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Bride of the Monster

Bride of the Monster (1956) reunites Ed Wood and Bela Lugosi. Also released as Bride of the Atom, this was the film that separated Wood from Dolores Fuller, who was furious that she didnít get the female lead. Lugosi brings his peculiar Eastern European gravitas to the role of a Nazi-like scientist who occupies "the old Willow house" at the edge of a swamp. There he conducts experiments to create a race of "super-beings" who will help him take over the world.

The film is treasured by Wood aficionados for several reasons. One is the monster, a big rubber octopus thatís surely one of cinema historyís most lethargic menaces. It lies limp in a puddle of water outside Lugosiís lab, waiting for victims to jump on it and wrap themselves in its arms, which donít seem to move without some help from said victims. This creature was memorialized in Tim Burtonís Ed Wood, and itís quite endearing to watch the clumsy manipulations required to make it do its evil duty.

The second lure of Bride of the Monster is Lugosi, who's wonderfully affecting in the midst of what looks like a chaotic production. As mad scientist (and crack hypnotist) Dr. Eric Vornoff, he brings an odd, unexpected warmth to some of his scenes - for example, when he's pretending to be solicitous to the woman he's captured. In other scenes, he exudes a sense of tragedy, as in a beautifully dramatic speech that starts "I have no home ... hunted ... despised ... living like an animal ... the jungle is my home!" Bela's authenticity and soulful dramaturgy are always a pleasure to watch.

There's also an amusing "Beauty and the Beast" angle, with Wood staple Tor Johnson as Lobo, a slobbering Igor figure ("a man-beast" per the pressbook) for Vornoff. Poor Lobo is in love with the woman his master has picked to be the "bride of the atom" (whatever that is). Vornoff's plan to create a race of "atomic supermen" seems poorly conceived, to put it kindly; whenever he straps a guy onto his table to be jolted into superman status, the guy dies. Undaunted, Vornoff continues his plan, strapping the "bride" (played by Loretta King) onto his table for electroshock, at which point Lobo rebels and straps Vornoff on the table instead. Curiously, Lobo, though apparently a moron, is able to work the machinery. So much for the Nietzschean ideal. Minor thrills include the always welcome Paul Marco as the doltish cop Kelton, Dolores Fuller in a small role, and a collection of broken-down old radio equipment that doubles for a mad scientist's laboratory.


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Glen or Glenda?
Jail Bait
Bride of the Monster
Plan 9 From Outer Space