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Why Bride Of Frankenstein Needs To Be The Next Universal Monsters Movie

Elsa Lanchester as the Bride of Frankenstein in 1935
(Image credit: (Universal))

After the failed launch of Universal’s Dark Universe with 2017’s The Mummy, the resurrection of the studio’s classic movie monsters sounded unlikely. But Universal has since reexamined its strategy and may have really turned things around. Shortly after Leigh Whannell’s breakout hit Upgrade impressed executives, they turned to the writer/director to reestablish the The Invisible Man property, and in turn it’s quickly become one of 2020’s biggest hits so far. A couple more monster films have quickly been announced since its success, such as Dracula – but Bride of Frankenstein should be the character Universal should really look to next.

A Bride of Frankenstein movie has been in the works for some time at the studio, and it was originally intended to be helmed by Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon, written by Jurassic Park’s David Koepp and star Angelina Jolie. The project also had the big-time producer Amy Pascal backing it, who has famously been behind the recent Sony Spider-Man projects and Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. Following The Mummy’s disappointing domestic earnings of $80.2 million, the movie was pulled from Universal’s 2019 slate. However, a recent report indicates production could in fact be moving forward again, though possibly with new talent involved.

Pulling back from Bill Condon’s Bride of Frankenstein specifically (considering there’s still a lot we don’t know about the project’s development), let’s instead talk through why the female counterpart to Frankenstein could be the perfect next project for Universal since it's looking into monster movies again.

Elsa Lanchester in the Bride of Frankenstein

(Image credit: (Universal))

The Bride Of Frankenstein Has Never Been Given A Proper Spotlight

Unlike many movie monster properties, 1935’s Bride of Frankenstein was not based on a classic novel or story. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein did not have The Creature being given a bride, but he does ask Victor Frankenstein to create a female companion for him. In the book, the mad scientist starts to, but later abandons the project, leaving The Creature lonely. Bride of Frankenstein plays with the 'what if' scenario of if Dr. Frankenstein actually followed through on this. However, in the James Whale movie itself, Elsa Lanchester’s Bride doesn’t appear until the last ten minutes of the movie. She has almost no screen time, and it’s a shame because the concept of her is an especially clever one.

There have been a few other attempts at the idea of Frankenstein’s Bride on the big screen before. 1967’s Frankenstein Created Woman is an interesting idea that has Dr. Frankenstein transferring the soul of an executed man into the body of his lover. Or 1985’s The Bride starring Sting and Jennifer Beals, where the doctor creates “the perfect woman” in Eva in the same fashion as the monster. But it’s the white-highlighted, stuck-up hair of the 1935 version that remains an iconic part of the movie monster library, and her perspective just hasn’t been explored.

Elsa Lancaster and Colin Clive in Bride of Frankenstein

(Image credit: (Universal))

Through A Modern Lens The Bride Of Frankenstein Has A Lot More To Say

The original concept of Bride of Frankenstein from 1935 is about a woman who is literally made at the request of a living monster in order to satisfy his desire for companionship. She’s manipulated by various men. Now that’s a main character who could make for a great subject for modern horror film in today’s day and age! Some of the best modern horror films lean into the current anxieties and fears of the times, and the Bride of Frankenstein is a solid way for quite a few timely topics to be explored. If the movie is seen through the eyes of a woman created at a man’s specific request, it could use some of the themes of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but in a way that freshens up the viewpoint.

What’s great about Bride of Frankenstein is it’s not this forced female version of something. It’s already an established property that exists. But instead of a remake focusing solely on The Creature and Frankenstein, if could be about the horrors of coming into a world where you’re expected to serve this specific expectation or design that’s been intended for you. Following the Bride as she is placed with Frankenstein and then learning that she must break free from him is an interesting approach to the material. It can easily discuss the standards for women in society, codependency or patriarchal control. Under the right vision and execution, it could be the perfect followup to The Invisible Man because that's exactly the way in which it made the classic character interesting again.

Aaron Eckhart in I, Frankenstein

(Image credit: (Universal))

Recent Frankenstein Movies Have Not Worked At All

Many might suggest that Frankenstein needs to be established before his bride does... but not after the other adaptations of the original creature in recent memory. A few years ago, there were a couple new adaptations of Mary Shelley’s novel that were certainly made with the intention to become blockbuster hits or spawn new franchises. 2014’s I, Frankenstein had Aaron Eckhart’s take on the immortal creature caught in a massive war between two clans. Lionsgate attempted to turn the name into some sort of action video game character, but it bombed at the box office with $76 million in global earnings on a budget of $65 million.

One year later, Fox took on the property with Victor Frankenstein, starring James McAvoy as the doctor and Daniel Radcliffe as Igor. It was a more straightforward adaptation to the concept, but it was focused more on Frankenstein and Igor’s friendship. While it wasn’t nearly as bad as I, Frankenstein, its box office earnings were far lower. Victor Frankenstein made only $34 million worldwide. In other words, no one wants another Frankenstein movie. Just skip to his bride! It’s much less tired in Hollywood’s history and a Bride of Frankenstein movie could allow for The Creature from Frankenstein to become a more terrifying villain than he’s been in some time.

There’s a lot going for Bride of Frankenstein. It could be the perfect followup to the success of Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man, which recently crossed $100 million off a small budget of $7 million. The movie could certainly follow the same model of that horror project with a low budget, but it needs the right vision from a filmmaker. Since Bill Condon’s version has been in the works since before The Invisible Man, it may not be taking the necessary influence from its success. The Invisible Man should teach the studio that concept is much more important than scale for the genre and Bride of Frankenstein has the makings of an incredible one.

We here at CinemaBlend will keep you updated on any news concerning a new Bride of Frankenstein movie.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Sarah El-Mahmoud

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.