Director: Edward D. Wood Jr.
Writers: Edward D. Wood Jr. and Alex Gordon
Cast: Bela Lugosi, Tor Johnson, Tony McCoy, Loretta King, Harvey B. Dunn, George Becwar, Paul Marco, Don Nagel, Bud Osbourne, John Warren, Ann Wilner, Dolores Fuller, William Benedict, and Ben Frommer
Composer: Frank Worth
Release Date: 5/11/1955
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
While investigating the disappearance of twelve victims, newspaper reporter Janet Lawton (Loretta King) is taken to a secret laboratory operated by Dr. Eric Vornoff (Bela Lugosi), who intends to create a race of atomic supermen, and his assistant Lobo (Tor Johnson)—a gentle giant originally from the wilderness of Tibet. With the police hot on his trail, Dr. Vornoff employs a giant, homicidal octopus to defend his mansion—now releasing a tremendous amount of nuclear energy into the atmosphere.
On a technical level, Bride of the Monster earns its reputation as one of the worst movies ever made. This low-budget oddity does, however, benefit from the presence of a nuanced villain and an intelligent Cold War commentary—aspects that will likely captivate enthusiasts of the science fiction genre.
Horror icon Bela Lugosi (known for starring in the original version of Dracula) should be praised for his portrayal of Dr. Vornoff—a conflicted and sympathetic mad scientist who, despite his cruel treatment of Lobo, Janet, and at least a dozen other subjects, makes an appeal to pathos that will surely affect those of a sensitive inclination. Specifically, Vornoff’s “I have no home” speech conveys the broken spirit of a tormented, misunderstood genius whose desire to perfect the human condition—a noble endeavor in theory—has left him shunned by the same society that once revered him for his brilliance.
Bride of the Monster deserves criticism for its uninspired acting (with the exception of Lugosi’s performance), abysmal production values, and occasional narrative incoherence. Especially bizarre is the inclusion of a giant octopus monster, which, due to its lack of movement, required Lugosi’s body double to flail the creature’s tentacles while being “attacked” during the climax of this film—a scene reenacted to hilarious effect in Ed Wood, a 1994 biopic directed by Tim Burton.
A sci-fi/horror film released during the Atomic Age, Bride of the Monster contains a laudable message on the potential dangers—both long-term and immediate—of conducting nuclear experiments with the ultimate goal of conquering or gaining power over others.
Combining horror movie tropes (e.g. thunderstorms, mad scientists, and haunted houses) with a preponderance of random stock footage, Bride of the Monster should be required viewing for B-movie buffs and fans of Lugosi—featured here in his final speaking role. Audiences of a strictly serious or critical mindset, on the other hand, may wish to avoid this effort from director Ed Wood—arguably the strangest and most incompetent filmmaker of all time.
Overall Quality: 5/10
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