To a new world of gods and monsters!
Universal considered making a sequel to Frankenstein as early as its 1931 preview screenings, following which the film’s original ending was changed to allow for Henry Frankenstein’s survival. Director James Whale believed the sequel would not top the original, so he decided instead to make it a memorable “hoot”. According to a studio publicist, Whale and Universal’s studio psychiatrist decided “the Monster would have the mental age of a ten-year old boy and the emotional age of a lad of fifteen”.
Screenwriter Robert Florey wrote a treatment entitled The New Adventures of Frankenstein — The Monster Lives!, but it was rejected without comment early in 1932. Universal staff writer Tom Reed wrote a treatment under the title The Return of Frankenstein, a title retained until filming began. Following its acceptance in 1933, Reed wrote a full script that was submitted to the Hays office for review. The script passed its review, but Whale, who by then had been contracted to direct, complained that “it stinks to heaven”. L. G. Blochman and Philip MacDonald were the next writers assigned, but Whale also found their work unsatisfactory. In 1934, Whale set John L. Balderston to work on yet another version, and it was he who returned to an incident from the novel in which the creature demands a mate. In the novel Frankenstein creates a mate, but destroys it without bringing it to life. Balderston also created the Mary Shelley prologue. After several months Whale was still not satisfied with Balderston’s work and handed the project to playwright William J. Hurlbut and Edmund Pearson. The final script, combining elements of a number of these versions, was submitted for Hays office review in November 1934.
It’s a perfect night for mystery and horror. The air itself is filled with monsters.
Sources report that Bela Lugosi and Claude Rains were considered, with varying degrees of seriousness, for the role of Frankenstein’s mentor, Pretorius; others report that the role was created specifically for Ernest Thesiger. Because of Mae Clarke’s ill health, Valerie Hobson replaced her as Henry Frankenstein’s love interest, Elizabeth. Early in production, Whale decided that the same actress cast to play the Bride should also play Mary Shelley in the film’s prologue, to represent how the story — and horror in general — springs from the dark side of the imagination. He considered Brigitte Helm and Phyllis Brooks before deciding on Elsa Lanchester. Lanchester, who had accompanied husband Charles Laughton to Hollywood, had met with only moderate success while Laughton had made a strong impact with several films including The Private Life of Henry VIII (for which he had won an Oscar) and Whale’s own The Old Dark House. Lanchester had returned alone to London when Whale contacted her to offer her the dual role. Lanchester modeled the Bride’s hissing on the hissing of swans. She gave herself a sore throat while filming the hissing sequence, which Whale shot from multiple angles.
We belong dead!
When I was a kid my favorite show was Creature Features. Every Saturday night on channel 5 at 8:30pm I would slip into a world of monsters. When I got a little older and allowed to stay up later, I added Chiller Theater on channel 11 to my list of must shows. Man, I loved the old horror movies! I still have old copies of Famous Monsters magazine locked away. And, I had all the Aurora Monster model kits too. The hunchback kind of sucked because it was kneeling down on a wooden wheel, but the others… AWESOME!
My sketchbooks are filled with cartoons of Frankenstein and different versions of the Wolfman. Unfortunately I only have a few drawings as detailed as the ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ pen and ink that I used for the this ‘LickedinPop Series’ illustration. I do have one though of Karloff’s monster from the original movie which I’m using for my next installment! I hope you like it.
All work in the LickedinPop Series begins as an original pen and Ink illustration. Rich and colorful, it is my homage to the work of Roy Lichtenstein tuned to my favorites in pop culture. Beautiful reproductions of ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ and all my work in the LickedinPop Series are available for sale at my Etsy Store. Please come visit!