Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Bride of the Monster

So, Glen or Glenda made me feel sorry for Ed Wood. At least for the character of Ed Wood in the Tim Burton movie. In that sense, it made me appreciate the movie even more than I already did for its general campiness.

Bride of the Monster, on the other hand, got me curious about something. There's a memorable scene in Ed Wood where Ed's filming Bride of the Monster and is shouting directions at Bela Lugosi through a megaphone. Bela's coming into a hallway from a door on one side and has to exit through a door on the other. Wood's directions are basically something like, "You leave the laboratory. You're sad that the experiment isn't working. No, no. Not that sad. You must get through that door." Then Tor Johnson -- playing a guy named Lobo -- has to do the same thing and Wood repeats the same directions verbatim. Tor bumps into the wall as he goes through the second door and shakes the whole set, but when the cameraman asks if they should reshoot it, Wood replies, "No, it's fine. It's real. You know, in actuality, Lobo would have to struggle with this problem every day."

It's a hilarious scene that really emphasizes what a sloppy director Wood was. The only problem is that the scene they were shooting doesn't appear in Bride of the Monster. Not unless I fell asleep and don't remember, because I kept waiting for it and it never happened.

That got me wondering about other inaccuracies in Ed Wood, so I checked Wikipedia and it turns out there were a bunch. And some a lot more significant than just making up scenes that didn't exist. For example, one of the most touching moments in Ed Wood is when the hospital kicks Lugosi out of rehab for not having any insurance. According to Wikipedia, Lugosi "made a full recovery and newsreel footage exists of him leaving under his own power." Apparently Lugosi's funeral was a lot better attended than Ed Wood depicts it as well. "Lugosi's funeral was well-attended by his family and numerous fellow film stars, including Boris Karloff (whom Lugosi did not actually hate) and Peter Lorre, who said to Vincent Price (also in attendance) as they stood looking at Lugosi's body in his famous Dracula cape, 'Do you think we should drive a stake through his heart just in case?'"

So, digging into Bride of the Monster has made me a little disappointed about being manipulated by Burton's film. I prefer pretending that everything I see in biopics is exactly how it happened in real life.

As far as the quality of Bride of Monster goes: yeah, that octopus was hilariously awful. Whether it was just sitting there, supposedly looking menacing, like the rubber prop that it was, or having its arms manipulated by whatever actor it was supposed to be attacking, it stunk. Other than that though, it wasn't any worse than Lugosi's earlier, non-Wood, low-budget horror films. I'd put it above, say, The Corpse Vanishes. Lugosi is wonderfully campy in it and the rest of the cast do as well as should be expected for actors of their caliber. The lab set is ridiculous with its flatly painted-on stone wall -- and of course, there's that octopus -- but if you have any tolerance at all for cheesy, old horror movies, Bride of the Monster is worth watching for Lugosi alone.

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