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Bride of the Monster 1955

From the video case: Legendary horror icon Bela Lugosi stars as Dr. Eric Vornoff, who with Lobo (Tor Johnson), a crazed man-beast servant, is conducting flesh-burning radiation experiments on humans in an attempt to create a legion of atomic super-men.

Mark says: I have to admit a certain fascination with the films of Ed Wood. They’re more than schlocky; they’re windows into the mind of a very unusual writer/director.

Bride of the Monster is not quite as bizarre as Wood’s masterpiece, Plan 9 from Outer Space, but it is still full of strange dialog and peculiar characters. And let’s not forget the ridiculous storyline. Of course, these are the elements that make an Ed Wood film so entertaining.

It’s interesting to watch people when they see an Ed Wood picture for the first time. Initially, they think it’s some sort of spoof. Then, when it dawns on them that the movie wasn’t made for laughs, a look of bewilderment comes to their faces. It’s really a Candid Camera moment.

Bride of the Monster features many beloved Ed Wood regulars. Bela Lugosi (Dracula, The Devil Bat) gives us his last “living performance” as Dr. Vornoff (Mr. Wood would use some Lugosi footage posthumously in Plan 9).

Tor Johnson (The Beast of Yucca Flats, Plan 9 from Outer Space) is the mute beast, Lobo, who spends most of the movie getting whipped or slapped by the sinister doctor.

Dolores Fuller (Glen or Glenda), Ed Wood’s girlfriend at the time, gets a brief but memorable role as Margie the file clerk.

And Paul Marco (Night of the Ghouls) plays goofy Officer Kelton. I think he’s used for comedy relief, but sometimes it’s hard to tell.

The film is littered with other actors of questionable talent: Tony McCoy plays leading man, Lt. Dick Craig, and Loretta King is the headstrong love interest, Janet Lawton.

Harvey B. Dunn, who you may remember as Grandpa Morgan in Teenagers from Outer Space, plays Capt. Tom Robbins. Mr. Dunn, who also made a living as a clown, was allowed to incorporate his trick bird into the act. Nothing is wasted in an Ed Wood movie.

There’s a famous story regarding the prop octopus used in Bride of the Monster. The crew stole the prop from Republic Studios. However, they neglected to steal the motor which enabled the octopus to move its tentacles in a lifelike manner. Instead, the actors had to splash around and pull the rubber tentacles over themselves to give the appearance of a struggle. The results have to be seen to be believed.

You will hear a lot of talk about Ed Wood being the “worst director of all-time.” This may or may not be true, but the man definitely had a passion for his craft. If only his talent matched that passion, imagine the works of genius we could have today.

Regardless of how easy it is to poke fun at Ed Wood and his work, I for one, am glad he came along.

Bride of the Monster isn’t the most sophisticated film of the genre, but I’ve certainly watched movies that are less enjoyable.

Scene to watch for: A drunk gets wise with Officer Kelton and is tossed in the tank for 72 hours.

Line to listen for: “Home? I have no home. Hunted, despised, living like an animal! The jungle is my home. But I will show the world that I can be its master! I will perfect my own race of people. A race of atomic supermen which will conquer the world!”

Supplemental viewing: Though its historical accuracy is sometimes challenged, Tim Burton’s Ed Wood is an entertaining look into the life of this cult movie icon.

Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! ½ out of 5.

IMDB Link

6 Comments

  1. As an Ed Wood fan long before Tim Burton’s film came along, I agree with you about this film and Ed Wood, himself. Good observations!

  2. Thanks, Paul. It’s hard not to enjoy the old Ed Wood films (though they did get almost unwatchable later on; I’m particularly thinking of movies like Orgy of the Dead, etc.) Wouldn’t he be happy to know he is considered such a cult figure today? Plan 9 from Outer Space will probably maintain its appeal long after better made genre films of the same era are long forgotten. A wonderful little irony, that is.

  3. I think that this movie is something apart from Ed’s other films: it has a fairly coherent storyline (if a bit silly, but then it’s a 50’s sci-fi b picture, after all), was small-scale enough not to hyper-extend the budget every two minutes (no need for flying saucers in this one, though that poor octopus!), a fairly competent script and better acting than usual (the “I have no home” soliloquy is actually one of Lugosi’s finest hours!)…of course, all the above is only by comparison with other Ed Wood films! (But what have you got against “Orgy of the Dead?” lol)

    At any rate, given that this one pretty much passes as a legitimate 50’s sci-fi/horro b pic, isn’t rather telling that most of us prefer the eloquent insanity of “Plan 9?”

  4. Jake: I agree on all accounts. There is a sense of legitimacy to this movie as compared to his other films. Plan 9, though, is a crowning glory!

  5. This is the very first monster movie that I can recall ever seeing…how long ago I’d rather not say. As a kid, I thought it was unbelievably exciting. Now? Well, just unbelievable, I guess. TRIVIA QUESTION: In what other film did Tor Johnson play a character named Lobo? ANSWER: “The Unearthly,” just two years later. A much superior film to this one, I might add….

    • I really enjoy The Unearthly! I can’t remember if I’ve reviewed here yet or not. I’ll have to check!


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