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The Bride (Blu-ray Review)

Hot off covering the entire Universal Classic Monsters canon, here I am back (Not in that period, mind you) with 1985’s The Bride, covering that some area. But, this time its a tale in appreciation of a character that isn’t utilized as much as you’d think, iconic as she has been for the better part of a century (Cinematically speaking). Who better to give this a shot on Blu-ray than Scream Factory. As they head into Hammer territory next year, here’s to hopefully the door opening on them releasing more classic monster-related fare as they continue to excel with the iconic 1980s and the 1990s horror output. This edition comes with some solid interviews and a commentary which should be pleasing enough. It hits Blu-ray on September 25th.

Film 

After creating Viktor, a reanimated man, Dr. Frankenstein brings the freshly dead Eva back to life as a mate for his monster. Gorgeous Eva rejects the hideously scarred Viktor, who goes on a murderous rampage that blows up the lab. In the chaos, Frankenstein and Eva escape. Assuming Viktor is dead, Frankenstein decides to train his other creation to act like a normal human. Meanwhile, Viktor pairs with dwarf Rinaldo to form a circus act.

The Bride is an intriguing experiment and wonderful direction with which to take the Frankenstein story in a (Then) modern time. In terms of horror, this one falls more under the Gothic romance subdivision of it as opposed to a monster story or a scarefest. There are a few action pieces in it, but this is more or less a relationship genre with the Frankenstein characters and environment first and foremost. Its a more youthful look at the story as well, having the characters at least feel younger than what you would deem them in the classic universal films or even some of the Hammer output.

A lovely cast helps tell this new turn on the Frankenstein lore. Clancy Brown plays the monster and he’s pretty wonderful as you see him as someone not completely there, but also continues to slowly learn and become an improved being by the end of it. Sting as Doctor Frankenstein just sounds awesome enough (Like something out of a stage play) on paper, but he’s able to pull it off in spades. I mean, he’s really good here in a pretty challenging and unflattering role. Jessica Beals as the bride works great too as she also has to slowly come to fruition just like Brown. Also be on the lookout for a suave scene chewing Cary Elwes that shows up.

Beyond the Frankenstein story and the exploration of actually going beyond the Bride story and letting her breathe and become more of a character, this tale couldn’t be more prescient in modern times. On the surface of this all is a portrayal of the dangers of male entitlement. The Sting and Jennifer Beals stuff going on can be tough to watch, but fully educational and completely relevant still to this day. This script is actually pretty smart in their portrayal of her and how she views people as well as Dr. Frankenstein’s obsession and possessiveness.

Unfortunately, this movie is quite a bit long in the tooth. At almost too hours, it does feel like it. The pace is very plodding and many of the dramatic scenes and subplot storylines could have been strung together and tightened up without losing anything while keeping the feeling of the film intact. The acting, sets and content is all good, its just too much over and over again while not making many steps forward. There is also a subplot regarding a deeper connection between the monster and the Bride that doesn’t get explored as much as it should have been. You’ll want more from it, and some of the focus should have been given to it.

The Bride was a fun movie to look back on. One, admittedly, I’d never seen before. The entire cast of this film was fun to see who was who, but they all pretty much nailed their roles. The monster’s portrayal and look were very good here. The opening sequence ropes you right in, exciting you with the familiar scenario and then going beyond it. The movie does move along quite slowly and tedious, but the message and character study all is worth the time and still fits in today’s culture. The Bride is definitely one to take a look back on if you’ve never seen it or haven’t seen it since its release.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: I’m not sure how The Bride was mastered for this Blu-ray, be it just an HD presentation or 2K/4K scan, but it looks terrific. Its a clear and clean image that showcases a lot of lovely detail from the beauty of a nice pattern and elegant threading on a gown to the went, burned, chipped brick on the side of building. Right from the start the image is pretty impressive and holds true evening throughout the film.

Depth:  Dimensional work is very good here, with a nice push back feeling to the backgrounds displaying a nice depth of field. Characters and objects look free and spacious. No real issues with distortions on the cinematic and smooth motions on display.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and a little inky. Some of it is consuming with lost detail, but at other times it adds a haunting layer of shadow and definition. You find hair follicles, surface texture and dark clothing detail to shine through with good definition.

Color Reproduction: Most of the coloring sits on a natural and dingy palette. There are some gowns and fancy rich parties that can deliver some pop with an outfit or two. Reds are probably the strongest color on display.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent throughout the film.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: The Bride has a really nice mono track that really breathes life into this thing. Its very nuanced with good layering and depth to the sound effects. It also has some terrific low frequency sounds that hit pretty deep with a good thud. Turn this one up, it sounds plenty full and lively.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras 

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Franc Roddam

MONSTER: An Interview With Actor Clancy Brown – A fantastic interview with character actor legend Clancy Brown on the film. Intro’d by the director, Brown gives lots of deep thoughts to the film, the cast, the story and overall production. One of my favorite bits is describing Sting as “No ego, just a dude”. Interestingly, he compares this film to Crimson Peak and I was thinking the same thing. This is one of the best interviews with an iconic actor Shout Factory has put to disc.

  • Part One (HD, 22:27) 
  • Part Two (HD, 18:23) 

Interview With Director Franc Roddam (HD, 30:06) – The self proclaimed “method director” discusses in depth the thematic nature of the film along with his casting choices, how he once found it a failure but is now more attuned to it and its legacy.

TV Spot (SD, :31)

Summary 

The Bride is a well done, unique look and extension of the Frankenstein story, both in novel and the films. We finally get a terrific story focusing on The Bride, giving her some more depth and weight. Scream Factory’s Blu-ray has terrific sight and sound and the interviews provided as extras are very rich and lengthy. If you’re a fan of the classic monsters, this film should be an addition to your collection.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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