Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Bride of the Monster" (1955)

3.7/10 ( 38%- Certified Rotten ( Directed by Edward D. Wood Jr. a.k.a “The Worst Director of All Time)
                Mad Scientist Dr. Eric Vornoff (Bela Lugosi) plots to create an army of atomic supermen to use against those who have wronged him. He is aided in this quest by a mutant octopus (puppet/ stock footage) and a bald Tarzan-wannabe (Tor Johnson). A female reporter (Loretta King) ends up hot on his trail after a series of mysterious murders occur around his sweet swamp-front lair. Interesting bit of backstory: Vornoff made the Loch Ness Monster. Busy dude.
                The first of what will likely be many films directed by Ed Wood to turn up on this list. “Bride of the Monster” may not be as… umm… “celebrated” as some of Wood’s other notorious catastrophes (“Plan 9 From Outer Space” for example), but it still features the same recipe of atrocious acting mixed with cringe-worthy writing and zero production values. 
                Even by 1955 standards the special effects featured in “Bride of the Monster” are horrible. The possibly titular monster, a large and very obvious octopus puppet, sits lifelessly in a medium-sized puddle of water posing as a lake.  Every now and again an actor will hop into the beast’s barely ankle deep home and trash about madly as if they were being killed by it. Ed Wood famously (according to Tim Burton) forgot to acquire a motor for the creature and thus it was up to the actors to make the monster’s tentacles appear to move. Sadly, his actors had enough trouble appearing to be alive and vibrant themselves, so how could they really be expected to imbue these characteristics on a fake cephalopod?
                Bela Lugosi is the best of a bad lot as far as the film’s cast goes. Even poor Bela isn’t up to snuff in this movie, as his real life struggle with drug addiction seemed to be taking a toll. The worst performance in the movie, if I had to pick just one, comes from Tony McCoy as the bumbling Lt. Craig who mysteriously loses his shirt during the film’s climax. He’s stiff, emotionless and also listed as an Associate Producer, which means he must have paid a decent amount to get that leading role.  The dangerous and ugly combination of McCoy’s “acting” and Wood’s “dialogue” comes to a head when at one point McCoy threatens to take his fiancé “over his knee” as punishment for some wrongdoing. There is no way to properly describe the awkwardness of that moment, other than to say that when it occurred, my brain added in its own “losing on ‘The Price is Right’” sound effect.
                All that said, it is really impossible to completely hate an Ed Wood movie. The man’s passion for what he did still oozes through the screen. He clearly loved making movies, even though he clearly had no talent for it whatsoever. I can respect his unrelenting ability to turn a blind eye on the obvious and keep pursuing his dream to become the next Orson Welles.  Wood’s movies may have been the driving force behind the “so bad they’re good” school of thought.
You just try to sit down and watch an Ed Wood movie without having a good time. Sure, it may not be for the reasons that Wood intended, but so what? Fun is fun and “Bride of the Monster” is just that.
:01- “It sure ain’t natural!” I can’t tell if he’s talking about the rain storm or his acting… or the script?
:02- What do newspapers know anyway? They’re all going to be out of business soon. You just go right to the creepy house in the swamp if you want!
:03- How many front doors does this house have?
:04- That is one dead octopus… puppet.
:06- Dear God! That motionless octopus is staring that man to death!
:07- Hold the phone. If the octopus is the monster, does that mean someone is going to marry the octopus? I thought human/puppet marriages were illegal in the 50’s? Not anymore though… yeah! I mean… yeah.
:10- Why are you amazed that the octopus never leaves the lake? He’s an octopus, where’s he going to go, Detroit?
:12- Who you calling “boy” mister? That guy is at least 153 years old. He looks like he’s about to shout: “there’s gold in them thar hills,” kick his heels and tear off towards Calyforney.
:13- @ Ed Wood. Head’s up the camera is still rolling. You may want to throw a cut in here unless this scene of a large man staring at a wall and then helping himself to a glass of water is symbolic for something.     
:17- I guess there weren’t any laws in the 50’s regarding tampering with evidence.
:24- Creepy chauvinism alert!
:26- Sure. If severe shock is doctor speak for being menaced by a large rubber snake, then yes, that is exactly what she’s suffering from.  
:28- Nothing more unnatural then wind and rain. Good call Mr. Wood.
:28- Quick sand would kill you and your whole family if it ever got the chance…
:31- The large bird perched on the police chief’s shoulder takes away from some of the emotional impact of this scene.
:33- The kitchenette really makes the secret laboratory seem so much more homely
:36- Dr. Vornoff went on to invent roofies after his hypnotizing hand was overtaken by a vicious case of arthritis
:37- Both front doors have been breached! I knew you should have installed a third!
:43- The octopus puppet seems totally disinterested in this whole situation. Also, wasn’t that door a window earlier?
:45- I’m taking bets on whether or not the cop’s waist line ends up near his ears by movie’s end. Fred Mertz, eat your heart out!
:47- How many bullets can this guy’s revolver hold and why can’t he seem to hit the world’s fattest, slowest moving alligator?
:48- I guess the bird is back at Headquarters running the show while the Chief is off hitting on this chick
:50- So she’s the one that’s going to marry the octopus?
:51- I think Lugosi is whipping his helper with that rubber snake from earlier
:52- Worst secret passage ever! Why don’t you just put a friggin’ neon sign on it
:54- So no one can hear the 400lbs ex-wrestler sneaking up on them?
:57- Amazing. 5 shots point blank to the face and chest and still not a scratch on him. Tor Johnson must have a hide like a Rhino
:59- Well if the gun didn’t work I’m sure your fist will do the trick
1:03- Careful, Tor Johnson almost knocked the whole set over
1:03-Woah! Gratuitous male nudity alert! How did stud muffin there manage to rip his shirt?
1:04- Can someone tell this guy how shirts work?
1:08- 68 minute runtime. Glad you didn’t overexert yourself there Eddie.

                So there it is, “Bride of the Monster.” Sorry for the delay in getting to your requests. Sadly, none of them are available to stream off of Netflix instantly Watch or to easily steal… er… borrow off various websites. Once I get ahold of the disks though, we’ll motor on through them.
                Bumblebee tuna.

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