. Was I going to have to bear through yet another Strangeland (you know, that cruddy Dee Snider horror flick)? If so, I would have to start drinking kerosene and Drain-o to ease the pain. I am happy to report that The Bride is not half as bad as that tortured mess. It's not half as good as many other movies, but that's to be expected.
Though it was a bit slow, I actually found myself kind of enjoying The Bride. It was sort of like The Remains of the Day and Frankenstein meets Weird Science. Maybe fans of the old Universal horror classics (like me) will be drawn to the familiar story. If The Bride does nothing else, is succeeds in capturing the essence of an old-fashioned horror movie. Like the original Dracula and Frankenstein movies, The Bride has a lush, darkly romantic feel that will really enthrall some viewers. Others may feel that this movie is relatively sluggish and inconsistent. There are many slow parts, but I think if you stay with the movie, you may be genuinely surprised.
Sting is a much better actor than I anticipated him to be. He has a natural charisma that works well on the camera. The only acting I have ever seen him do was when he appeared on Saturday Night Live, and that was basically either satire or over-the-top characters that were only board comedy. In The Bride, Sting gets the chance to really stretch his dramatic acting chops with a role that seems to really fit his personality -- low key and very sexual. Jennifer Beals is sufficient as Eva (even though she looks stoned throughout most of the movie), but her character lacks any real depth or even consistency. In one scene she is able to recite complicated dialogue, and in the next she has no idea what a basic house cat is. Her growth from newborn creation to full fledged adult is jagged at best -- it's never clear just how far she's come, for she often reverts back to childish ways. Clancy Brown's monster if far more fleshed out than Eva. Brown is a wonderful actor who has to fill some big shoes, and his portrayal of Viktor is both sympathetic and touching. Viktor longs to just be loved and find a place in the world. Unlike Boris Karloff's version of the monster, this one is smarter and much more in tune with his human qualities. His relationship with David Rappaport's Rinaldo is not unlike that of John Steinbeck's Lenny and George characters from "Of Mice and Men." Rinaldo is the brains behind the operation, and Viktor is the brawn. The dichotomy between the two characters made each of their scenes crackle and come to life, more so than the scenes featuring Frankenstein and Eva. Sometimes stale and often times boring, the core of this movie seems to belong to Rappaport and Brown.
Ultimately, The Bride is about feminism and the independence of women, both in their sexual awakening and in their lifestyles. At first, Eva is just like a child, willing to do anything to please Frankenstein. Soon it becomes clear to her that she has needs and desires that can't be filled at home. Only one thing can satisfy the urges that swell deep inside her soul...Mr. Smug himself, Carey Elwes. I can't say that I don't relate. The Bride is the only movie in the history of cinema where a rock star (Sting) is passed over for a B-level Hollywood actor.
Why should I cry for you, indeed.
The Bride is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I was fairly impressed with the way this transfer turned out. The film is 15 years old but looks close to brand spanking new. Colors looked very vibrant and bold with blacks showing only the smallest signs of fading. The grain was kept to a minimum, as was the edge enhancement (showing up in only a few rare instances). Overall Columbia has done a very nice job on this title.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. This track included a very nice mix that might have benefited from a 5.1 remix, but does just fine on its own. Though it doesn't carry the fidelity or range of more spacious tracks, this 2.0 mix is very deep and clear. Dialogue, music, and effects were all mixed evenly without any distortion whatsoever. Though this won't blow away your components, it does the job nicely. Also included are English, Spanish, French, Thai, Chinese, Korean and Portuguese subtitles.
The Bride includes only a handful of extras, though that's not bad considering how small a title this is. To start with there is an audio commentary by director Franc Roddam. Roddam seems to be a bit sentimental on this track, often discussing in high regard the cast and crew that worked on The Bride. He also discusses his emotional relationship with actor David Rappaport (who would commit suicide just five short years later). I found this to be almost a sweet track, filled with interesting anecdotes about the actors and the making of the film. Also included on this disc are some filmographies on Sting and Jennifer Beals, as well as theatrical trailers for The Bride, Bram Stoker's Dracula and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
Like almost any movie from the '80s, there are some of you out there who are big fans of the film, and you'll be glad to know that this is an above average edition of The Bride. I was impressed with the video transfer of the film and the supplements, while small, are a very nice addition to the disc. For the rest of you I can recommend this disc as a rental, and maybe even a purchase if you're a fan of the old time Universal monster movies.
The Bride is free to go and have fun on its DVD Honeymoon. Case dismissed!
Review content copyright © 2001 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 119 Minutes
Release Year: 1985
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Theatrical Trailers
* Audio Commentary by Director Franc Roddam