The first Ed Wood movie to grace American of London! I have to admit, Wood was never a director that grabbed me quite the way that he has others. Sure, I’ve seen all the essentials, but boy, some people are crazy about this man.
On a (very) dark, stormy night, two hunters are caught in a thunderstorm. One of them suggests trying a nearby, supposedly abandoned house for shelter. Though both are slightly hesitant as they’ve hear rumours of monster attacks near the hear.
When the men arrive, they discover that someone is staying in the house. The man (Lugosi) turns the hunters away, but as they leave – they see a giant (Tor Johnson), who they believed to be the rumoured monster, and run away. But the two men don’t get very far when a giant squid is released from its cage. One hunter is attacked by the squid and the other is knocked out by the giant, Lobo.
The hunter awakes and finds himself in a laboratory. He’s strapped to a table and hooked up to a machine. The man who turned the hunters away from the house introduces himself as Dr Eric Vornoff. The doctor explains that the little experiment will either make the hunter incredibly strong (the strength of 20 men) or kill him.
It kills him.
The next day, the police are scrambling after an article is published in the local newspaper about the monster attacks. The journalist is Janet, the fiancee of Lieutenant Dick Craig. The two are terrible for each other, which is strangely endearing.
Janet even threatens to call of the engagement when Dick refuses to give her any police information about 12 men that have disappeared in the last three months. Not getting anything from her boy, she pisses off to do research of her own. She discovers that Willows House, where the disappearances were near, was bought by a doctor. She heads off to the area alone.
Meanwhile, Dick’s boss Tom Robbins allows Dick to investigate the case of the missing men, including the two hunters. A professor, Professor Vladimir Strowski, approaches the police and asks to aid in the investigation. He tells them that he once studied the case of the Loch Ness monster, and saw similarities between what happened to Scotland and the disappearances of the men near Lake Marsh.
Robbins agrees to the professor’s help, and they make plans for Dick to meet the professor the next morning to head to the lake together.
In the night, Janet is driving to Willows House when she crashes her car. When she leaves her car, she begins to panic when she sees a rather large snake. But Lobo the giant sorts that out quickly. Janet passes out at the sight of him, and gets to wake up in Willows House with the doctor. Though he immediately uses hypnotism on her and makes her go back to sleep. I’m assuming it’s because she’s a pretty crap conservationist.
The next day, Dick and his partner are without a professor. The man didn’t show up at the planned meeting time, which only increases the police suspicion that Professor Strowski is a bit shady.
And they were right to suspect him. Professor Strowski managed to get to Willows House all by himself. He sneaks in and finds Dr Vornoff. During their conversation, it’s revealed that they had known each other in their home country. The government of the unnamed country wants the doctor back to continue his atomic experiments.
Only Vornoff isn’t hot on the idea as his country exiled him decades before. In fairness, it is a bit pathetic on the unnamed-country’s behalf. Though also in fairness, Vornoff wanted to use atomic energy to create a race of superhumans. So maybe the exile wasn’t completely uncalled for.
Because of the Professor’s stupid insistence, Vornoff eventually throws him to the giant squid. This frees up more of his time to do things like put Janet back to sleep with his hypnotic hand gestures. Or call her into a room, which he does after he gets her into a wedding dress (handy that he’s got one of those lying around, eh?).
Vornoff orders the giant Lobo to strap Janet to the table and the giant refuses. Thankfully Dicky is there to mess things up. He brandishes his gun around, and is knocked out by Lobo.
Lobo then turns on the doctor. The giant released Janet from the table then ties up the doctor. Then now-awake Dick tries to take on Lobo once Lobo turns on the machine.
And well, Dick is knocked out again. See a theme?
But Vornoff’s experiment finally works – on himself. He tears himself from the table and is able to take on Lobo. But a fire starts in the laboratory, and Vornoff flees taking Janet with him.
The police give chase, firing their guns at the monster/Vornoff once he drops Janet like a sack of potatoes. Eventually, in what is probably the most iconic scene from the film, Vornoff calls into the lake and has to fend off his own giant squid. But it’s mostly Lugosi flailing around with some fake tentacles in a paddling pool.
But it’s okay, because as Robbins says, “He tempered with God’s domain.” So basically – he deserved it.
Bride of the Monster was Lugosi’s final speaking role (though he would appear in later films is silent footage). Like much of his later career, this film is by no means a high moment.
The film gives a chuckle or two mostly due to the bad special effects, but at this point, Ed Wood can no longer hold the crown of worst film-maker ever. He cared way too much about his films for them to truly be terrible. They’re bad, yes, but passion certainly counts for a lot.
Plus it seems to be an on-going competition to make bad movies in this century. At least this is watchable.