Color, 1985, 118 mins. 58 secs.
Directed by Franc Roddam
Starring Sting, Jennifer Beals, Anthony Higgins, Clancy Brown, David Rappaport, Geraldine Page, Alexei Sayle, Phil Daniels, Veruschka, Quentin Crisp, Cary Elwes, Timothy Spall, Guy Rolfe
Scream Factory (Blu-ray) (US RA HD), Sony (DVD) (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)

Audiences The Bridein 1985 were apparently The Bridein no mood for a sweeping, fairy tale-style Gothic feminist fantasy based on Universal horror films. Horror fans in particular were much more interested in films like Fright Night and Re-Animator than The Bride, a very British sort-of remake-meets-sequel to one of Hollywood’s most famous classic horror films, The Bride of Frankenstein. However, the film’s ridiculously impressive cast and lavish production values ended up earning it a cult following thanks to years of cable TV airings, and its reputation has continued to grow decades after it was initially savaged by critics.

On a dark and stormy night (of course), Baron Frankenstein (Sting) is in the midst of the lightning-fueled birth of his latest creation, a female (Beals) crafted from the dead and soon to be named Eva. However, the traumatic birth process goes haywire and soon causes a massive explosion that kills the two lab assistants. Incorrectly believing his male monster (Brown) is dead as well, Frankenstein takes Eva to his home and passes her off to family friend Clerval (Higgins) as a patient suffering from amnesia. Her childlike persona and striking beauty capture the attention of among others enough to start training to make her part of high society, while the creature is given the name Viktor by kindly dwarf Rinaldo (Time Bandits' The BrideRappaport) and becomes part of a traveling circus. Both of Frankenstein’s creations share a telepathic link that grows stronger as Eva begins to assert herself The Brideagainst his increasingly domineering creator.

As mentioned above, both audiences and critics expecting a traditional horror film with monsters fighting off torches and pitchforks were surprised to be confronted by something much stranger. On top of that the parallel storylines are a  peculiar and very ‘80s contrast, with rock icon Sting and recent box office favorite Beals (fresh off of Flashdance) getting chillier and trickier material to play than Brown and Rappaport, whose charming chemistry is main highlight for many. The third feature film by English director (and future MasterChef creator) Franc Roddam, The Bride also found him reuniting with two of his Quadrophenia stars, Sting and Phil Daniels (as well as a brief bit at the beginning for returning Timothy Spall, just before he appeared in Ken Russell's Gothic). Roddam doesn't shy away from the quirky queerness of the original James Whale film either, tipping his hat right away with the casting of legendary gender-bender Quentin Crisp as one of the ill-fated assistants in that thunderous opener. What's undeniable is that the film is one of the most beautifully mounted of its era, complete with painterly cinematography by Stephen Burum (who shot most of Brian De Palma's output from 1984 onward as well as, weirdly enough, 1973's The Bride) and a fan favorite score by the great Maurice Jarre. The film has fared well with time as well, with its occasional missteps (the soppy end credits being the biggest one) seeming far more trivial compared to its strengths. The Bride

The BrideInitially released on DVD in 2011 by Sony after its obligatory run on VHS, The Bride has always fared pretty well on home video thanks to its traditional, centered framing and opulent look. It took a long time for the film to finally hit Blu-ray in 2018 from Scream Factory, years after an HD master made the rounds on the Sony Movie Channel and other outlets. The presentation here is authentic to the source with a moody, dark appearance that tends to burst into vivid splashes of color, though it hasn't undergone a full-scale restoration in the highest Sony tradition with some specks and inconsistent detail in evidence at times. If you're a fan, it's a nice step up from the DVD and a solid way to make the film's acquaintance; the DTS-HD MA English 2.0 track (with optional English SDH subtitles) is also satisfying. Roddam is all over this disc with a new audio commentary and a video interview (30m6s), which don't overlap too much as he covers his intentions to avoid making an overt horror film, the flaws he still sees in the script, the expectations viewers brought to the film upon its release, his daughter's little scene-stealing moment opposite famous model Veruschka, and his affection for the late Rappaport, who took his own life five years later. A new interview with Brown, the two-part "Monster" (22m27s and 18m23s), is excellent as he offers a very thorough and well-spoken account of his memories of the film including his Karloff research, the contrasting reception he got from others depending on the severity of his makeup, his memories of his co-stars, his surprising reaction to watching Young Frankenstein, and plenty more. No theatrical trailer is included (you can find it on Trailer Trauma 3: 80s Horrorthon), but there is one TV spot.

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Reviewed on October 1, 2018.