The Bride Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by Franc Roddam
Written by Lloyd Fonvielle
1985, 118 minutes, Rated PG-13
Blu-ray released on September 25th, 2018
Sting as Frankenstein
Jennifer Beals as Eva
Clancy Brown as Viktor
David Rappaport as Rinaldo
Anthony Higgins as Clerval
Geraldine Page as Mrs. Baunmann
Alexei Sayle as Magar
Phil Daniels as Bela
Cary Elwes as Josef
On a dark and stormy night, Baron Frankenstein is conducting an experiment to bring the dead to life. His goal is to provide a companion for his previous experiment, a disfigured man known only as “the creature.” The experiment is a success, but Frankenstein is enamored by his subject’s beauty and decides to keep her for himself. The creature lashes out and following a fiery accident is left wandering the countryside. The Baron and his new lady also escape the fire unharmed and he begins teaching her the ways of class society. The creature teams up with a dwarf named Rinaldo and the two join a circus where they find success as a team act. Rinaldo names his partner Viktor and their friendship continues to grow. Viktor longs for his bride and is encouraged to follow his heart. Will she rebuff his advances or will Frankenstein prove the main obstacle to happiness?
Jennifer Beals (Vampire’s Kiss) and Sting (Dune) star as Frankenstein and Eva, the titular bride. This is a romantic tale of tolerance, love, beauty and obsession. Their characters are strong-willed and frequently challenge each other, as he is determined to teach her as his equal. As she becomes more prepared for high society, Frankenstein develops a jealous streak that is his own downfall. At the time of production Sting was at the height of his popularity with his band, The Police, and Beals was still riding the successful wave of her breakout performance in Flashdance. Clancy Brown (Highlander) stars as Viktor, the sympathetic creature, and disappears into the role. A cast highlight is the respectable David Rappaport (Time Bandits), who co-stars as Rinaldo. The scenes between Brown and Rappaport are the strongest and most engaging, driving the plot forward as their relationship deepens.
The supporting cast is filled with a lot of familiar faces, including the great Geraldine Page (The Beguiled) as loyal servant Mrs. Baummann, Carey Elwes (The Princess Bride) in an early role as a potential love interest for Eva and the always-welcome Quentin Crisp (Orlando) turns up as a scientist in the film’s opener. British funnyman Alexi Sayle (The Young Ones) plays Magar, the hateful circus manager and the beautiful Veruschka (Blow-Up) appears as the Countess. Phil Daniels (Quadrophenia) is a scene stealer as the evil Bela, the circus performer.
Franc Roddam (Quadrophenia) directs from a script by Lloyd Fonvielle (The Lords of Discipline) and makes the most of his beautiful locations and talented cast. Fonvielle injects a pro-feminist message that elevates the material by making Eva a strong woman willing to stand up to the man who controls her. Frankenstein makes for an interesting foil, as his dominating male ego drives the narrative. His intentions are largely honorable until he is blinded by jealousy and loses any perceived control over Eva once she catches someone else’s eye. Not everything works, as certain aspects of the story are forced, including an underdeveloped telepathic bond between Viktor and Eva. Worse still is the rushed ending that is unsatisfying and feels tacked on.
The Bride is a Gothic romance dressed up as a horror movie. Audiences were not pleased with the bait-and-switch and the film was viewed as a disappointment upon release. Jennifer Beals took a lot of heat from the critics for her performance that was frequently referred to as “wooden” and “aloof”. Time is on her side, as she really is quite good in the role and, with distance from Flashdance, she is allowed to shine on her own. It is a shame the film was marketed as a horror show, a decision that sabotaged its performance both critically and commercially. The picture was beautifully shot by frequent Brian De Palma collaborator cinematographer Stephen H. Burum (Something Wicked This Way Comes). Equally impressive is the lush score by the legendary Maurice Jarre (Lawrence of Arabia). The Bride moves at a deliberate pace (pronounced slow) but remains uneven in the central story. I hated this film as a teen but enjoy it more as an adult. Pay no attention to the poster art or trailer and you may approve this effort, but I recommend renting the title before purchasing.
Video and Audio:
Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio and featuring a spiffy new High-Definition transfer, the picture looks quite lovely. Colors and flesh tones appear natural throughout and black levels are solid.
A DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio track preserves the original stereo recording. This is mostly a dialogue-driven film and levels are always clear and free from distortion. There is some life in the mix during the scenes featuring thunderstorms or the climactic face off in the tower.
Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
Director Franc Roddam revisits the film for an audio commentary that is laid back and informative. There are a few gaps of silence as he watches the film, but he recovers nicely He ultimately has a lot to say and this is a satisfying track overall.
Monster is an all-new interview with actor Clancy Brown. Presented in two parts, there are a great number of topics covered. In Part 1 (22 minutes), he discusses getting the part and working with the make-up as well as the influence Boris Karloff had on his performance. Part 2 (18 minutes) focuses more on the comedic beats within the script and what it was like working with David Rappaport and Jennifer Beals.
Franc Roddam sits down for a 2018 interview simply titled Director (30 minutes). There is an overlap of information here and in the commentary, but it flows naturally. Despite acknowledging the picture as a disappointment, Roddam has fond memories of the production and has nothing but complimentary things to say about his cast and crew. He shares personal stories of working with Rappaport and Beals and discusses working on location and on sets. He also talks about the public’s reaction to the film’s release.
A low-quality TV spot offers a brief look at the marketing for the film.