Has anyone seen a crazy-ass Frankenstein flick called “The Bride”? Cameron and I watched it last night, and its pretty wacky, but interesting. This movie, I shit you not, stars Sting as doctor Frankenstein, Clancy Brown as the monster, and Jennifer Beals as “Eva” the bride to be of the monster. Throw in a wise midget with an accent, and you’ve got one heady brew.
Basically, Dr. Frankenstein attempts, per the request of his original monster, to create a bride for him out of reanimated girl-parts. He doesn’t count on the fact that #1-The Bride will have a instantaneous fear reaction to the uncouth firstborn, causing a major ruckus which leaves his workshop in ashes, his monster hightailing it to Budapest with the afore mentioned little person, and the Bride alone with him in his castle. #2-his second creation will be a vast improvement on his first, and that he will develop a full 19th century hard-on for it.
Faced with this predicament, Dr. Frankenstein decides to mold his lovely homunculus into the “perfect woman”; beautiful, intelligent, athletic, spirited, cultured, well mannered, articulate, not to mention independent and a free thinker. Not much to live up to eh? So, when Dr. F is eventually revealed for the maniacal control-freak/rapist that he really is, and the MONSTER turns out to have heart of gold, you can pretty much guess which one Eva is going to punt off into the Venetian sunset with. At first, I wrote this movie off as a quirky “Bride of Frankenstein” remake with a few boobs and circus freaks, (along with a dash of pseudo-feminism), stirred in for good measure. Then, in one pivotal scene, Doctor Frankenstein (here called “Charles”…Victor is the monster’s name. Must’ve been a copyright thing,) misquotes from Shelly’s “Prometheus Unbound”, attributing it to Keats. Eva, his protégé, corrects him proving once and for all that she has surpassed her creator/mentor in intellect. For any viewer who has had a survey course in the Romantics (thanks again Prof. Skarda!) this is a pretty “meta” moment.
It got me thinking. If the makers of this film had more than a passing interest in telling the story of Romantic literature itself, then perhaps this film could be read as a veiled retelling of Mary Shelley’s early life.
Like Eva, Mary Godwin (later Shelley) was motherless almost from birth. She was raised in a tyrannical household with a repressive stepmother and a father that she adored with a devotion that bordered on both the fanatical and the sexual. When young Mary’s secret liaisons with Percy Shelly became know to her father, he had a complete meltdown. Apparently Godwin expected his daughter to be both a forward thinking feminist genius (like her mother) and Daddy’s Little Princess. A bit hypocritical for a committed anarchist if you ask me, but there you have it. Mary finally eloped with Percy to warmer climes...and uh, their marriage was annulled a of couple times, but that’s another story…
Speaking of which, the next Shelly themed film of the 80’s that I’d like to see is “Gothic”, about time that the Shelleys, Byron, and their doctor spent at that Swiss villa. Netflix doesn’t have it though…thoughts?